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Tribute to my father



For a man who abhorred sentimentality he knew quite a few verses of Ghalib, and recited them often to make a point. There is no prescribed way to mourn a man whose responsible for your being in this world, you have known him all your life and then one fine day he is no longer with you. What are you supposed to do? What do you think? How do you find meaning in the fact that no matter where you turn he is not to be found? I, for one, am still struggling.

Poetry, Art, Literature, History – he understood the significance of the vital things in life. To people who knew him partially this assertion may reek of a daughter’s love and her insistence on seeing facets that never a part of the real man. But it is not so, he belonged to that lost generation of Aligarh college students who aspired liberal ideas, he was a man who valued his past but was ready to embrace the future. He educated his children well and wanted to see them embody liberal values but with a serious respect for culture and religion. What he couldn’t do he wanted his children to do, and that is to me an ultimate gift a parent can bestow.

An angry man- he certainly was, angry at all the injustices in the society that we are angry at. The subjugation of women, abject poverty, lack of opportunity, parochialism, sophistry, superstition, racism all bothered him to a great extent and he acted against them at every given chance.

He was lonely for the most part of his life, taking care of children, raising them on his own. He never put his own needs before ours, he could have remarried after our mother died but never did. How many young men would have the guts to face life alone knowing very well that eventually he’d still be alone.

I admired him for his tenacity and his resolve. I respected him for working very hard all his life and am deeply proud of his integrity. How could one man live so fully? He enjoyed his own life, he lived for and doted on his children, he was always there in deed for his extended family and all this was done while keeping up the name of his fore-fathers alive. He bought back ancestral lands and made alive the memory and respect of his father, he helped the destitute. The socially approved charities and charitable acts he always mocked at, his were acts of silence.

He could give the best advise on any problem because he was logical and thought rationally, without emotions. He was wise as he had perspective. A candid ability to see beyond here and now. Where do i go now when I am in need of sound advise, when life is handing out lemons by the dozen? 

We all love our parents and we all find qualities in them that are unique. Our parents are the primary hero figures in our life, they represent all that is right in this world and we want to be like them. As we mature our visions are cleared of the childish partisanship and to our horror we start to find out, albeit slowly, that our parents are not perfect, they are not immortal heroes of myths and fables, they are very much of this world and have gross faults and weaknesses as the rest of us. This is a turning point in our life. We begin to see things as they are and not as we want them to be. Inevitably, it happened to me also, I am very aware of my father’s short-comings or rather traits that seemed faults to me, and have had a hard time understanding them and accepting them.

Abba was human and his own person, he never pretended to be other than who he was and you had to take him at that. To me that is courage, he knew when he acted wrongly and many a times accepted it, and on more than one occasion refused to accept it. He was stubborn, yet he would eventually yield if he thought you made sense. He was hard in his views but never rigid. You could talk to him, well, sometimes you just couldn’t, because he didn’t want to be wrong. 

Abba was all in all a Pakistani man. He had double standards and knew it. He was impressed with success and let it show. He wanted allegiance from his family and rightly demanded that. He put himself above others at times and thought it fair.

My hero is my abba. He is a real life hero, a man who had his weaknesses and in spite of them was a man who loved you, made you feel wanted, respected you and all your dreams. He made me believe in all that is good in this world. He made you feel as though you were so important that each and every wish of yours was a matter of great significance. He made me feel that no matter how wrong things went he could and would put them right. I believed he’d fix everything for me all I needed to do was not to worry. 

How do replace a father like that? Where do you go now?

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