When I had first met Fahim Munaim, my heart had sunk. I was in my late teens, studying at North South University and had managed to get a part-time job, writing for the Culture (now the Arts and Entertainment) section of the Daily Star. Fahim sir, the then Managing Editor, looked stern and a little serious for my liking.
"You are going to have a lot on your plate. Can you manage?" he asked. "You'll have to balance your classes and your daily assignments here. So think about it." "Oh no!" I remember thinking to myself. "Am I going to be stuck with another dad, and that too at work?" I could see my dreams of 'being all grown up and attending office' shattering!
Well, he wasn't my dad for sure, but he was no less than a father, a guardian and a mentor. He was always there for the reporters and the graphics team, with new ideas, solutions and new sets of jokes!
Our weekly meetings would begin with a comic story and an anecdote or two. Of course, each of us would also be grilled for missing out on our deadlines, ending with encouraging words to come up with stories and fun ideas for the paper.
I remember how he loved chocolates! It was my 22nd birthday and I was happily sharing chocolate cakes with everyone on the floor, at the Kawran Bazaar office. I took two big slices of cake for Fahim sir (as he loved chocolate) and took the plate to his room. "Oh no! No cake for me please!" he said. "My wife will kill me if she sees me eating this!" I left the cake on his table, asking him to have as much as he could. After an hour or so, I went back to his office to show him the final edit of the page and much to my surprise; I found the plate (on which the cake previously sat) sparkling clean! "I finished both the slices," said dear old Fahim sir. "Next time, Elita, please don't bring cakes and chocolates for me!"
After I had graduated from NSU, it was Fahim sir who called me to his office and congratulated me. "You are now starting a new chapter," I remember him saying. "You are also doing well with your stories. Don't think that Fahim 'bhai' does not notice! I think you must stick to this profession and develop yourself further. Let me know if I can help."
Even after he had moved on to a private television, we had kept in touch, as had many of his colleagues who loved and respected him. We would discuss music, TV presentations and so much more.
Over the years, Fahim Munaim became a friend from the frightening boss that I had (falsely) thought him to be!
He passed away of cardiac arrest in the early hours of June 1, 2016 in his own home, in Gulshan 2.
"Elita tumi to ekhon star hoye gecho! Amadero mone rekho!" (Elita, don't forget us, now that you have become a star!) - this is what he would say every time we met the last few years.
Fahim sir, stay well wherever you are. May the Almighty give us all the strength to bear with this unbearable pain.