Friday, 29 July 2016

"Legacy of the father I barely knew" (By M. Zafar)

You can't have much of a memory from someone you know for a very short time. Frankly I feel like I've known my grade 9 high school teacher better than I knew my dad. I first met him when I was six or seven years old. Before that he had come to Canada hoping to sponsor us and left when I was six months.

I remember I would record my voice in one of the old 1990s tape recorders and my mom would send the tapes to Canada for my dad to listen. Back then it was so expensive to call, my mom figured it would be better to use this approach especially since my dad could listen to the tapes recurrently if he chose. My dad never told us this, having to live up to his macho sense of being a male, but my mother later told me he would listen to those tapes at night before going to sleep and often cry since he missed us so much.

The truth is I never got close to him. I was 6 months when he left to Canada. I did reunite with him at age six but he left for good before my 12th birthday. So we spent roughly six years together most of which feels blurred to me now.

So what legacy did a man I barely had a chance to get to know leave with me? We probably had a couple of father-son moments which were unfortunately overshadowed by negative ones. My dad simply didn't grasp the idea that when you are not there with your son for the first six or seven years of his life, he will be a bit reluctant listening to each one of your “commands”. But hey, he was old school. Can’t really blame him for that.

Our most notable father-son moment came before he was returning to Pakistan for a short visit. He spoke to me about how I had to be the “man” of the house while he was gone. At 11 I didn’t quite grasp what it meant.

He wasn’t sick for long and perhaps that is why he could never leave with me words I would remember or lean back on. Last time I saw him alive he wasn’t able to speak and hugged me whilst in immense pain. I’m sure he would have loved to leave me with an impression or a legacy about how I’d remember him. And ironically he did. In the best way possible. I remember his interest in listening to Quran.

He never taught me to recite Quran, or memorize it, and to be honest I don't even remember him telling me to ever go read.

But he had one habit: anytime he drove he would always put on Quran recited by Qari Waheed Zafar (No relation by the way) with the Urdu translation. I began to enjoy it too as a kid and was ecstatic to find it online many years later–it not only provided me with a chance of listening to the Quran but also brought nostalgic memories with it.

So that’s what I remember about the guy who was diagnosed unexpectedly with cancer and didn’t last longer than 2-3 months after that.

My dad probably never thought playing Quran in the car would be the strongest link I would have to him when he died; he probably gave it no thought when he used to always play it in the car. But when I listen to that same Quran recitation now, I will always know who introduced me to it.

May Allah unite us all with our loved ones in Jannah.
--------------------------------------------------- [Quran by Qari Waheed Zafar]