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Archive for July 29, 2020

Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin- 17

Today’s post is about giving space in a matrimonial relationship. And let the other person be who they are.

Honestly I learned this from an example from my father, as an advice from my oldest Mamujan and ofcourse practically from Fasih.

I don’t think I was a bearer of a ‘big heart’ in my chest, until I learned from Fasih through his.

My Papa and Ammi were contrasts when it came to faith. But Papa respected her being too religious, while Ammi always insisted Papa keep rozas, pray 5 times a day. And would fear for his hereafter. Papa did not like it and would resist. But as Ammi grew older, she probably gave up. And much to her surprise one day after 30 years of their marriage, Papa asked her, “Meraj Begum Hajj pe chalna hai?” Ammi was blown away.

When Mamujan came to Delhi for my shaadi, from Jaipur, he told me he wanted to have a private conversation with me. And so he did beginning with, “Beta, your husband may not be like what you like him to be. Ager woh tum se itni muhabbat kerta hai tou apne ghar waalon se bhi karega. Usko rokna mut. Dont be a mean wife. Give them their due space with your husband.”
Mamujan was the most brilliant farsighted man in our Nanihaal. And a very successful.barrister and a politician. He knew the art of putting across the message in the most effective and emotive manner. His went on, “Dekho apne bhai-behnon aur Ma Baap se muhabbat karna koi jurm nahin hota hai, aur ager woh kerta hai, tou woh tumhare kehne se chhorega bhi nahin. Lekin tum meanness dikhaogi like possessive spouse, tou woh tumhare beghair unse muhabbat karega aur unka khayal karega. Yeh mayn iss liye keh raha huun kyunke tum wahan akeli hogi aur uski poori family. If his family is nice to you, be nice to them too. Conflicts start when there is tug of war in relationships.”
He told me he gave the same advice to his kids too.

Fasih let me be me. He loved my parents without any reservations. He was extremely friendly with my brothers. In fact these boys when together ganged up against me. He even respected my cousins and friends from India. Some of them have beautiful.memories of him hosting them in Taj.

For both of us, his friends became my friends, and my friends became his, with no fuss.

I saw my husband as a very committed son and a very close sibling especially to his sister especially.
When in KSA for 20 years, he got a good 45 days vacations every year. He split them into 2. He would take 2 vacations. One alone for 15 days just to spend time with his father. And another a month, when all of us as a family travelled to Karachi and then to India and some other destination at times.
He would come back from his single vacation and tell me, “This time I took Papa to Gawader and we had bbq fish on a local stall by the sea side.” Or “I saw these cases with Papa.”
His father would take pride to tell his patients, “Mera beta bahut acha chest physician hai. Ayega tou tumhara case discuss karoonga.” Fasih would narrate all these lovey stories on his return. Fasih terribly regretted how his father could not be there when he inaugurated Taj.

I loved and respected his close relationship with his sister too. They were best friends since their college days as she was a year senior to him in Medical college. It is perhaps this reason that now her two kids Alina and Ahmed, and my two children Fatima and Ismail call each other siblings and not cousins. Both of her kids live here in Toronto and how much has Alina been a support to Ismail is beyond words. Fatima often calls me and tells me she is so mindful of how phupo has also had a huge loss in her Papa’s departure.

He was a caring brother to his other siblings and even his cousins, uncles and aunts, and even to the living senior friends of his deceased parents.
Fasih was a popular doctor among his colleagues too. But he had been so generous to me, that I never felt insecure with any of his family, friends or colleagues.
I taught exactly the same thing to my daughter Fatima too.

It is so heartening to see now my brothers having connected more with my husbands sister and respect her and see her as an extension of their “Bobby bhai”.

Fasih was a binder in his family. Even in his going, one sees, all of us left behind learning from him and binding together.

As I was talking to Fasih’s sister a few days ago, we talked of how Fasih’s goodness with everyone he touched and his kindness is what people are remembering him for. And not which brand of car or what model of iPhone or how many branded watches he left behind.

So the bottomline lesson for all of us is…to just value relationships of ones family and close friends. Rest is immaterial.

My Papa- by Fatima Fasih

oday after some time of procrastination, I decided to deep clean our refrigerator. Doing so reminded me of my Papa and how routinely in our home, he would deep clean the fridge and freezer with Ammi.

My father was very different from typical husbands and fathers. My parents would always go for groceries together. Papa actually liked doing groceries and used to tell us that as a kid, his mom would give him a list and he would go on his bike and get all the sauda of the house. So when we would bring our month’s round of groceries home, all of us would lift the groceries from the car, to the elevator, then to the kitchen table and then all of us would have duties assigned to put the groceries in the right place. But most often, Ismail and I would take the one chocolate bar (under 1 riyal, of course) we were both allowed to get and would run off to our rooms. Papa was in charge of the fruits and vegetables. He would clean them, rinse them under water, and then put them in the right baskets/bins to the fridge or to put outside. He was also in charge of all the soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, shoe polished, dish soap, laundry detergent and other chemicals and would refill or restock wherever necessary. Grocery runs were an event in our family for one day of the first weekend of the month. We would go to the biggest hyper store, then fruit and vegetable market, and then end the night with either Tazaj, Al Baik or some Turkish food. Those were the golden days! Feasting after all that work was the reward.

