Areeb was a truly good person with a diverse and very interesting personality with so much to discover. He had a special humor as one could see in his tagline on social media “Coder . Introvert . Gruelingly Boring”. He was not an introvert when he worked on software. He shared his knowledge with the world openly and freely. He wanted to make the world a better place. He helped so many to learn how to use and develop technologies. He was an amazing person, a brilliant developer. I wanted to talk to him many times and ask him to change his tagline. I thought it was just not correct. That is not him. But, I also thought this is his way and idea to show himself. So, I never asked him to change it.
I had the chance to meet him only a few times in person. I always hoped we would have an opportunity to live together in the same city for some time and I can get to know him better. We were building a friendship while we have worked together since 2017. Over the last two years we communicated several times nearly each day. He was working very hard, extremely hard and we both shared a passion for the projects we worked on together. I could send him a message at any time and to my surprise he responded right away even at 2 AM. I asked him to take some time off, but when he traveled somewhere he still responded to questions of other developers from his phone. He was so supportive to everyone.
He was a straightforward person, but respectful of people in his communication. It is sometimes difficult for me to find the right words in discussions with developers from India and all around the world, but with Areeb it was all possible. He could always make things work. Areeb achieved to create an amazingly efficient collaborative environment where developers and community contributors could thrive and we could build something together that was valued by thousands around the world. Some of the most outstanding developers in the world used what Areeb built when they joined our annual event online just a month ago. It was a good feeling.
Areeb was a fighter for free speech, privacy, justice and democracy. He did not do it with big words, sometimes he shared his views online, but mostly he tried to change the world more through his actions and work in the open source and free software community.
The memes and cartoons he shared often had a sarcastic touch and I believe this gave him strength to continue despite a lot of injustices that happened in his home country India and around him. Once he shared a photo of Modi with Shahrukh and Aamir Khan and wrote “Best actor of India with Shahrukh and Aamir Khan” it made me laugh and at the same time the laughter got stuck in my throat when I thought about politics in India. But, this was the humor of Areeb.
He was not as geeky as he might have appeared to some. Only today I saw his post of his computer set up last month with a lot of colorful blinking lights. He liked to learn about the world, watch and read about science, nature and humanity. Besides all the scientific and political literature he also liked a book with a love story – though with a love story with a challenge – and he also liked all the Harry Potter books.
While I never saw any attempt of him dancing I know that he liked Indian music, Bollywood, Elvis Presley and Enrique Iglesias. Our tastes of music were not so different, but we will never have the chance to enjoy them together now.
Traveling was difficult for him as he had to deal with corrupt and bureaucratic administration to even get travel documents. When he was finally getting a passport the pandemic made it impossible for us to meet again in Singapore.
I am grateful that I had the chance to meet Areeb in Hyderabad and Delhi and spent time with him. Last year we organized the OpenTechSummit India as a small event in Delhi and discussed our plans for the future. He was getting on board as a full time developer with FOSSASIA and we discussed our ideas to make projects into their own Open Source companies. Areeb was too young to leave us. For many years we were working with different people and great developers in the community, but to find Areeb with such a strong dedication and understanding of technology and logic – this was a once-in-a-lifetime lucky chance. Areeb wanted to go further and built an example of a technology project and company that is doing good. He wanted to prove that his and our ideas to create a free, respecting and sharing world is possible. Areeb, you are leaving a huge gap. We will miss you forever.