By: Nusrat Osama
It is truly said that ‘Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad’… and ‘A dad is a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love’. And so was my dad, I am sure every son or daughter would say this because in everyone’s eyes his or her dad is the best. But what really makes my dad so loveable and likeable were the qualities of his head and heart. He was admired not only by his near and dear ones but also by his colleagues and co-workers.
My dad was an ICS – officer (Indian Civil Service – 1945), a thorough gentleman and highly sophisticated. None in our entire family of both mother and father’s side matched his intelligence, his style, his sophistication and his knowledge of the world and religion. He won the Roll-of-Honour of Government College Lahore, for all four years he studied there, a gold medallist in English Literature. His name, Shahid Ahmed, appears in the History of Government College Lahore for his brilliant academic achievements. He worked as Command Controller Military Accounts and Financial Advisor to Pakistan Army, Air Force and the Navy at different times and retired as Director Finance, Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation. After retirement he taught in IBA, till his death. Dad was a literary person, he loved poetry. He used to read and enjoy poetry in English, Persian and Urdu. Like English, Persian was his second language. He used to collect couplets of his choice in diaries. I still own one of his diaries that date back to 1951. An avid reader, a collector of books, owning a personal library that housed books on religion, literature, politics, history etc. He could speak and debate on any topic. He would be the life of any party or gathering mesmerising people with his wit and humour.
He was a great advocate of female education. His desire was to see his daughters as educated, confident and bold women. It was to his liberal and encouraging upbringing that we, his daughters, today stand steadfast, bold and dominating in our own spheres. I remember sometimes just to avoid kitchen work we would hide behind our school books with an excuse that we have lot of homework to do. And dad would take our side saying to our mother, ‘Nasim! Let them study, kitchen work can be taken-care-of by the maid.’
Not only education, my dad disliked ill-treatment of women in the society. He had a habit of carrying a walking stick while going for a walk in the morning. One morning he saw a man beating his wife on the road, he was probably a labourer. My dad got so angry that he raised his stick and told the man to lay off his hands. The man got scared and started giving excuses for his behaviour, but my father did not listen to him. He brought the woman home. She lived in our home for some days until a group of her family elders came, who apologised for her husband’s behaviour, only then my father allowed her to go back.
Dad was a very handsome man, fair complexioned and smart. Sometimes if his office- leaving time coincided with our off-time he would come to our college to pick us. Standing by the gate in his black suit and tie, holding a cigarette between his fingers, he would look so smart and so graceful that I used to tell proudly to the girls standing around that he was ‘my dad.’ He remained clean shaved till the last few years of his life when he donned a beard. Some people appreciated his beard but personally I never liked his bearded face. In his older years at one stage his physician advised him to eat vegetables and fruits to cut down on his growing weight. My mother put him on a diet of boiled vegetables and fruits. For two-three days he ate what was given to him, one day when my mom put the bowl of veggies in front of him he pushed the bowl aside and said, ‘Nasim! If you feed grass to a lion, he will die much before his natural death.’ And that was the end of his dieting.
Apart from poetry and literature religion was his passion. I remember from a very early stage in our life Dars e quran was held every Wednesday in our house, which continued for some time even after his death till our mother was alive. Dad was a true ‘Ashiq e Rasool’ (pbuh). He loved listening to naatia qawwalis and naats. I remember whenever he listened to a naat on TV or one recited by his ‘naat khawan’ friend, tears would roll down his eyes. Sometimes he would perform ablution and stand with his arms folded and head bowed in extreme devotion and respect. He authored two books ‘Sayyed e konain, pbuh’ and ‘Dastoor e zindagi,’ he was translating the holy Quran in English, but he could translate only ten chapters as he succumbed to cancer at the age of 69. My dad was a very gentle person, he had a very dainty disposition despite his somewhat heavy appearance in his old age. He was literally afraid of injections. I remember when he was diagnosed cancer; he refused to be admitted in hospital. His chemotherapy was arranged at home. But his condition worsened after the very first dose. When he was finally taken to the hospital, he looked at the sky as if it was his last glance. He died within a few days, leaving us all broken-hearted. May Almighty bless him highest place in Jannah, ameen. He was good not only to his family but to his extended family, co-workers