As I sit to write, I am filled with a million memories; memories that have been a part of me, memories that began right after my birth and those that have stayed right beside me all my life, memories that no one can take away from me, memories that make me feel loved, memories that I shall treasure forever. For as long as I can remember, my grandfather has been there, the head of the family, one who was respected and held in awe by everyone; a lamp in the darkness, the backbone of the family.
But for me, he was a beloved friend; my Aba. He was an advisor, a guide and a companion. I used to call on him anytime, ask him a thousand questions and sit with him for hours together.
A grandparent is very important for a child and a granddads love is a blessing. I was lucky to have Aba as my grandfather and friend. I being the youngest member of my family shared a very special relationship with my grandfather. I loved sitting near him and see him work or read. I would even ask if I could shift all my belongings to his room. For as long as I can remember, I took pride in being Abas granddaughter. I would try to intimidate people by telling them Id tell Aba if they messed with me. If my father scolded me, Id shriek my grandfathers name and my father pretended to get scared. I would knock on doors and ask people to open up because I was accompanied by Aba.
I remember going with him to the market because he promised me sweets. I even insisted in accompanying him to the mosque sometimes. I would sit near the window sill while he led the prayers. He was the most respected person in our Mohalla; almost everyone I knew called him Aba and revered him greatly. For almost all his life, he would wake up an hour before Azan go to the mosque and pray till it was time for the congregational prayers. It was he who then called people for the morning prayers. He would offer five times prayers strictly and led many prayers and Fatihas. Poor people would throng our home asking for charity which he willingly gave. He was a pious man and people often asked for his advice on various issues
After my grandmother passed away, he was the one who would receive me from the bus stop when I returned from the kindergarten; he would then feed me food. I being one of the noisiest kids in our family would never sit quietly. I would run around the house and he would run after me with the dish in his hand.
He was the one who told me countless stories of the prophets. I would listen with all my attention as he tried to fill me with knowledge. He had a passion for reading and always had a lesson to deliver and a story to tell. His knowledge of the religion was endless and he knew a lot of the holy Quran by heart. He would narrate verses out of the Quran and fill me with reverence for great people of the past. I still remember sitting for hours together at dinner with and discussing many things. And each day he had a new lesson to give, a word of inspiration. He used to advice me to read Urdu literature, so I would look into Urdu poetry and I would run to him to explain various verses of Qulyaat-i-Iqbal. I was thrilled when he told me of Shikwa and Jawab e shikwa. No matter how busy he was, he always had time for me.
I do not remember my grandmother, so my Aba was both my grandmother and my grandfather. I grew up knowing he would always be there. He had always been old for me but never had I imagined that he would go after all.
Growing up with my grandfather made my childhood colorful; I was lucky to receive unconditional love, care and having someone in the family who is respected even by your father. My grandfather was a person who had the solution to all problems, who knew everything I wanted to know.
He for me had always been there and as I grew up, I never realized he was getting weaker. His health was failing but he was a fighter always. His faith was put to test many a time but never did it stagger, never did it diminish even in the greatest pain. He suffered many heart attacks and had to spend countless nights in the hospital but never did I see him complain. When I visited him in the hospital, he would smile as if there was no greater joy in the world than seeing me. His kidneys were failing due to diabetes too but he still was unwilling to lie in bed. His work was his passion and despite his illness, ignoring our pleas, he would go out. Any man in his place would have taken advantage of his illness and never left his bed, but he tried as much as he could to retain his normal schedule. He was a true fighter; though his illness weakened his body but it couldnt harm his soul which was protected by his good deeds and devotion!
When he was brought back from hospital for the last time, he was critical. But whenever I went into his bed room, he looked at me and smiled; a smile of pure love; a smile that I shall take to my own grave.
He had always been one of the most handsome men I knew and even when he was very ill, he retained sheen on his face. His honey colored eyes always had the gleam of wisdom and knowledge. His face shone with peace and serenity. Even when he lay dead in front of me, it was hard to believe; he looked as if he was fast asleep having a dream as beautiful as the life he had lived! He may be gone, but his deeds live on, in me as the knowledge he gave me and in countless other people he helped. I shall remember my grandfather; Grand in every sense!
Now that he isnt here, his absence haunts me. It hangs over my heart as a dark veil. His vacant room calls for him and life mourns his demise.
But then he hasnt really left forever, he has gone on to the next destination and sooner or later we all shall follow him!
Qazi Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Hamadani, grandfather of the author passed away a few weeks back. Feedback: [email protected]
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