Eulogies for Naseeb from his father, his mother and from his close friend Leo. This first section read by his father, Kuljit Singh Chuhan (aka. ‘Kooj’):
Its really nice to see so many people here, who knew the person that Naseeb was and will remain to be in all our hearts. There is still much hope in the world and in each of our lives, we sometimes need to work to make it or to open our eyes so that we can see and reach out for it. For us, the only option after the devastation of losing Naseeb is to somehow find that hope.
From when he was a toddler, Naseeb gained a caring love for animals and wildlife. For holidays we regularly used to camp in a tiny almost self-sufficient organic farm in Wales where he would milk the goats, feed the chickens, canoe around the lake, play with other kids and egg them on as much as he could. He became a member of World Wildlife Fund, watched David Attenborough programmes and for a while refused to eat meat because of inhumane farming methods.
Growing up he was a fiend with making incredible constructions out of LEGO which he creatively improvised. He enjoyed reading books from an early age, by his early teens he would often read a few novels a week. Since nursery age he loved any kinds of games – card games, board games, and eventually challenging multi-level computer games in all their complexity.
Naseeb was really keen on playing squash from junior age through to mid-teens, playing in regional tournaments to a good standard. He also enjoyed tennis, excelled at swing-ball, and got into table-football. He most recently got into cycling, and would proudly ride his fixed-gear bike with no hands on the handlebars. Some months ago he and I rode along the canal to Dunham Massey and back, and we had planned to do some serious touring together this summer.
He maintained a rich interest in history and loved looking at the architecture of buildings whenever we went on travels. He excelled on our trip to Rome last year being a big admirer of Ancient Rome and becoming our highly informed tour guide. Combined with his social and environmental conscience, he then chose to study Human Geography at university.
He had a strong sense of morals, yet in terms of belief systems he was always critical of religion with the exception of Sikhism which he maintained an affinity with. He absolutely adored his grandparents, with whom he always felt relaxed and looked up to the depth of wisdom they gave him over the years.
He learnt guitar for a while, then switched to saxophone and always played with a natural expressive feel. Even though he stopped playing an instrument, music became a big part of his life as he would follow an increasingly wide range of artists. The words in the music also became important to him, he enjoyed lyrics with a conscious edge that were critical of the way society worked and exposed the deep troubles and corruption around us. During his teens, he was a strong critic of the Iraq war, and held on to many concerns about racism and injustice in the world.
Earlier this year he was sometimes ahead of me, telling me about major changes in politics days before they were announced on the news such as the bigger story behind what became labelled the Panama leaks. At the same time he was wary of the political correctness and romantic worthiness among many groups, and steered clear. A fiercely independent thinker, he preferred to hang out with regular but often creative people dealing with the typical issues facing many of us and sharing the cultural flavours he was keen on.
He generated an enormous network of friends most of whom we never actually met, hopefully we’ll meet some today. During his gap year last year, he worked really happily at Z-Arts where he widened his range of friends, gained skills and a network of work mates and generally grew up a great deal. The comments we have had from his friends all show him as having become a happy, lively, caring and thoughtful man, making the shock of his loss even greater.
If he had stayed with us, we imagine him overcoming the difficulties he was facing now and becoming strong and confident again. We are certain he would have put together the many positive qualities and interests he had to create a life for himself that would have been rewarding, enjoyable, and socially positive. We think such a vision for his future had slipped off his radar.
We are truly heartbroken that the child we loved and nurtured, who had such a love for life, somehow lost his spirit and will. This is not the day to go into what brought Naseeb down or how he slipped through our fingers during his last days, but we will be looking at what we can do to change the future for others like Naseeb. If anyone here is interested in where we go with this do please get in touch.
Today is about remembering the many positive things that Naseeb was, that he both got from others and gave to others during his life, and which we all must hold on to in our hearts. We salute Naseeb for remaining the gentle, kind, critical and thoughtful person he was, and we hope wherever he has gone that he will find himself and find warmth, community, peace and support. We love you Naseeb.
