Each year that comes and goes brings with it a mix of good and bad moments. 2012 was no different in this regard, giving the world its fair share of reasons to celebrate and balancing them out with the loss of some great people who inspired the world with their talents and achievements.
Here is a list of some such inspirational people whom we lost in the year 2012:
Arfa Kareem Randhawa
In 2004, 9-year old Arfa held the distinction of being the youngest person to become a Microsoft Certified Professional. Following her achievement, Bill Gates invited her at the Microsoft Headquarters in USA, which was a moment of pride for every Pakistani. In recognition of this amazing feat, the Government of Pakistan bestowed her with many accolades, including the prestigious President’s Pride of Performance award.
Unfortunately, Arfa’s success story was cut short at the young age of 16 when an epileptic seizure caused her significant brain damage and resulted in her death on January 14, 2012. A few days before she left this world, the Microsoft chairperson personally called Arfa’s parents, offering to bear all her treatment expenses and putting together a team of American medical consultants to work in collaboration with the local doctors.
In her memory, the Governor of Punjab changed the name of Lahore Technology Park to Arfa Software Technology Park.
An icon, a diva and a world-renowned celebrity, American singer Whitney Houston was another person who left for her eternal abode in the yesteryear. A powerhouse performer with a mesmerizing voice, Whitney rose to fame in the mid-eighties after the release of her first album that left audiences across the world enthralled with her immense talent. In later years, Whitney also ventured into acting with her role in the movie ‘The Bodyguard’, alongside Kevin Costner, being the most memorable to date.
Her marital issues with ex-husband Bobby Brown and struggles with drug abuse led Whitney’s life into a downturn. She was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room on February 11, 2012, with the toxicology report suggesting she had accidentally drowned due to excessive cocaine consumption and consequent heart failure.
Popularly referred to as the King of Ghazal, Mehdi Hassan Khan’s prowess with ghazal singing remains second to none. Spanning over 4 decades, his singing career started with Radio Pakistan as a thumri singer. From there onward, the musical maestro enthralled the admirers of ghazal and classical singing worldwide, producing evergreen gems like ‘Ranjish Hi Sahi’, ‘Rafta Rafta Woh Meri’, ‘Gulon Main Rung Bharay’ and ‘Baat Karni Mujhe Mushkil’. He also lent his voice to some of the most popular film songs, such as ‘Yeh Kaghazi Phool Jaise Chehray’ (Devar Bhabhi), ‘Tum Meray Ho’ (Amber) and ’Kabhi Main Sochta Hoon’ (Aaina).
With such a glorious career to boast about, it is no wonder that the government recognized his contributions in the field of music by bestowing him with the highest civilian awards, including Hilal-e-Imtiaz and President’s Pride of Performance. As his health deteriorated, Khan Sahib distanced himself from music and was mostly bedridden. His last song ‘Tera Milna’, a collaboration with Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar, was released in 2010. He left his admirers mourning on June 2012 after a prolonged battle with disorders affecting his lungs, chest and urinary tract.
Neil Armstrong’s name is synonymous with the epic landmark mankind achieved in the year 1969 – landing on the moon. The first man to walk on the moon, the American astronaut started his career with the US Navy, serving in Korean War, and later made his way into NASA.
After his retirement from the space station, he went into teaching, worked as an accident investigator at NASA and even ventured into business. He breathed his last on August 25, 2012 at the age of 82 after complications arose during his coronary bypass surgery.
Correctly regarded as a Bollywood legend, Yash Chopra dominated the Indian cinema with his unmatched skills behind the camera as a scriptwriter, director and producer. In 1973, Chopra established his own production company called Yash Raj, which continues to be among the leading film banners of India today. He is accredited with presenting Bollywood with some of the biggest hits of all times, such as Deewar, Kabhie Kabhie, Trishul, Darr and Dil To Pagal Hai.
With a successful career span of more than 50 years and countless awards to his name, 80-year old Chopra announced his retirement from film direction after the release of then-under production Shahrukh Khan starrer ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’. He, however, could not live to see the movie’s release and died on October 21, 2012 after being diagnosed with Dengue fever.