Father’s day may be a creation of Hallmark cards to sell their merchandise in times of lull, but it is a beautiful reminder that we need to appreciate our fathers and tell them that we love them, something we often tend to forget. For a country that celebrates births, weddings and birthdays, we do not celebrate relations and our loved ones as much as we should.
When we do acknowledge the people in our lives, we tend to celebrate some relations more than others. Heaven lies at the feet of mothers, but fathers, who usually bankroll our lives and provide immense support throughout, are left out when we express love, gratitude and appreciation. This father’s day, I wanted to take time out to acknowledge fathers and tell them how wonderful they have been through the years. This is something all fathers would love to hear from their children, no matter what their age or relationship might be.
My relationship with my father has been like any other child’s. It started off with me adoring everything he did to indifference to rebellion without cause in my teenage years. Later, I developed the calm appreciation for my father that many people get as their parents get older. Abba, on the other hand, has always loved me, warts and all, and took pride in every little thing I did.
I look a lot like my father, at least that’s what I have been told by friends, family and perfect strangers. I now smile and accept it, but as a little girl I would sulk to no end whenever I was told that I resemble my dad. My argument was simple: I am a girl who braids her hair, my dad is a man with a receding hairline. We cannot possibly look alike. Instead of being hurt, my father was proud of the fact that his daughter could argue so well.
As a little girl, I had a huge, wall-sized map of the world in my room and my dad and I would spend hours in front of that map discussing countries, food, geography and wars. One thing we always discussed while standing in front of that map was traveling. We planned a million and one trips for later and my top three destinations of choice were the coffee plantations of Colombia, Cairo and Venice. Those trips together never materialised because his health deteriorated after my mother’s sudden and untimely demise. But he took great joy when I traveled to these places (I am yet to discover Colombian coffee plantations) and made memories for both of us.
Before I discovered the Internet, my father was my Google, encyclopedia and Wikipedia – all rolled into one. Whether I would want to know about the Stockholm syndrome, the Crimean wars or Issac Newton, my father was my go-to person and he never disappointed. Abba introduced me to Mumtaz Mufti, Ghalib, Jospeh Conrad and Anton Chekov and inculcated the love for the written word in me. I may have inherited more than just facial features from my dad because my wanderlust, my love for books, my pragmatism and my never-say-die attitude all come from him.
Although Abba has never been very demonstrative about love and affection, and I always thought that he cared about his children in a very casual manner, I know now that we have always been the centre of his life. I only realized how much he loved me when I left to go to college abroad. He never once told me how much he would miss me, but cried for hours after I left and even developed an eye infection as a result. When I got to know about it, I called Abba and said that I would come back if he wanted me to. He told me to stay put and finish my degree and joked that while Prophet Yaqoob lost his eyesight while crying for his lost son Yousuf, he only had conjunctivitis.
It was only after this I remembered all those incidents of quiet fatherly pride he took in everything I did, whether it was my high school results, my sports achievements or my work. I do remember him beaming with pleasure when I first got published. He called everyone when I was not around to make sure that the world knew about the accomplishments of his daughter.
I lost my mother when I was a teenager and never really had a chance to tell her how much I loved her and what she meant to me. My father is not well these days. He is hospitalised and fighting ill health and weakness. This father’s day, I want him to know that he is much loved and appreciated. Whatever I am today is because of my dad, because of his affection, compassion and guidance. He always encouraged me in whatever course of action I took, and never stopped me from doing anything because I am a girl. Perhaps his greatest gift is that he never placed barriers to my flight of imagination. I love you Abba, and I want to thank you for enriching my life and being such a wonderful father.
Originally published in Dawn