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Death of a friend and colleague

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Hamid Ismailov Hamid Ismailov | 14:38 UK time, Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I should have written this entry under the title 'Faces of Bush House'. It's long overdue.

But I'm late.

My friend and my colleague Ravil Bukharaev died of heart attack at the age of 60.

I have known Ravil for the last 30-odd years. I knew him from our youth when we were both young, hungry and ambitious non-Russian poets aspiring to conquer the endless territory of Soviet literature from Moscow.

He became a part of my life, much like furniture one has at home.

You rarely think what do you do to your furniture, right? You can step onto a chair, you can kick a table's leg when you're angry, you can take a tissue and tenderly wipe away dust from your cupboard - it's yours.

It was the same with him.

It's as if nothing stands out about the association, until you lose and understand that a part of your life is irreplaceably gone.

But he was a special - more than that - outstanding, rare man.

I was recently rearranging my home library and with some spiritual amazement and physical annoyance I rediscovered how many books he had written and had given to me.

I wanted to tell him off, jokingly, that he made me work hard that day, but alas...

The books he had written and given me were in Russian, in Tatar, in English, in Hungarian.

Not translated into those languages by others, but written by Ravil himself in the original.

And the range of writing he attained was wide: from the finest poetry to topical politology, from profound philosophy to brilliant prose.

He translated the best of Tatar classic poetry into English, he published a two-volume book 'Islam in Russia', he composed a crown of sonnets in four languages, he brought to London the first ever Tatar theatre, which performed a fantastic fairy-tale of his.

We worked for over 15 years in the same building, in Bush House, the headquarters of BBC World Service.

He used to work in the Russian Service producing and presenting the best of their output, such as the discussion programme 'Radius'.

He was one of the anchors of the service famous for many writers and poets who worked there. He was around whenever he was needed.

When a friend dies
a part of you dies
your sweet or bitter memories,
your common past,
conversations about books which you are writing, going to write, discussions with open ends, which never end, petty complaints, winging, laughing together, just drinking tea, exchanging views on anything insignificant, telephone calls out of blue, when you want share something and promises, plans, plans, plans...
all of that die...
When your friend dies
you die...

Our mutual friends -Alyona from Kazan, Ak from Stockholm, Rollan from Almaty, Rustem from Kiev, Jean-Pierre from Paris - all are devastated by this sad news, he has left such a big hole in this world.

He wrote a poem 'Bee', which was about him, a man who was so generous in giving himself to this world, to people, to his wife Lyda, to his family...

And without Ravil a sweetening taste of honey will be missed in our lives...


I am sitting here and writing with a ball-pen;
To the window-pane above I turn my eyes.
In the porch outside a hazel-tree is blooming.
Like a little yellow cloud upon the skies.

The pollen hangs so heavy on the branches,
A brook runs bubbling through the deep ravine;
A bee crawls over my blue sheet of paper,
A wild striped bee that haunts the forest green.

Outside the bee has gone from flower to flower;
I carefully examine it and see
How it has stained its wings and its proboscis
With pollen from the flowers on the tree.

Indeed it has been working very wisely,
Collecting every drop of nectar there.
I must return to my blue sheet of paper,
So I release the bee into the air.

Working in a lonely house takes patience;
How long we need to wait to have our wish
For lines of verse like clear, transparent honey
To shine and sparkle on an empty dish!

Our hearts go to Ravil's wife Lydya and his family.


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