I would like to acknowledge my debt to an extraordinary man, Dr Mohamed Shahabuddeen, former Attorney General and World Court Judge. Uncle Shahab was par excellence. He was the spark of my intellect, the fire of my soul. He humbled me with his intelligence and his passion for knowledge and growth, and he made all us Essequibians proud.
His passing brought us sadness and irrevocable memories. Uncle Shahab and his two brothers Moeen and Zahir frequented us at a little Mosque at Johanna Cecilia, Essequibo Coast. A humble man he would pray with us on that hard floor covered by a discoloured carpet. He would exchange pleasantries with the old folks and encourage us, the young ones, to work hard at school. I can never forget his and his brother’s generosity. We ate from their hands during the rough days of poverty. My mom looked forward to their charity and Zakat, and Uncle Shahab never failed us and for that I am eternally grateful.
Recently, my daughter and her new family paid us a visit. I took them to the Essequibo coast so that they could connect with the place of my birth. I stopped at a small house at Adventure, and when I told her one of the world’s most brilliant legal minds was associated with it, she was shocked, perplexed and puzzled. She put her hand on her mouth and said “you are lying”.
Uncle Shahab has impacted my life tremendously; he was full of grace. Grace is the life of talent. Grace is the breath of speech. Grace is the soul of action, and grace is the ornament of ornaments. Without grace, beauty is lifeless. It surpasses valour, discretion, prudence and even majesty itself.
That was Dr Mohamed Shahabuddeen – pure and amazing grace. It’s a pity that a fantastic, astonishing man like him is only born once in a generation. He consumed my entire being through his extraordinary brilliance. His stunning words were the most dazzling pearl necklace around the neck of humanity. When our contemporary historians write the annals of our history, Dr Mohammed Shahabuddeen will be at the top of the list of the most influential men of our times. He stood tall like a palm tree and was never swayed by the wind.
The joy of having known him trumps all the other temporary pleasures I ever had. I cannot bear the thought that if I were to subtract him out of my history, what my life would have been like. Throughout our sojourn on earth one person can touch our lives and we become better, much better.
Peace to the greatest jurist of the 21st century, as he has returned to the divine author, peace to a stern advisor, peace to a generous giver and peace to a friend.