Tagged with " Parents"
Jul 4, 2010 - Uncategorized    39 Comments

Thank you for everything

Last year, my father fell severely ill. 
Abba has had a stroke and was not doing too well; he had lost his gag reflex and could not eat or drink anything. He spoke very few words because even the simple act of speaking was too painful for him. Although one is never mentally ready to lose a parent, I somehow knew my time with him was numbered and I wanted him to know how much he meant to me so I wrote a tribute to my dad on Father’s Day. He was too weak to read and asked me to read it out to him. When I finished reading it, both of us were crying and my father just took my hand in his hands and I knew he appreciated every word. He did not speak much after that and passed away two weeks later. 
It is his first death anniversary today.

Abba has had an eventful life. A few years after Pakistan came into being, he, a mere teenager, decided to move to a new country on his own when he realized that my grandfather would never leave India. He got admission in GC and supported himself by living with a family as a live in tutor and some other odd jobs. His early life taught me the importance of independent thinking and the value of hard work.

Fast forward a few years, Abba was working for State Bank and was posted in Dhaka when Pakistan army surrendered the Eastern half of the country. A day before Dhaka fell; Abba had to go to Rajshahi to attend some business and he left his young wife and little daughters – my mom and older sisters – in Dhaka. Mukti Bahini was on a revenge rampage and was killing any non Bengali person on sight. My dad’s colleague – a Bengali man – hid him in a barn in for a few days to keep him safe. When he came back to Dhaka, he saw his house taken over by a member of mukti bahini and his family was nowhere. He later found out that they were taken to India as prisoners of war. He crossed the border to India on foot, managed his way up to Nepal and was flown to Karachi with assistance from Red Cross. It was after many months that he found out that Ammi & my sisters – along with my maternal uncle and grand parents – were in Meerut as PoWs. My parents were reunited after 22 long months (thanks to Shimla Accord) in 1973.
I was born many years later, but I had always been fascinated with this story and made my parents repeat it again and again with all the details so that I can visualize about times and lives that were so different from my life of typical urban middle class monotony. Although both my parents had lived tough lives, lost everything they owned except for clothes on their backs, lost their way of life and had to move to a city they both never lived in before and spent so much time apart in anguish, not knowing whether the other person is alive or not, but they never said anything bad about Bangladeshis. My dad just remembered that one act of kindness and was forever grateful of his colleague who hid him in his barn and spoke fondly of his time and his neighbors in a place that is now called Bangladesh. Needless to say that it was my parents who taught me the value of optimism. Now that I am older and both of them are gone, I feel so blessed that I had such wonderful parents who always saw the best in everyone, who remained upbeat against all odds and lived a happy fulfilled life.

Generally, my luck is horrid, but I know I won the ultimate lottery in the parent department by having been blessed with Abba and Ammi who were both such good natured, loving, decent people. They taught us the value of human life, importance of patience and tolerance, the ability to laugh at oneself and that respect has to be earned and cherished when it is earned. I never had a chance to tell my mother how grateful I am for everything she had done for me because she passed away when I was just a teenager, but I am glad that I managed to tell Abba what he meant to me while there still was some time. My heart still aches terribly but I am also happy that they have had a good time here and left a legacy for us.

Jul 13, 2009 - Uncategorized    132 Comments

Life, as I have known it, has come to an end…

Life, as I have known it all along, has ended for me last week.

From the day I was born, my very first identity has been that of a daughter. Even before I acquired my name, the baby wrist tag that they put on soon after the birth said that I was my parent’s daughter. I am no longer a daughter. My father passed away last week after succumbing to cardiopulmonary arrest. I have already lost my mother to cancer in my teenage years and now I am all by myself. I missed Ammi desperately every time things got a bit tough, but I got through it because I had Abba. Whenever things overwhelmed me, Abba would calmly tell me to not worry and say, “Beta, this too shall pass, you just need to hang in there,” and I would feel better and would somehow have the courage to take on the world. A couple of weeks before I lost my dad, I was told by my employers that they will not renew my job contract. I was depressed as hell and told my dad that I was about to lose my job. Abba was very ill and had several tubes going in and coming out of his body. He just held my hand and told me not to worry. He said that something better will come along, it always has and no one can keep me down for long. The minute he said it, I felt on top of the world and stopped thinking about the bad job market out there and minimal demand for my particular set of skills.

