If you are hoping to read a nuanced, well structured, and objective piece, then I would suggest that you do not continue reading what I have to say. Because I have decided to throw objectivity and creativity out of the window. If, however, you want to read a raw and maybe honest account of what an impact, my brief and virtual introduction to Muhammad Ali of Sadpara, created - I would like that very much.
Also, this long rant that consists of a eulogy cum apology does not make any clear point but only a repetition of my alleged guilt, so, please do not expect one.
I do not know much about mountaineering, or porters, or mountaineers. I am ashamed to admit that I did not even know who Ali was until after he went missing during his winter ascent to K-2. I remember reading randomly about his expedition on the bird app and just telling Amma to pray for him. It was not until that we lost that gem of a person that I actually decided to read about him.
But this write-up is not about what a wonderful, courageous, and absolutely dignified man Ali was. There are people out there who knew him, supported him through life and all the difficulties it bestowed on him. And these are the people best suited to narrate to us the stories of his bravery and bravado. This is a sob story of my ignorant self that I am writing to relieve myself of guilt and to offer a shi**y apology while I listen to Ali dancing and singing on 'Tum Chalay Aao Paharun ki Qasam' in the background.
In the past few days that I have known your story, I hoped for your safe return. I hoped against hope and rationality. I prayed for a miracle. But rationality won. Hope vanished. And we lost you to the mountains that you so loved. (Maybe I should not use collective nouns since we, as a nation, hate introspection). Therefore, I will rephrase...And I lost you to the mountains that you so loved.
I keep thinking about your life, your achievements, your successes, and the difficulties you faced and then I think about how these difficulties could have been reduced had some of us paid attention. I keep thinking about what an absolutely courageous and dignified man you were, and how undignified, as a nation, we were/are.
Ali, I am sorry. I am sorry that you did not receive the attention, wages, sponsorship, and scholarship that you deserved. I am sorry that I am only apologizing when it is already too late. But I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me/us. And I promise in return to make sure to raise my voice - whenever and wherever I can - for the porter, climber, and mountaineering community in Pakistan.
Ali, I hope in heavens there are mountains higher than Everest and more beautiful than the K-2 for you to conquer and leave your mark on. I hope you get to meet your colleagues and community that were lost to the mountains because of our collective neglect and I hope you get to dance, sing, and laugh with them.
I am sorry we failed to acknowledge you while you were still amongst us. And I hope we never make the same blunder ever again.
Ali, look kindly on us. Rest In Peace.
Note: Muhammad Ali Sadpara went missing on February 5 along with Iceland's John Snorri Sigurjónsson, and Chile's Juan Pablo Mohr Prieto while attempting a winter ascent of K-2. The three mountaineers were declared dead on February 18 after rescue missions failed to locate them.
Muhammad Ali of Sadpara had two dreams: "For his wife, he wanted a sewing machine. For himself, a winter ascent of K2."