Just days before Dhaka’s terror attack, Faraaz Hossain was in Kolkata to do an internship with Pepsico. Little did anyone know that it would be his last visit to the city that has been his favourite since childhood.
On Friday evening, Faraaz, Tarishi Jain and Abinta Kabir had decided to meet a fourth friend at the Holey Artisan restaurant. Their friend, Miraaj al-Haque, who arrived late, couldn’t get in because the terrorists had already taken control inside. Tarishi , Faraaz and Abinta succumbed but Miraaj survived!
Twenty-year-old Faraaz was the youngest son of Muhammad Waquer Bin Hossain and Simeen Hossain, managing director of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Limited, Transcom Consumer Products Limited and Transcom Distribution Limited. He was the grandson of Latifur and Shahnaz Rahman, the chairman of the Transcom Group. Rahman is the owner of media house “Prothom Alo” and “The Daily Star”.
Faraaz, who was called Chotoo at home, was a Fall 2015 graduate of Oxford College of Emory University and a student at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta. On May 18, he came to Dhaka to spend his summer holidays and was scheduled to return to the US in the end of August. His elder brother Zaraif, whom Faraaz used to address as Bhaiyu, describes him as a person who was “extremely sensitive towards others” and always “careful” about how his actions would affect those around him. “He would go the extra mile to ensure that everybody was happy,” Zaraif said from their residence in Dhaka on Sunday.
It was also this sense of ensuring the wellbeing of everyone around that prompted Faraaz not to leave his friends behind at the restaurant even when terrorists had allowed him to leave. “From what I have gathered, my brother was allowed to leave. But he had gone there with his friends and didn’t want to leave them behind. So he had asked ‘what about them?’ When he was told that they couldn’t leave, he decided to stay back. Muslims are not supposed to believe in violence. He was a true Muslim which is why he stayed back and proved to be one,” Zaraif said.
On being asked if he had been able to fathom why the terrorists had agreed to let him go, Zaraif said it could possibly be because he was a Bangladeshi Muslim. “From what I understand, they were asked to recite prayers. For my brother, it wouldn’t have been difficult. While in Dhaka, he was interning at Transcom from where he was having an induction at Pepsico. During a recent trip to the Pepsico headquarters in Gurgaon, he had gone to Nizamuddin,” Zaraif said.
On June 26, Faraaz was in Kolkata. He stayed at the Taj Bengal till June 29. During his last Kolkata trip, Faraaz had visited some mazhars as well. “He had gone to the house of Shashab nana – a very pious man who was close to my grandparents. He went to Shashab nana’s house to pay his respect. On his own volition, he went to two or three mazhars in Kolkata as well. This time, he even told me that he wanted to keep 20 fasts during Ramzan. But he had some gaps in between while in India but wanted to still try and get as close as possible to the 20-fast mark,” he said.
For Faraaz, it wouldn’t have been difficult to say the religious prayers. “But Tarishi wasn’t a Muslim. This just goes on to show that my brother respected all religions. Abinta was a Muslim but she had stated that she was a US citizen. Tarishi, Abinta, Faraaz and Miraaj were extremely close and this would be their night to hang out before they left for Eid holidays. Abinta and Tarishi came back from university in the US to Dhaka for summer break. Miraaj is a rising senior at their high school – the American International School of Dhaka,” he said.
While in college, Faraaz was an extremely meritorious student too. He was part of Phi Eta Sigma – an inter-collegiate freshman honor society. “He retained a GPA above 3.9. He was in the top 10% of his class. My brother had incredible leadership abilities and was the Executive Council High School President as well as Prom King. He was his class president in high school every year except the sophomore year and was a chair which is a leadership position in the Student Activities Committee (SAC) at Emory. He was a part of the handpicked Dean’s freshman council at Emory as well,” Zaraif said, remembering how Faraaz had even planned where his family members would sit during his graduation ceremony two years from now!
Zaraif insists that his little brother was “destined for greatness”. “Manchester United was his life. After he visited, Old Trafford, Manchester United’s home stadium, he was filled with so much emotion because this footall club was so close to his heart. He claims his favourite cities were Dhaka and then Manchester. Dhaka betrayed him,” he said.
An “absolute go-getter”, friends and family remember him as extremely responsible and meticulous. He was up for any challenge. Friday too was a challenge for him when he remained to protect his two friends. “Our mom has raised us to always respect and protect women and he did so till the end,” Zaraif said. As the world salutes this braveheart, Faraaz will remain a hero for posterity