With Abba gone, I feel this acute loneliness; there is no one who will now call me beta and tell me that things will get better for me because I deserve all the happiness in the world, there is no one who will share my joy, my sorrows, my achievements and my failures with me.

All of a sudden, I have discovered that world indeed is a lonely place. With Abba, whatever part of the world I was in, I knew I had a home; Abba was my home. Whether I was in Tbilisi or Trincomale, I had to call home to let him know that I am still in one piece. Abba’s phone number was my emergency contact number no matter where I was. I traveled across the world and took on unnecessary adventures because at the back of my mind, I knew that there is someone who will take care of me if anything happens and even if I break an arm or two, I would be welcomed when I come home because there is someone who loves me unconditionally – even without the arms. That stability is gone from my life with Abba, there is no one in the world who loves me unconditionally anymore and it is perhaps the scariest, and loneliest feeling in the world. With Abba gone, I feel sapped of all the energy. I am limp and find it difficult to get by. I miss you Abba and I wish you were still here with us. 
Jun 20, 2009 - published work    40 Comments

From Daddy’s girl

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

Apr 10, 2009 - women    45 Comments

Where is the man of the house?


I happen to spend the better part of last week in a hospital. No, I am still alive with all body parts intact but abba (my father) was not doing too well and had to stay in the hospital under the vigilant eyes of the doctors and the nursing staff.

Apart from keeping an eye on my dad and his blood pressure and blood sugar levels, the staff at the hospital showed keen interest in everything I did. For instance, every single nurse on the floor wanted to know what I do and why I do it, why I keep working on my laptop and constantly order people through my cell phone (most of the calls were to the maid at home, I don’t have a lot of people working under me and as a rule, I don’t order people around), whether I am married and why am I not married, if I had any other siblings who can take care of my dad and why in the God’s name I am doing all the running around, why cant men in my family take over and let me be the little woman I should have been in the first place. I was quite surprised by this reaction.

Quite obviously, the man of the house was ill and could not have done all the running around. Secondly, I seriously did not expect it from a bunch of professional women. They all do their jobs diligently and earn their living with extremely difficult and hard work yet they have this idea that a woman is not suppose to be making difficult decisions and should not be running around. What kind of indoctrination these girls must have had that years of schooling (I would rather not use the word education), exposure and financial independence did not do much to bring about a change in the way a woman’s role is perceived?


Apr 14, 2008 - Personal    6 Comments

Thank you mom, for everything

April 13 is my mother’s birthday.
What I am trying to say is had she been alive, it would have been her birthday. I don’t recall wishing her much when she was alive (my only excuse is that I was a self absorbed kid when she passed away), but I never missed her birthdays since she’s been gone; I guess we only realize how important a person is after s/he is gone. I now think about all things I want to say to Ammi but she is no more.
Mothers are precious and most people love their moms a lot, but at times we take their presence, their commitment, their affection and their kindness for granted. Most of the time, we feel that a mother would always stand like pillar of strength no matter what she is up against. We tell them about our problems, frustrations and miseries without thinking – even for a single minute – that they could be facing problems of their own.
It’s been a very long time since my mother passed away, but I still miss her. I miss her when I come home, I miss her when I want to share a gossip and she is not there. I miss her when I make decisions and want a sounding board. I terribly missed her when I wanted to choose a college major and wanted to seek her advice because no one knew me as well as she did. I missed her when I had a fight with one of my teachers and wanted unconditional understanding only a mother is capable of. I missed her the day I graduated and wanted to share the joy with someone who would be just as ecstatic with my achievement as I was. I missed her the day I got my first salary because I know she would have been so so proud of me. I badly wanted to take her out, buy her things and indulge her little wishes but she was not around. I  miss her every time I want to share my joys and frustrations, but she is no more.
I miss her smile, her compassion and her understanding. I am lucky that I had some time with her but I now regret that I had always taken that time with her for granted. I thought Ammi would ALWAYS be around. I regret that I had the opportunity but never really thanked her.
I want to thank my mother for being a great mom, so here it is. Thank you Ammi for your empathy and compassion, for your guidance, for the values that you instilled in me, for your absolute and unreserved love and for being there when I needed you most. Thank you for enriching my life. Thank you mom, for everything.