Last month, my father passed away.
I got the news on a cold morning and rushed as soon and as best as I could to his city. International flights and travel being what it is, I could not get there in time to assist in his last rites. I was never as good a son as he deserved and it was perhaps destined that I would fail in the last duty a son owes to a father. Something that I will always regret. I know for certain that my family does not hold it against me and they understand the situation as it developed. I know that even God can not change the past but it does not stop me from wishing that I should have been there to be a part of the events. At the same time, my heart is filled with gratitude for all my friends and kin who came together at the time and did all that was needed. In many ways, they performed better than I could have ever managed. It is a debt I owe them which I do not think I would ever be able to repay.
In the past month, I have reflected on what my father meant to me and have heard glowing tributes concerning him from everyone I have met. He was a man with an infinite capacity to forgive and spent his life living with the rules he knew to be right. He was a lawyer, an engineer, a writer and as I remember him towards the end of his days, an avid crossword puzzle solver. What I remember most fondly was how he shared poetry with me and read it to me as I repeatedly stopped him to ask about the meanings of difficult words. Born in Tehran, he had a familiarity and ear for the Persian language which only a native speaker could have. He would often encourage me to read the mountains of books he had laying about the house. I know that if I had only read half of them I could have been a far better man that what I am today.
I miss him terribly. Tremendously.
Going through the things he had left behind brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. He was fond of fountain pens and good perfumes and had collected a stack of those. Many of which I had personally brought for him as gifts over the years. I found a lot of them unused and in their cases. I also found a pair of cufflinks which he had bought as a gift for me. I could not find the heart to put them on and have given them to my mother for safe custody. It was the last gift I received from him and that too comes from beyond the grave. Perhaps I am too afraid to lose it. However, it was his first gift to me that I remember and value most. The importance of an education and elucidation. Both of the mind and of the soul without which no one can be complete. I freely admit that my father and I had our differences, in politics, in thought, in matters of faith and how life should be lived but he always respected my opinions and gave me complete liberty to do as I wished. He never held me back and even if he disagreed with what I did or said, he only advised me and never enforced his ideas on me.
It is perhaps foolish to believe that he is still watching on and smiling from the heavens above, still playing chess online on his laptop and still reading the newspapers while commenting about what all is wrong with the world over breakfast. Yes, quite foolish. Yet it does not stop me from hoping that it is true.
I will not see anyone like him again.
فریدی طبیعت وہ فرشتہ صورت نہیں ملتی
رستگار تو دور، ویسی مورت نہیں ملتی
یا رب بخش دے، انہیں جو چلے گئے
دے صبر، کہ صبر کی طاقت نہیں ملتی
That unique angelic man is nowhere to be found
I will not find one who exceeds him, nor one like him
May God forgive him and bless him; the one who went away
And I ask the Lord for patience, for I do not find patience within me