A letter from a son to his father.
[A writing inspired by Leena Hashir…]
Dear Abboo Jan…
I fell in love with you only after you had gone…
When it comes to their kids, most father are inexpressive. Yes, I feel it today. Baqoul Baano Aapa, “Bachchay kay muaamlay mein mard ummooman bad-naseeb hua karta hai. Wo kisi bachchay ka maalik nahin ban sakta. Iska kafeel ban sakta hai, laikin darwaazay par kharra sirf andar aanay ki ijaazat maangta rehta hai. Ijaazat kabhi nahin miltee…” [Haasil Ghaatt]
You were so unkind to yourself, that you sent me far away at such a tender age, to make myself a good future and education……and missed me like hell, and never told me that; until I had to grow up to be a father to feel, know and understand it.
You never let me knew what you would like the best as a gift, which perfume, which brand of suit and shoes, since you never had made such choices….. You were always happy and content with whatever came across… Every time I asked you, what gift should I bring preferably……..you always did that taal matol, “phir le lein gey”…. I now know why… (Aslam Koulsry had said, “shehr mein aa karr parrhnay waalay bhool gaye… kis ki maan ne kitna zewar becha thaa…”)… You never shared with me what it was like, to raise kids, and manage their training and well-being and education and grooming and nourishment – all at once…….until I had to grow up to be a father to feel, know and understand it.
You were the simplest soul I saw in my life. Your world was not big. You focused on work and family. But after you had gone, so many people came looking for you, whom you took care of. I at times think I never knew you at all. Those people had stories, narratives and at least one of them was who accepted Islam on your hand. Hundreds of them came back to life because of you, in one way or the other. Well, you always told me to focus on my things first, my studies, my duties as a citizen and as a family member. I remember you never consciously told me the tricks of the trade (like Khaala Billi doesn’t teach the Nephew Lion to climb a tree), until I had to grow up to be a father to feel, know and understand it.
Like the saying goes, the time you realize your father was right, you have a son who thinks you are wrong. In this age of technology and generation gap, this thing has become a reality. It was never there with you, though there were times when I did not understand your viewpoint on any count of my (il-)logic or (non-)sense, and even disagreed (Alhamdolillah, never disobeyed), until I had to grow up to be a father to feel, know and understand it.
I must say I did not make an excellent sonny. May be I was satisfactory, or even good, but your standards were too good. I say it on the basis of my performance. Or may it is natural that we do not find ourselves come-up to what our mentors expect of us, due to certain insecurities / lack of self-trust. Or may be you raised the bar everytime….. 🙂 …… Either way, I feel I should have been better, and I must have strived for it. But one thing is clear. You always believed in me, even when I failed and I was down and the whole world was opposite to my direction. In my most blue days and nights, you instilled confidence in me and your gentle words elevated my spirits. At that time, I used to think why did you pat instead of scoulding me, until I had to grow up to be a father to feel, know and understand it.
Like most fathers, you never told us in words how much you loved us. I understand now, that we at times never used to see you for days. You would set-off for work before we woke up, and would be back after we had slept at night. I used to ask Ammi about it, and she would narrate a story and then another, until I had to grow up to be a father to feel, know and understand it.
Whenever I see your picture, I feel so adored and happy that my eyes become wet, my lips become dry, my tongue feels saltish and I cut myself from everything. Strangely though, my wife tells me its not happiness, its sadness coupled with reverence. And I tell her she doesn’t understand….
I do not share your memories with Ammi….. Because, whenever we visit your resting place, she breaks down in my arms and cries like hell. I keep myself composed. I don’t know why. I think I learnt it from you… But when no one is around, I cry to myself… You know me, I am trained to be strong on nerves and emotions. My work demands so. But when it comes to you, I feel feeble to control myself.
I rarely talk to siblings about you. Either of us changes the topic, lest there will be no more talk…..only watery eyes. They are smart enough to understand that I want them to tell me stories about you, for I missed you most part as I was out of home for long – something they will always be one-up on me.
You taught me the basic things in life.
You taught me to walk, to talk……to walk my talk.
You were with me when for the first time in my life, I crossed the road……when I walked for the first time……when I wrote my first letter……when I drove the motor-bike for the first time……when I performed by first sajdah in Masjid……when I drove my first car……when I graduated……when I landed in my dream job……when I did my final semester project…… You were with me in all my aweful days too……when I got a term-relegation……when I crashed into another car……when I received multiple shocks from friends-who-were-not……
My each memory of life has one thing in common: You.
You were with me in all the days of my life.
I was not.
I could not come back frequently. I could not call / text / write to you every day. I could not make it on every weekend. I could not very efficiently manage and juggle at once, so many balls of family, work, relations, friends, pursuits, etc. Most sadly, I could not tell you how much you meant to me, and how much I cared for you. I never had an idea that time does not stay, nor does it come back, so better to convey the feelings and express the love ‘here’ and ‘now’ – on as-is-where-is basis.
