After a fight with his best friend, an embittered Asif Raza decided to get even by creating a Facebook post denouncing their friendship.
With some rudimentary photo editing, the resident of Pakistani city Gujranwala created the iconic image that redefined break-ups, public disputes, diplomatic ties and political power shifts. Six years on, the “Friendship Ended with Mudasir” meme is a pop-cultural artefact revered by meme connoisseurs and young social media users around the world.
Now, hot off the trails of World Friendship Day, the meme was auctioned off as one of Pakistan’s first meme NFT (non-fungible token) for $51,530 or 20 ethereum. London- and Lahore-based startup Alter conducted the sale on the digital art marketplace Foundation.
Discussing his meme-acquired fame, Raza told VICE World News. “I only posted it so Mudasir would see it and get upset.”
“I would never have known that [the post] would go so viral and that it would spread all over the world. So many news agencies interviewed us. We’ve even had a cartoon made about us,” said Raza. “The people of Poland love it so much. I received Polish visa offers from two or three people. They even wrote my name on the walls there.”
In his original post, Raza angrily announced, “I declare that I left my past best friend Mudasir Ismail.” Raza claimed that Ismail had become “proudy” and “selfish.” It goes on to say that “now Salman Ahmad Naqash is my best friend.”
The accompanying image depicts Raza and Naqash holding hands with bold colorful text that says, “Friendship ended with Mudasir. Now Salman is my best friend.” At the bottom of the picture, two photos of Ismail have been crossed out.
“I can’t even remember what we fought about. At that time we were so focused on each other. If either of us met other friends we would get hurt. We used to share all of our deepest secrets with each other,” said Ismail.
The auction has been widely appreciated by NFT collectors and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. According to Alter’s co-founder, Zain Naqvi, some digital creators in Pakistan find it difficult to jump onto the NFT bandwagon due to shifting cryptocurrency policies and limited opportunities.
“A lot of Pakistani creators are making NFTs. However, people like Raza and his friends who despite being super famous, have not been able to capitalise on that,” said Naqvi.
After the platform fees, the major chunk of the auction earnings are going to the creators – Raza and his friends – with a minor split going to Alter. Raza has plans to create similar memes to put up for auction in the near future.
Since the meme went viral, Raza and Ismail reconciled and embraced Naqash as their third best friend. The trio refers to themselves as “the lads of Gujranwala” and are thriving in their personal lives. Naqash is currently working as a model while Raza and Ismail have newfound happiness with their wives.
“I got married first. When I had my wedding, Raza would say, ’You don’t spend time with me anymore.’ I would tell him I’m married and that I don’t have much time to give,” said Ismail. “When he got married he would then say to me, ‘You were right, you really don’t get any free time after marriage,” said Ismail.
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