Eight weeks today since we lost Papa. Strange how it feels like such a long time and still as if he hasn’t gone either and will somehow come back to life and respond to any of the messages I’ve left him on text, Messenger or WhatsApp. When Papa was here in Manila, I was only 2-3 weeks postpartum. Knowing how much Papa wanted to explore, I would leave Rahma with my mom and MIL for an hour or two some days and go with Papa to the nearby mall on a tricycle, go far to the other edge of the city in Taguig to book Rahma’s Aqiqah, or go to the pet store to get his dog some toys. It was a tough time for me, but going out with Papa without Rahma and a diaper bag felt empowering and relaxing at the same time. In his profile even, he has saved his picture from our compound here in Manila as his cover photo. Now even when we come back to Pakistan or move away, this place will hold a dear place for me – first, because Rahma was born here and second,
because this is the last place I met Papa and hugged him before he passed away. Had I known it was the last time, I would have hugged a little longer or wouldn’t let him go altogether.
Growing up, like most dads of his generation, Papa was not very expressive. He would get us gifts and get us everything we wanted, but would not say he loved us or hugged much. Ammi was always a hugger, but not Papa. Even though most of the disciplining was done by Ammi and most often she was a bad cop, Papa was the good cop. He would always come to mush things over when we would be mad at Ammi. He would say, “Don’t mind what your Ammi is saying. Don’t get upset. She only says things because she loves us. Look at me, I’m also tolerating na.” (Sounds better in Urdu) With a huge smile, his last sentence would always make us laugh. But since Papa wasn’t a hugger, Ammi would always tell us “Go hug your dad.” Almost every day. Initially, I remember us being awkward, etc, but soon it became habit.
By the time I was 10 and Ismail was 8, hugging everyone in the morning became a habit in the family which we didn’t break even until I was a mother myself. Though Papa wasn’t a hugger at start, we knew he loved us and would not say no to a hug at all – and so he ended up becoming a hugger himself. For some, a hug from their dad might not be a big deal, but it’s the little things that you remember the most when they’re gone.
Praying we have a group hug again some day, Papa. 💕