Sunday, October 12, 2008


By Nasir.

This evening I had a chance visitor. After we had exchanged greetings and taken our respective seat, he blurted out: “Rafi Sahaab was indeed a saint.” He repeated: “Yes, he was a saint despite the fact that he made a living in the Bollywood film industry.”

I was caught unawares and also pleasantly surprised. This was not because of his statement, but because I hardly know any one who talks about Rafi Sahaab, and such conversation was not expected in the least. I asked him, “Why do you say that?” It was then he narrated to me what he had heard from his friend who was a poor guy from the Bandra vicinity – Behrampada (in Mumbai City) to name it precisely. Here is what he told me about an incident that pertained to the early Sixties:

This man from Behrampada had four daughters. One of them had reached the age of marriage. He was much worried. He had no money or means to get his daughter married. He had heard from his neighbours about Mohammed Rafi Sahaab and that he was a good man. They told him to approach Rafi Sahaab for help. He had his own doubts initially because he himself was a nobody whereas Rafi Sahaab’s was a great name. Will he help him – a total stranger that he was to Rafi Sahaab?

Gathering Rafi Sahaab’s address, he finally came to his Bungalow. The security guard told him that Rafi Sahaab was not present. Not losing hope, he visited it again the next day and then the next day only to be told the same thing. He finally requested the security guard to inform Rafi Sahaab about his visit. The security guard accordingly did so. So on his next visit, the security guard let him inside the gate, when he was astounded to see Rafi Sahaab beckoning him.

Now when our man entered the living room, Rafi Sahaab politely told him to sit down. Snacks and tea were offered to him. After he had had his fill, Rafi Sahaab asked him the purpose of his visit. That man explained his plight and misery and informed Rafi Sahaab that he had a daughter of a marriageable age but could not get her married since he had no money. Rafi Sahaab asked him how much money he needed. He quoted an X amount. Hearing this, Rafi Sahaab requested him to come back the next day without fail.

So the next day, this man went to see Rafi Sahaab at his bungalow again. Rafi Sahaab was waiting for him. He offered him snacks and tea again. After he had finished with his victuals, Rafi Sahaab handed over the required X amount that the man needed for his daughter’s marriage. Morever, he also gave him the same X amount three times over, saying that these were for his remaining three daughters’ marriage too. He was very happy. Too happy in fact. He had got more than he had asked for. But there was one condition attached: Rafi Sahaab asked him not to divulge this incident to anyone; nor to say anything about the money he had got from him. This much he promised. He got all his daughters married decently and was relieved of his duties thanks to the generosity and altruism of Rafi Sahaab.

It was only after Rafi Sahaab passed away that he felt he could now tell the world how Rafi Sahaab had helped him.

When I heard the above story from my friend, naturally I choked with emotions. Then I recollected all those stories that I had sometimes read in the magazines how Rafi Sahaab time and again rescued even Bollywood industry people, including music directors, from financial straits.

Yes, not only was Rafi Sahaab a man with a Golden Voice, but he was also a man with Golden Heart.

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  1. Thanks for the article.
    I, however, feel that mentioning the goodness of Rafi Sahaab will decrease his heavenly reward. Yani unka sawaab kahin kamm na ho jaaye.

  2. hi nasir. i enjoyed reading this very much. i was once sitting next to a man on the bus who i started conversing with because i could hear him singing old songs under his breath. he then started to talk about some of the greats from yesteryear and he also told an incident regarding rafi sahaab's big heart and great generosity. rafi sahaab was a unique human being on so many levels.

  3. Thank you Arsh for your comments. I don't think mentioning the goodness of a human being decreases the virtues. Yes, we must restrain from mentioning bad things about a person after he or she has passed away.

  4. Thanks for your comments Eva.
    There are so many incidents of the altruism of Rafi Sahaab which we don't even know, though some of them have come down to us in print. How I wished that we had people coming forward with those incidents. Yes, Eva, Rafi Sahaab indeed "was a unique human being on so many levels."