KARACHI: I still have work to do.
These were the last words Muhammad Javaid said to his colleagues from The Express Tribune when they went to visit him on his deathbed.
He was just 53 when he died in Rawalpindi on Thursday. He had spent the last few years fighting cancer while still doing his best to give the paper his ‘thousand words’ as often as possible.
The veteran photographer joined the newspaper ahead of its launch in 2010 after having worked around Pakistan and in the Middle East. His experience was an asset to the paper and to fresh-faced colleagues whom he would guide when they were on assignment together. But his discipline meant that he never became confrontational when told to file a specific kind of photo by a reporter or editor.
He could be yin or yang.
Dressed in camouflage pants with a military-style jacket on his back and a keffiyeh around his neck, the tall, bearded man would look imposing at first glance, but his actions and words negated the wardrobe.
Soft-spoken and caring, he was supportive of colleagues through tough times, and helpful whenever asked upon. He was also fearless, as seen by many of his colleagues during the 2014 PTI-PAT dharnas, when he wrapped the keffiyeh, now doused in vinegar, around his mouth and nose so he could move forward through the tear gas and get better pictures of the chaos.
But he also knew how to keep himself safe and work within the lines. After covering an active terrorism situation, he shared his disappointment with how some members of the media had been breaching the ‘operational zone’ andthemselves and law enforcement at risk.
He also did his best to explain these things to the two junior photographers that came and went during Javaid’s time with the paper.
When his health started fading, he made every effort to keep it from them, until it became obvious. Even then, he worked as hard as he could to do his part and provide the paper with some wonderful pictures. Over the last few months, despite being largely immobilised, Javaid would still try to show us the world around us, just from places closer to his home.
That was just the kind of person he was.
His love for his work was only eclipsed by his love for his wife and two children.
The doting father often brought his young son around to the office while dropping him off for swimming, and spoke often of how he wanted his daughter, now in high school, to reach her full potential. We hope that they will do their mother both parents proud.
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