Papa was also in charge of the laundry of the house and for a while, Ammi did not know how to use the machine because it was Papa’s task and if Ammi ever dared to, Papa would always put the blame on her for messing his process. 😂 Then the chore to dry the clothes after the machine had done its work was assigned to us 3 – Ammi, me and Ismail. Of course, if we got late, the clothes would smell and be ruined so we had to do it right away as per Papa’s instructions. We had a Bua in the house, but still some tasks were ours to do regardless. Once I saw another family friend ask their bua to bring her water in her room, and I asked our Bua as well, casually. It was not taken well by my parents and that was the best part of our upbringing. Instead, Ammi told me to give water to Bua whenever she wanted. Bua was not our “maid”. She was our respected househelp and any help she gave us, we had to be grateful for. And we were and still are.

Papa was also the handyman of the house. And not at all a procrastinator. He had a box of glues – ranging from instant glue, Elfi, UHU, epoxy glue, the white wood glue, glue gun with the clear refills as well as coloured refills and then he had a tool box of all tools and screwdrivers and of each size. He kept us involved as well and asked us to help him as he fixed things around the house. I was obviously his assistant so since early years of my childhood, I knew which glue and which tool to use for any kind of troubleshooting at home. Papa also always cleaned the drains, made sure nothing ever clogged and did plumbing work in the house.

Papa was also highly acclaimed for making the best chicken karhayi in the house. He even made katakat and handis at home for us once a while. A video of my Aqiqah in December 1990 also shows Papa cutting the meat to distribute during the party in the kitchen.

So when I hear of stories of men that don’t enter the kitchen, it makes no sense to me. I don’t know how it could be possible after seeing my father do so much around our house and beyond.

After a month of sulking, I decided to look back and remember my dad and how he was in times of setbacks and sadness. I quickly realised that he never let any thing pull him down – he had no time for politics, no time for sulking and no time for what people say about him. A desi uncle in Canada once said to him, “Dunya chaand pe jaarahi hai, aur aap Pakistan jaarahe hain?” He laughed it off and said “Yes, that is my dream.” Papa accepted the sad realities of life and moved on from them to continue his work. I remember him most recently when Dada died in 2014. He prayed for his parents, remembered them, but he did not sulk or sit around waiting for answers. He just did his work and did good work for his peace and patience.

There’s so much to learn from Papa’s life for me as his daughter, but for now I will begin to learn from how he dealt with the lows and how he enjoyed the little things such as a hot cup of tea and a bush full of flowers. He enjoyed Eid and always was ready for a day with his family and friends. I am sad that Eid this week will be the first without him, but I will plan to celebrate as he liked and hopefully if he’s watching us, he can be proud.

Note: This post may be long for a lot, but to me, this is a memoir into Papa’s life for us to read later as well as a way for me to remember him and the little details that get shadowed in the busyness of this short, chaotic life.


Farewell to Dr. Syed Fasihuddin- 16

Most of the times these days, nothing helps. Absolutely nothing. But then one flash of memory becomes a device and a mechanism to carry on…in the heart, in ones mind or in ones writings of silly meaningless moments and hold them close as priceless memories.
But again, one is again thrown back in a dark place with no clue how does one even make sense when one wheel of your bike goes missing. How do you learn to single-wheel after 30 years of a laid back life because someone else was pedalling it for you. I guess, perhaps, I am pretty sure, it’s not going to be easy by any measure. We must fasten our seatbelts for a roller coaster ride.

Fatima, Ismail and I laugh and cry momentarily recalling silly snippets. Recalling some silly memories out of many many, here….

Fasih and I had somehow developed a habit of communicating in different languages and dialects. It wasn’t deliberate. Dont know how it happened so organically.
Like I would ask him in Sindhi, “Chaaye piyendo?”
For any compliment he would say, “Dado Sutho”
For asking some cash when in Karachi, i would ask in Arabic, “Ana ibgha fuloos.” (I need noney)
He would respond, “Kam ibgha?” (How much?)
Me:”Kateer” (Lots)
He would respond, “Ana miskeen.” (I am poor).
Sometime he switched to Punjabi after having listened to a friend get angry at his wife for being too demanding, “Tu mainu kut ley.” 😀 (Chop me up).
He made the morning tea for a lazy me. And would keep it on the bedside in Bihari tone every single time, “Begum Sahiba kya anda bhi jushaand dein aapke liye?” 😀
(Shall I boil an egg also for you?).

Sometimes it was in goorh Hindi which went over and above his head. Or in Pakeezah style Urdu.

He sent the 2nd & 3rd pics..”.mubarak ho, mubarak ho, you have a grand chick” when his Greys pair Shakespeare & Cleopatra, who are his kids, hatched a new chick. He was later named Rio.

Fasih had gone to a conference in Lahore and messaged me the 4th photo from there with a query, “Kaif?” (How is it?)
I replied, “Ya Allah, What kind of conference is this? But you look great 😀 .”

Fasih was such a life…living every moment with his own brand of humor and flair.

We had our moments of serious arguments and disagreements too. It wasn’t all hunky dory all the time. But it was all part of a beautiful package.

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