Second section read by his mother, Balwant Kaur:
Thank you to everyone for being here with us today. Especially family and friends who have travelled from as far afield as India, Canada, Jamaica and France. People are gathered here from all over this country and city.
Thank you also to our friends who have helped us in so many practical ways, but also more importantly looked after our sanity in the days and weeks after Naseeb died.
We want to express a huge thank you to Naseeb’s close friends Ekundayo and Leo who have been simply amazing with their support and kindness towards us, and their love of Naseeb. They have been involved fully in the planning of Naseeb’s funeral. We could not have done this without you.
It feels wrong to be standing here today. Instead we should be gathered to celebrate Naseeb’s 21st birthday, or perhaps to celebrate his commitment to a long term partner.
But we find ourselves here.
When my mother died over 10 years ago, the poet Su Andi sent me the poem I am about to read. It feels appropriate for today as Naseeb and I shared a love of words, reading and theatre. We also spent many hours, over the too few years of his life, baking, pottering in the garden and chopping wood.
Do Not Weep
Place me in your memory
do not linger on me
wasting days hoping on my return
I will not come here again
Do not silence my name
Speak of me
when friends gather
and family ties times of love
Make me everlasting
In the spirit of your being
For through all the days of living
I lived better with your love
Don’t martyr me
or angel me
of my bad points
don’t be hard on me
But wipe your tears
and weep no more for me
when death is done
my survival is in your memory
Third section from Naseeb’s close friend Leo which includes sentiments from Naseeb’s other close friend Ekun:
My first memories of Naseeb are from when we were in year 7 at Manchester Grammar back when we were both in Mr. Strother’s class. That year Naseeb got his nickname, Chewie through a combination of his surname, Chuhan and through him doing a good impression of Chewbacca from Star Wars. Chewies nickname was for me always an affectionate one and it’s something which stuck with him forever.
I sat with Chewie everyday on the bus to and from school which was something I then took for granted but now I remember it so fondly. It was time we filled sharing our ear phones, helping each other with homework and most of all time spent laughing and joking.
Music was one of Chewie’s biggest passions and we took pride in finding songs that the other hadn’t heard so that together our knowledge doubled. Some of my happiest memories ever are from concerts and music festivals, all of them memories spent with Chewie and they will forever be cherished.
Throughout our time at high school me and Chewie were good friends, but we became even closer when we went to Parrswood college. Again we shared bus journeys and were in a couple of classes together. In fact during these years me and Chewie became inseparable to the point people used to joke about it. Starting sixth form at Parrswood, I only had a few friends but knowing that Chewie had my back, I didn’t feel alone. We were so close that in a group I only had to give Chewie one look and we would start laughing knowing what each other was thinking without needing any words. We went through a lot of things together and being able to share the burden of essays and exams always halved the weight I felt.
Chewie was extremely bright and always did his best to help me in our history and geography lessons together. I even remember a geography field trip where our teacher when asking a question specifically said not Chewie, can anyone else answer, and nobody could. I know Chewie would have said that we smashed it during those college years.
It’s testament to the guy that Chewie was that all the memories I have with him are of happiness, and even when things didn’t go to plan, within a few days we turned it into a funny story. Chewie never did anything to hurt anyone and I can’t recall any arguments. Chewie was a funny guy who made friends easily and never failed to be good company.
My memories of him will forever be of the great times we shared together. We must remember the light which Chewie brought into our lives and hold these memories close forever.
Writing this speech is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and nothing I can say will do justice to the happiness Chewie brought in to all of our lives. It is tragic to know that there are no new memories to look forward to but ultimately during this time of grief we need to hold the years of happy memories close to our heart. I’m sure that I speak for everyone present in saying that we will forever be indebted to Kooj and Balwant for raising Chewie to be the great guy he was.
Chewie you brought a smile to the face of everyone when ever you entered a room….. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss you bro, rest in peace.