In the middle of the night on 26 October 2002, I received a phone call, which has altered my life and created a pocket of vacuum, ever since. That phone call from Paramjit, Ramid’s wife, not only woke me up from my sleep, but shook me down to my bones. Her voice and message still rings in my ear. Paramjit informed me, to my utter horror, shock and disbelief that Ramid had passed away. Ramid passed away at 35. A massive heart attack, the cause.
After the news had sunk in, I went over to Akbar’s house in Bangsar. Ramid, Akbar and I had read law together. Funeral arrangements had to be made. I knew nothing about a Muslim burial and had to get hold of someone who knew how to attend to it. I broke the sad news to Akbar and Vazeer. Together we set about to make the final arrangements. The great number of kith and kin who subsequently gathered for the funeral was a reflection of Ramid’s standing among friends and relatives. Ramid had the natural gift of touching the hearts and minds of everyone whom he came into contact with.
I first met Ramid one cold winter’s morning in Aberystwyth, Wales. We had just enrolled at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, to read law. The warmth he exuded was a refreshing cheer to the drab Welsh weather. Immediately, Ramid struck me as a very intelligent young man. He was full of energy and enthusiasm. Rightly so for a young man who had taken his first step towards fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming an accomplished lawyer. Ramid’s intelligence was evident from a very young age. He obtained double promotion in his primary school days and completed his primary education in five years. Those days they used to call it the “Express Class”. Express he may have been academically, but he took life in his stride. He went on to finish his law degree with Second Class Upper Honours. Ramid worked hard; he partied hard as well. Ramid loved live and lived it to its fullest, always making friends in the process.
In recognition of his academic excellence, the British Council awarded him the British High Commissioner’s Award which enabled him to complete his Masters of Laws Degree at Kings College, University of London. I ended up being Ramid’s housemate in London, where I was doing my Bar Finals. We had a great time. Ramid’s affinity to attract friends was amazing. Nine out of ten times when there was a knock on the door, you can be rest assured that it was Ramid’s friends calling on him. Some of Ramid’s friends became my friends and my pool of friends increased, thanks to Ramid. Some of them are still my closest friends.
Ramid got through his Masters with flying colours. I had come to expect it, in spite of his partying.
Upon our return to Malaysia, thanks to Ramid, we ended up sharing a house again. We ended up in some dubious quarters of Jalan Alor/Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur. Ramid probably didn’t know his geography of Kuala Lumpur well. We became the butt of many a joke. Nevertheless, the location did not damper the spirit. Friends still came by in throngs to call on Ramid. Sometime later, we moved to a more acceptable residence on the fringes of Bangsar and shared an apartment with Stanley and Sri. Vazeer called it the stud farm. We ate together, partied together, holidayed together and slept together. The last of it, in separate rooms. We were the proverbial fraternity boys.
It was here that I first met Ramid’s family. Ramid is the product of cross culture, and I must add, two great living cultures. His late father, En. Rahman Khan, a Pakistani gentleman, was a wonderful person. He used to come and stay with us in our Bangsar flat and easily blended in to become one of the boys. Ramid was a chip of the old block. His mother, a very gentle and warm Chinese lady, who was and still is Aunty to all of us, was always pampering Ramid. They were both very proud of their son. Ramid was a wonderful brother to his sister, Sarina. He was a source of joy not only to them but to everyone who was around him.
Ramid married his childhood sweetheart, Paramjit who is also a member of the Bar, in a quiet ceremony in Alor Setar, Kedah. They were a perfect match. A match made in heaven. After, the marriage, Ramid became a changed man. He became a very responsible family man. Ramid and Paramjit did not spare any time to usher in parenthood. They have been blessed with three wonderful children. Javed Amir Khan, Sophiya Dhillon Khan and Leia Dhillon Khan will always be a part of my family. They also have lots of uncles and aunties to be always around them. These are Ramid’s true friends.
In his career, Ramid was extremely hardworking. In his early days as a lawyer, he took on part-time teaching positions. He was and still is regarded as a fine teacher of law by his students and staff members. Ramid read in the Chambers of Cik Faizah Noor in the firm of Zain & Co. As fate would have it, I had also chambered in the same firm. Upon being called to the Bar, Ramid worked successively in the firms of AI Nathan & Co., Harcharan Peters and Zainur Zakaria & Co, as a Legal Assistant and moved to Tay & Partners, as a Partner. Ramid was never one to seek publicity or prominence. As a core member of the Anwar Ibrahim defence team, he worked tirelessly behind the scenes. Never to allow an injustice to go unnoticed, Ramid organised the protest march by lawyers following the arrest of Zainur Zakaria for contempt. Ramid was also a part of the defence team in Zainur’s contempt proceedings. In the midst of all this, Ramid selflessly found the time to actively participate in Legal Aid work in general and in particular, Ramid was the co-ordinator of the Legal Aid defence team for the Reformasi trial of the 173 accused.
Ramid had always immersed himself in work and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ramid was a formidable opponent in Court. He always prepared his case well and presented it forcefully, yet courteously. He commanded high respect from the members of the Bar as well as the Bench. Ramid was on the threshold of a brilliant career as a lawyer. Success was beckoning. I have no doubt that if God had given Ramid a little more time, he would have etched his name in our country’s legal history.
All his hard work was finally paying off. He talked of buying a bigger house for the growing family. He started planning for Paramjit’s and the children’s future. This was another remarkable trait of Ramid. He was able to change his focus and identify his priorities in accordance with his station of life and prevailing circumstances.
Ramid was also a very good sportsman. Hockey was his passion. He played hockey for his school and university. As a member of the Bar, he was a regular on the Bar’s hockey team. He also took interest in a variety of sports and excelled in them. After games, we often gathered to down a few drinks, to chat and unwind. This became a regular Friday evening gathering. Friends still gather on Friday evenings, but it is never the same without his laughter, his unique language and his friendship. Ramid’s empty seat forever saddens us. We miss him.
Ramid’s passing is a great loss to the profession. I am sure that friends and family members will whole-heartedly agree that we have the passing of a great man. His greatness was in his ordinariness. His greatness was in his excellence. His greatness was in his kindness. His greatness was in the manner he touched people’s hearts. His greatness was in the man he was.
Ramid has certainly left a legacy that deserves to be celebrated and preserved forever.