Arfa Karim Randhawa passed away at the tender age of just 16. Inna Lillah Wa Inna Elaih Rajeon!
Born in 1995, she achieved celebrity status after becoming the world's youngest computer expert at the age of 9, passing a tough series of Microsoft tests designed for software professionals. Her success brought her an invitation to Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, where she met its chairman, Bill Gates, and discussed her idea for a self-navigating car in 2005.
She spent the last month of her short life in a Lahore hospital after reportedly suffering an epileptic seizure and cardiac arrest. Two weeks ago her prognosis appeared to improve. In recent weeks, Microsoft stepped in to help provide expert medical care.
Todd Bishop, a Seattle-based newspaper reporter covering her Redmond visit, wrote about her as follows: "She made an impression through a combination of charm, flattery and boldness uncommon for someone her age. For example, during Arfa’s meeting with Gates, she presented him with a poem she wrote that celebrated his life story. But she also questioned him about what she perceived to be the relatively small proportion of women on the campus."
When a younger 9-year-old Indian girl M. Lavinashree broke her record a few years ago by becoming the youngest Microsoft Software professional, Bishop told Arfa about it and got the following response from her:
“This is the first time I’ve seen this story. But I must say that I’m really happy to have read it. This is exactly what I had been wishing for ever since I got to bring laurels for my country. I am very glad to see that people are following what I did and have succeeded in beating me. I don’t know whether you’ve heard or not but a boy, named Bilal, from Gujranwala in Pakistan also became a Microsoft Certified Professional at the age of nine. I would say that the other youngsters should follow suit, thereby convincing the people to take us kids seriously. Our generation is very talented and so should be promoted.”
Arfa's untimely death at such a young age is a tragic loss for her family and for Pakistan. Her legacy, however, will live on. I hope and expect that many more Lavinashrees and Bilals will be inspired by her memory to accomplish whatever they set their mind to, including but not limited to achieving celebrity as Microsoft professionals.
Here's a video clip of Arfa Karim's Interview: