This isn’t about the great martyrs of Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria or Yemen, because a deep aching wrecks my heart when I contemplate over them, at least for the time being. I’m translating a purely lifeless piece of work about bidding and procurement of goods; clearly nothing inspiring about that I’m sure. But it fascinated me at how through every page, and almost every term I came across I saw the face of one special person ; my former boss may Allah bless his soul, Mahmoud Elhaj.
I met Mr. Mahmoud in late 1999 as I had just graduated and walked into his office to apply for a job. My first impression of him was his serious demeanor. As I got to know him better, I realized how enriched I became with the knowledge and skills he helped me to acquire from my job there as an administrative assistant. From the way he ran the information technology directorate , I could easily sense that he passionately valued the responsibility he shouldered. In that job, I was surrounded by engineers and computer programmers whom I had nothing in common with, but it was there that I acquired the language of computer tenders, procurement and much terminology in that field which I find most helpful this very moment. Mr. Elhaj was more than a nice boss to me, he was more like a caring father who just by looking into my face could tell I was having a hard day and would readily order me to go home and get some rest.
To him, work and helping others was his life, yet he was unaware like any person treading this earth, what the days ahead held for him. Unexpectedly he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and his remaining days were short. The last time I heard his voice was when he was on a hospital bed somewhere in Occupied Palestine checking on me. On a hot and humid July of 2005, I received an sms from Lubna telling me that Abu Jihad had passed away. It is always when special or loved ones pass away that we realize we still have so many untold stories to tell them. If I could have a last chance to say one word to you Mr. Mahmoud, it would be: I’ll always be indebted to you for all the wonderful things you helped me to learn. I proudly talk to my friends about how you would assign me to do all sorts of tasks and even how you advised me one day to keep smiling as I greeted others. May your soul rest in a peaceful place till we meet in Heaven inshallah.