Thinking of you, dad

Eleven years ago, in the summer of ’98, you left a gaping hole in our lives, a vacuum that has only expanded over the years. Today, on Father’s Day, my eyes moisten as I think of you, deeply, lovingly, reverentially.
You were a fountain of love, wisdom, compassion, generosity and magnanimity. A doctor, an academician, an activist, a poet and a social worker, you were many men. But you were, above all, a humanist to the core and an incorrigible optimist and idealist.
Today, as I think of you, all I have is a haze of remembrances and recollections — the shards of memory are broken, blurred.
You were the only one of your kind: I’ve never come across anyone like you. Because of your rock-solid virtue of faith, even your detractors swore by your simplicity, honesty, truthfulness and integrity. You would do favours to people without expecting anything in return. You were kind and generous even to those who stabbed you in the back.
You were a messiah of the poor, an angel for the suffering. Many would lie at your feet, addressing you as “god”. I remember how, in the middle of the night, your patients would come knocking at your door; your doors were open round the clock for anyone who needed your help. Those were emergency cases and you had got to see your patients even at unearthly hours. I would look at you, sleep still swaddling my eyes, as you would hastily assemble your bag and step into the night. Sometimes, you had to spend the entire night awake, tending to your patients.
You were known for your vision on education. It was the only way, you held, change could happen fast. You started a school and exhorted the poor and the dispossessed to enroll their children for free. You didn’t live to see the change that your initiative engendered, but your vision lives.
Your love for literature was immense. You were well-versed in many languages and taught me Urdu, Persian and English. I would gape at you with awe and admiration when you would teach me Allama Iqbal, Josh, Faiz, Momin, Ghalib, Rumi, Khayyam, Shakespeare and Shaw in the same breath.
Their words still surround my world. But you are not around to explain when I am stuck with Gulistan and Bustan of Saadi Shirazi or when I am clueless about the backdrop of Iqbal’s poetry.
For much that I couldn’t make any sense of, I turned to you. But for the last ten years, I have been groping in the dark. For me, you were the symbol of enlightenment. And after you, it has left me forever.
Life has not been the same since you left. And never will be. But I continue to scrape through the tests of time. Today, I want to tell you that in your death eleven years ago, in the summer of ’98, it was I who died. And you, even after your death more than a decade ago, continue to live in me.

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5 comments

  1. I had not visited your blog since long. You have posted quite a lot. I will read them later.This is moving, and beautifully written, as always!!

    Like

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