The sister of slain technology entrepreneur Fahim Saleh has recounted her reaction to hearing the horrifying news that her brother had been found dismembered in a New York City apartment.
“I dropped the phone and crawled onto the wooden floor, touching its cold, hard surface with the palms of my hands. I shook my head.’No, no,’ I said, my hair falling over my face,” Ruby Saleh wrote in an emotional post on the blogging platform Medium.
“What are they saying?” I looked up at my husband. He was already crying, as if he had accepted these words about my brother as truth. His crying didn’t make sense to me because this news couldn’t possibly be real,” she writes.
Saleh is eight years older than her brother, who was 33 when he was killed. He was found dead at his New York City apartment in July. His head and limbs had been cut from his body, allegedly by his executive assistant.
“While we were growing up, I felt more like a mother to Fahim than a sister. When he was a toddler too wild to finish a meal, I ran after him with spoonfuls of rice and chicken. I gave him baths, I changed his diapers, and I was petrified the first time I saw his nose bleed.” Saleh writes in her post.
“Thirty years later, I was learning that Fahim’s head and limbs had been discarded in a trash bag.
“Someone had cut my brother’s body into pieces and tossed the pieces into a garbage bag, as if his life, his body, his existence had had no meaning or value.” Saleh adds.
“The man on the line said that due to Covid, I would have to identify my brother’s body via a photo he would send to me. His message popped up within minutes. I immediately felt nauseated. “It’s here,” I said.
“My sister, cousin, and I held hands and said a prayer before opening the attachment. And there it was: a photo of my beautiful brother, lifeless.” Saleh writes.
Entrepreneurial spirit evident early
Saleh writes of how the family found its way to the United States, moving from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia, eventually settling in Louisiana. Her family struggled financially but her brother’s entrepreneurial spirit was on display at an early age, she writes.
“When Fahim was 10, he began buying candy from the local dollar store and selling it at a mark-up to his schoolmates during recess. Once word got out about his venture, the school principal shut it down,” she writes.
Technology soon became Saleh’s passion, he created and monetized his first website when he was 13 years old, shocking the family by receiving a check for ad revenue from Google for $500.
“The site was called Monkeydoo: jokes, pranks, fake poop, fart spray and more for teenagers. Our father worried when the first $500 check arrived in the mail from Google, addressed to Fahim Saleh. How is this boy making $500? That is so much money, he would later tell me he had thought.” Ruby Saleh writes.
Saleh also recalls how her brother sent money monthly to her parents when her father was forced to retire a few years ago — and would always pick up family dinner tabs. “Our father would reminisce during those dinner outings about our struggles in Louisiana, those years when the only restaurant experience we could afford was the $3.99 Saturday Meal deal at Domino’s.”
Coming from so little shaped Saleh as he started Gokada, a motorbike-hailing app he developed in NIgeria. “Having come from so little, Fahim had zero interest in being a rich entrepreneur who only hung out with other rich entrepreneurs. His heart was most open to those in need. “These drivers depend on me,” he would say, according to his sister.
Before her brother’s funeral, Ruby Saleh says she was told his limbs could not be reattached, but she pleaded with funeral director to try.
“Upon receiving that news, I closed my eyes and crossed my arms over my chest like a Pharaoh, squeezing my phone against my body. My hands formed fists that I pushed into my heart with all my strength to contain my pain. Then I pleaded with the man to make sure all of my sweet brother’s body parts were in their proper places in the casket.” Saleh writes.
“The day before the funeral, the man called me again. ‘It wasn’t easy, but we were able to put him back together,’ he said.”
‘Fahim don’t go’
“My family and I looked at our sweet boy’s face in the casket. He seemed to be sleeping peacefully. His body was covered in a white sheet, ice packs placed on his torso, his beautiful eyelashes long and lustrous against his skin. His hair was matted down, not spiked like usual, its blond tips glistening under the hot sun.
“Our father approached the casket and began to speak to Fahim in the affectionate voice with which he often addressed him. ‘Fahim Saleh, didn’t I tell you not to dye your hair? Didn’t I tell you?’ he said before he began to sob.”
Our mother kept repeating, “Ok, you sleep now, baby boy. You get some rest. You sleep now.”
As the cemetery workers lowered my brother’s casket into the ground, my father stood at the head of the grave and shouted, “Fahim, don’t go. Fahim, don’t go. Fahim, Fahim, Fahim, Fahim….”