This is perhaps the only Father's Day I have ever marked as we never celebrated Father's or Mother's Day in our house. Every day was Father's Day and every day was Mother's Day. The reason why I am marking it today is because you are no longer with us.
"Best dad in the world" is a phrase used too often and sounds devoid of any real meaning or passion, but you truly were the best dad in the world. Growing up in Pakistan, fathers are usually fathers not friends, but you were both. I could talk to you about anything and everything and I did talk to you about anything and everything.
I have childhood memories of you bringing me loads of story books in a brown paper bag. You knew I was a keen reader and you nourished that interest of mine. I still don't know how you got those books because we lived in a very small town and there weren't any bookshops. I vaguely remember you telling me that you had a deal with a local shopkeeper and he specially brought them from the city. When you got ill, all I could see was that brown paper bag in my head and tears would roll down my face. It's strange how little things like these get stuck in your mind.
Your encouragement and pride for me is the reason why I am where I am. You wanted me to become a doctor and with your prayers I did. But you were humble in your pride too. Whatever we achieved in life, all five of us siblings, and God has granted us loads, you became more and more humble. You never took credit for any of our achievements.
You were also an extremely fun loving dad. I have fond childhood memories of playing board games with you, or outdoor games, or even simple joys in life like soaking in heavy monsoon rain while playing tag or dodge the ball. I was rubbish at the outdoor games and if I was in your team you used to tell me to run away as far as I could so I wouldn't get caught. I was very scared of face masks and my older cousin used to scare the life out of me by wearing them and I would scream with fear. You made me overcome that fear by making me hold the mask in my hand and saying 'look it's not real it's only rubber!', I must have been four or five at that time and this method really worked, I wasn't sacred anymore. I also remember you making me and a cousin make up with each other and promise that we would never fight again. That moment was very moving and resulted in a life long friendships between us.
My life is going around in my head like a film. You seeing me off for the first time when I got married and left Pakistan for England, those goodbyes at the airport seemed so hard every time, but nothing compared to the final one. Your immense love for our children, your contagious smile and even more smiling eyes, your laughter and your zeal for telling stories. Your stories were never short, everything had to start with a background, a context, and a scene was set before you reached the punch line. You were an amazing cook and I am glad I learnt some of your recipes from you last time you came. I remember many a time I accidentally drank from your glass of water and immediately realising it was yours because of the fragrance. You loved your perfumes so much that everything you even touched started to smell fragrant. I don't think I can ever watch cricket again as it will always remind me of you. Your passion for cricket and game shooting was second to none. It was a joy to take you on a holiday as you appreciated everything so much. I asked you a few days before you passed away about your favourite place to visit and you said Wales. You said you love it because of its varied scenic beauty. I know your love for the art was purely because of your love for its artists.
Life has its ups and downs and we saw some difficult times too as a family but you never ever despaired. Your faith, your prayers, your love and your smile was what kept us going. You had an immense faith, if it could be quantified it would be as big as a mountain. Your illness didn't phase you at all either. It gave us strength to see you so strong and hopeful. You taught us many lessons with the way you dealt with it and the resilience and courage you showed.
Words are failing me, it has been less than two weeks. My pain is too raw, my heart is too broken. My life has a huge void and that can't be filled. You used to call me every day. Talking to you or face timing you was a regular part of my daily routine. My heart aches to think that I won't be able to do it anymore. I won't be able to hug you anymore or share my stories with you or get your advice. My loss is for real and it is for ver. Nothing can change that. I will just have to find ways to cope with it, for my sake, for my family's sake and most importantly for your sake. I might have to borrow some of your faith to do that, perhaps you can send some my way?
As overwhelming amounts of condolences poured from all over the world someone said something to me that stuck a chord with the way I felt. She said that usually parents are the ones who feel proud of their children but you should feel proud of your father. And she was right. Abu, I am very very proud to be your daughter.
I couldn't muster the courage to say any goodbyes to you in your last moments. We didn't need words to express what we felt for each other anyways. But I am happy for the fact that one of the last things you heard was my daughter whispering in your ears " You are the best granddad in the world "
Goodbye my dearest Dad
Goodbye, till we meet again in the world after.