Living in Riyadh in the eighties had its challenges. The workplace was fulfilling and challenging; however, there was a void in home entertainment. There was one TV channel in Arabic. This vacuum was filled by enterprising businessmen; Indian movies and Pakistani dramas on VHS tapes appeared for rental. They were surreptitiously distributed from concealed counters, fearing the omnipresent “Mutawas,” the religious police, wielding batons to safeguard public morality. With increasing expatriates, this underground business grew. Risk-takers developed connections within the compounds housing expatriates, which permitted the use of satellite TV. Western programs were videotaped and rented. Those days, the most popular serial was “Dallas”. It was about feuding oil baron families in Texas. Its main character was JR Ewing, patriarch of one of the families. He was cool, tough as nails, and charismatic; characteristics that fitted our friend Javed Randhawa. Thus, we nicknamed him JR, then based in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. My friendship with JR goes back to the early seventies, when we were at Punjab University. I was deeply entrenched in student politics when Randhawa joined, fresh off the boat, from Jauharabad in Khushab District. I completed my Masters in Economics and stayed on to complete my law degree. As the outgoing Union President, we were gearing up to have Javed Hashmi elected as President. The hotbed of student politics was Hostel No 1 during my time. Now its focus has shifted to Hostel No 7. ZA Bhutto was in power and young, and brash Mustafa Khar was the all-powerful governor of Punjab. In the 1970 elections, Bhutto wiped out the opposition in what remained of Pakistan after Bangladesh. Punjab University Students Union was the last remaining bastion of resistance. Heavy-handed Khar was hell-bent on proving to his boss that he could conquer and prevail over these irritants. As Khar’s repressive techniques mounted, it triggered our resolve to resist. It was led by IJT. It was no longer the “Mr Nice Guy” format that prevailed during my term as president. Governor Khar had police and administration under his thumb. He used them to create harassment. Using official financial resources, he cobbled together left-leaning student organizations led by PSF. They had a green signal to use force to subdue the “Jamiatias.” We prepared to face this onslaught by assembling our group of diehards. I had a lot more freedom to manoeuvre in a supporting role. Shahid Iqbal, aka Chacha Shahid, was our group leader due to premature greying of hair. Our core group was Hafeezullah Niazi, Javed Randhawa, Saleem “Jungle” Chaudhry, Farooq Ghazi, Hamayun Mujahid, Kaleem Khurshid, Rashid Masood “sheeda pistool”, Khawaja Falah and many more. Javed Randhawa got close to me for his very endearing traits. The best way to know a person is through facing adversity together. He was fearless in the face of danger; honest, reliable and fiercely loyal and trustworthy. You knew you had your back covered. Deeply anchored and confident, he was not intimidated by authority or power; his responses were measured, strategic, and bold. Physically fit, he kept his jogging routine all his life. These qualities and value systems only grew over time; JR the reliable for me all his life. Despite brutal resistance and humongous challenges, we succeeded in getting Javed Hashmi elected president, standing firm and tall in our beliefs. I will dwell on these experiences in another article. After University everyone went their own way. I re-connected with JR after I moved to Saudi. My friend and confidante for over four decades, Afzal Ghauri and Randhawa were together in Dammam. When Ghauri joined me in the early eighties, we were back in the loop; Randhawa was involved in the travel business. At the end of his Saudi tenure, despite the choice of moving anywhere in the world, he chose Pakistan as a diehard Pakistani. Since then we have been close no matter where we were located physically. We would have “gupshup” at least once a month. My travel to Pakistan was always coordinated with JR. His wide circle of friends would facilitate if I needed any help. In early 2020 Covid was at its peak, JR was dealing with a condition that forbade exposure. He came out of isolation to get me a fantastic deal for flooring in a house I was building. There would be an active debate between JR and Pervez Bhandara as to who would host my first dinner. We spent beautiful times together in the company of friends. His loss will hound me for the rest of my life. My reasons for returning to Lahore continue to dwindle. JR’s loss brought back memories of friends who are no more. My soul mate Rashid Butt who left us so early, my friend and political mentor Iftikhar Feroze, my body armour Maj Rahim Din, my loving parents, and my doting sisters each left a void that I have failed to fill. My anchor in Hong Kong Pervaiz Syed and I regularly chat about the emotional dents we are encountering as our crop of buddies dwindles. I was condolling with Amir Randhawa, JR’s son, using each other’s shoulders to weep. He recounted JR’s advice “you only have three unconditional friendships in life, your parents, your spouse and kids who respect and care for you, and your lifelong enduring friends.” It is the juice of life that I shall convey to my immediate family before I pass on. I regularly pray for those who have moved on and for those around whom I relish sharing my golden years with. The writer is the director of CERF, a non-profit, charitable organisation in Canada.