It's the first day of Chinese New Year today. I usually celebrate it with family as I'm half Chinese but it's a little different this year. The Lam's are having mini reunions of their own. That's how modern times are, as sad as it is.
But I'm not going to write something about CNY. It's about how my day started with devastating news. A friend phoned me and broke news that my newly found business partner from Singapore who was in Gunung Tahan for a hike on Saturday, had passed away in a freak accident. We didn't have the details but news has it that he drowned while trying to cross a river.
He was with a group of 25 hikers. He was a little nervous about this trip as it has been raining and Gunung Tahan is not an easy feat to climb.
I met Nawaz in December last year after "grilling" him over Skype after our mutual friend introduced us over WhatsApp. He had some training programmes he wanted to market to Malaysia. Being in events for so long has gotten me a little jaded about training as I feel that we have a saturated market.
So our Skype chat lasted an hour and he disappeared for about three weeks before following up and asking if I was interested to market his programmes. A week later he texted to say that he would be in Malaysia and would like to meet up in two days.
I said "Sure!". Despite me being a little jaded I always try to hear people out because you never know what you're going to learn. We agreed to meet for a super early breakfast as we had a full day ahead. He turned up at a "mamak" stall 20 mins late (as his friend accidentally took his pants and he had none to wear and had to get his worn pair from the laundry) but was all smiles (a great distraction, I must say). We met for three days straight after that first meeting.
We spoke for about an hour and really hit it off. We met the next few days to see how my events and his training programmes could jive. After some thought, I decided I would like to help him set up a Malaysian office and see how things go from there.
We continued our discussions online when he returned to Singapore and everything seemed to go as planned. He came back last week as he was due for his Gunung Tahan hike on 5 February and was scheduled to be back in Kuala Lumpur on 11 February 2016. Last Tuesday, we went for a company pitch (which didn't do so well) but we took it in our stride and learned how to make things better over a Japanese lunch (one of his favourite cuisines).
We spent the next few days brainstorming (he's a stickler for details down to the font green in the website we both built) and getting to know each other on a personal level. He spoke so proudly of his boys, and showed me photos of them taken during a trip to Perth last year. His son had recently scored some goals in a school football competition and called to tell him all about it and Nawaz beamed with pride while relating this to me. He spoke about his volunteer work in Cambodia and how he likes to help whenever he could. He always spoke about getting out of his comfort zone hence the Gunung Tahan hike.
Bahasa Malaysia isn't a language he used much and he was picking up a few local slangs/words like "kot" which was funny as he didn't really know how to use it. I told him "he'll learn how soon enough". But sadly, it was not soon enough.
He also spoke about "rempeyek" and how he just only found out that this snack is called "rempeyek" instead of another crude word he had been using all his life. I shall not mention it here!
In the short time we knew each other, we shared our business dreams and our plans for the future. He wanted to retire in 5 years (what? so early?) so he could spend more time with his three young boys in Singapore. We wanted to build an incubator to mentor business owners, organize a World Music concert among other things and of course, build our training company to reach global markets.
Nawaz had a great sense of humour and was very quick thinking. He was a good family man and had many friends due to his good nature. He was also sneaky and cheeky. I'm glad our paths crossed and I hope that I can continue building our business dreams together.
Nawaz, you have touched a lot of hearts and you will be dearly missed. Knowing you, you're most probably in Heaven smoking with the Intellectuals and snickering at us below.
Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free.
I'm following the path God has laid, you see.
I took His hand when I heard His call.
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I found the peace at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joys.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow.
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts, and peace to thee.
God wanted me now,
He set me free.