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OP-ED: A life of passion and purpose

  • Published at 09:10 pm July 21st, 2020
FILE PHOTO: Fahim Saleh, Co-founder/CEO of Gokada explains his company's operation during an interview with Reuters in Lagos, Nigeria May 3, 2019. Picture taken May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja/File Photo
Photo: Reuters

A eulogy for Fahim Saleh

Now I can’t say I am one of Fahim’s closest friends but I can say I am one of his oldest and that I’ve seen him through so many phases of life. 

When he was five-years-old, he lived in the same apartment complex as so many of our Bengali friends. We played video games together. He was two years younger than most of the crew and regularly got the short end of the stick. 

He loved Battle Toads on Super Nintendo and still joked with me about that game as recently as last year. He also joked about how we never let him play. 

When we were in our early 20s, I visited him at his new NYC office where he was building games and I told him I recently moved to Bangladesh to start offshore app development. He asked me a bunch of questions and I knew in hindsight that the main question was should he do it himself too. 

Fahim visited Bangladesh. He already knew a lot of people and made friends with all my friends too. He boldly started HackHouse and then boldly shut it down, with only Pathao and a few other projects remaining. He sent the Pathao founder to me to pitch a bicycle delivery business -- I didn’t believe in it. I didn’t have the vision and the tenacity that Fahim did. 

We hung out all over the world -- London, NYC, New Orleans, and more. Last year before Covid-19, I saw him in Portugal, Singapore, and Dhaka. It only took a few short messages to make international plans with Fahim. You always knew that he’d show up and that when he did he’d be deep into that moment. 

He was intense and that intensity existed in serious times but also in the fun times. He was so much fun to hang with. Those are my best memories with him. He partied with abandon. Laughed without hesitation. Lived a life of passion and purpose. 

Behind all that ambition and extroversion, however, was a person who knew it was always all about love. A few times he confided in me, who he thought that love was and how he thought it would play out. He asked me pointed questions about my troubles with love. That’s when I felt closest to him. 

I loved that I got to travel the world with my childhood friend from my neighbourhood in Louisiana. I loved that he was so successful and was always proud to tell people he was one of my oldest friends. I am devastated to lose him.

I am sad I never realized how uniquely close we were and I am sad I never credited him for being my brother. For telling him that I love and cherish him like few others in my life. I always took for granted that I would just see him soon anywhere in this world. 

I hope I’ll see him in the next world. 

Fahim, I love you, my brother. 

Nash Islam is the Head of Global Strategy, App Ads Monetization at Google. This eulogy was given at Fahim Saleh’s memorial service, and has been reprinted with special permission.

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