In spite of my distant job and my casual attitude, Allah helped me to be with you in your last days. Your last 96 hours with me, was an honour for me. I cannot thank Allah enough for blessing me with the toufeeq and capacity to serve you in your last moments. I cannot thank Allah enough for letting me take care of you, like you did when I was small. May be not like that… With my trembling hands, I gave you ghusl, shroud and prepared you for your heavenly abode (I remember when you used to help me prepare for school). Your face was were so content, as always. You appeared asleep like you used to. Composed and cool, as you were. I recited each and every prayer that you had taught me. I tried to keep myself calm, for I had no shoulder to cry on. After everyone left the graveyard, I sat there besides your place, and cried loud to myself and to my God. I know you always forbade to do it, but I couldn’t stop myself.
You taught me that there is only one God…..and that there is only one Islam… You used to pray in different Masjids, irrespective of sect / maslak…. I tried that too, but was not as lucky as you were… 🙂
You taught me that the best and noblest are those who are best in conduct. You actually taught me this through your own example. I later referred to that in Al Quran (Al Hujraat – 13)
You taught me that I need to go through, understand, and act upon, the translation of the Holy Book, and Sunnat e Nabwi (PBUH). I tried to do that, and am still trying. I hope and pray that I may become even a minor fraction of you wanted me to be. I wish and pray that up there, you will be proud inshaAllah. That you will be standing in front of your God, with acts worth gold and silver. Yes, you were worth gold and silver…….well much above that. You were a true Muslim, an excellent human being, a great father to us, an exemplary husband to Ammi, a loving soul to every relation and friend, and a devout, committed Allah ka Banda.
You taught me to respect elders, for their prayers and wishes are our taqdeer. You taught me that naseeb (fate) is related to ‘adab’.
You taught me to take care of the younger and under-command, for Prophet (PBUH)’s last instructions clearly mentioned it.
You taught me that inspite of rough days, there is always something which I can smile and laugh upon.
You created such a beautiful environ at home. I remember Ammi taught me 6 kalmas, and I remember them by-heart till-date. Well, it was you and your friends, who I used to recite these Kalmas to, because all of you would love to listen to me (see, I was just four years young!), and I would get toffees from you after that… 🙂
You taught me to respect, honour and adore ladies in every relationship…….for they are like crystals and diamonds, and most valuable to us in our homes and schools and everywhere……for they groom and shape us, the society, the community and the nation….. You taught me the meaning of the words “valuable” and “values”: things which are of value (it’s just that those are priceless), and which are to be kept in care, and protected, and defended…..
You taught me to treat everyone with dignity…… Especially elders, since they had a right to it, and more especially youngers, since they deserved it. You demonstrated good ethics to me, and the best practices, and the care of colleagues at work-place. You taught me that professionalism is not about job or output or maximization, its about people and responsibility and optimization.
You taught me to love the kids especially……to nurture them with good example, and to take care of their health. You especially liked healthy kids, who were carefree and less in “nakhraa”, especially towards meals. Your grand-children are just like that (with two ‘Pisces’ exceptions 🙂 ). They are healthy and hearty. You’d love to see them as they are growing up fast into ‘bhaalooz’ and ‘chipmunks’ (some of their nicks)…
You taught me that I could join any profession, for my rizq was ordained; but to serve in the line of duty, for my sacred motherland, and in the supreme way of God was the best profession. Win-Win.
You taught me to read through the texts, books and newspapers. You taught me, that each word of knowledge, wisdom and hikmat is a very small fraction of Allah’s Grace and Qudrat, and His Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s rehmat. You taught me to co-relate (acts of) people and events in time and space, to read into the news, to analyze and authenticate words, and to prioritize acts over words. You taught me in real terms, that “Solomon made a book of a thousand quotations, but a thousand books of quotations could not make one Solomon”.
You taught me that respect comes first……even before relations, love, attachment and every good thing that I had heard of. You taught me that ‘adab’ is the first step to learn, love and live. You taught me that there may a thousand codes of conduct, yet they all stem from the same universal line of action that Allah sent us in the form of Prophets’ examples. You demonstrated to me that even in the moments of debate and disagreement as well as in the moments of humour and laughter, respect and dignity of people and their view-points / beliefs must be upheld.
“Men are what their mothers make them”.… Whenever I read this sentence, I remember my Grand-mother… She was indeed among the best of mothers. You not only received your poise from her, but your decision-power, maturity, glitter and smile too… 🙂
You are in my thoughts and prayers…..
You know, when I show the night’s sky to your grand-sons, I tell them, your Daada Jan was not a far flung star….. He was a moon…..a moon which never sets….
A Hadees e Rasool (PBUH) says: “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah; knowledge which is beneficial; or a virtuous descendant who prays for him.” [Sahih Muslim]
I wish and pray that I may become a son, whom you can be proud of…..
By virtue of my job and stature, I am supposed to be a man of strength. Therefore, I do not show my eyes to anyone, nor do I talk to anyone on phone after I see your picture……for they will think there’s something wrong. And I won’t be able to tell them, that there is nothing wrong… Its just a love-struck son whose world changed at 4 am on 27 October 2012.
“Rabb-ir Hum huma kamaa Rabb-ayaani sagheera”
May Allah bless you with best of His blessings, and may he make us Sadqah e Jaariah for you…