Dear Aba Thank You For Everything

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“Simba, let me tell you something that my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars. … So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.”

— Mustafa, in The Lion King

Dear Readers,

 

Few years back we posted a very touching story of father and his struggle with his daughter’s anorexia, ‘Dear Daughter Your Father’s back is broken’.

This story was an instant hit and went viral over night. We didn’t expect this blog post to become such a hit, but it did and we thank you all for your very positive feedback.

 

This year we received a very touching tribute to a great father by his great daughter. Nothing touches me more than this father’s journey and changes he went through as a person.

I We take this opportunity to wish all fathers a Happy Father’s Day.

 

 

 

To My Aba Thank you

Happy Fathers Day. May I have a thousand more Fathers Day with you. We are so far from each other but not a day goes by where I don’t think of you.

Your grandson will turn one soon, oh Aba, how time flies. Remember only yesterday you became a grandfather, you were here and were the first to hold him.

 

 

We are waiting for things to normalise so we can visit you and Azeem’s family in Pakistan.

I am well Aba. Your grandson is hard work. I can tell that he is going to have typical desi habits. He is onto solids now and loves his daal chawal, choley and halwa. I guess this saves time and hassle of purchasing baby foods as he often rejects them.

Every time I look at him, I think of you. How can I not think of you when I named him after you. So many objections and backlash over the name but its the perfect name Aba.

It is very hot in Pakistan and I know you are managing just fine. You always adapt Aba and you always do things without a single complaint. I hear you’ve become a part time shephard as well and at times you have a motorbike as well.

 

I heard Dadaji (grandfather) is doing well, the movement in his left arm is back so him and aunt are happy. You are serving them and indeed through them, you are serving God.

Aba thank you for being a good father to me. Thank you for pulling me out of the darkness that is my illness. Thank you for believing in me when everyone else rejected me.

I remember in a therapy session you told Mum that despite your 20 year stay in the UK, you still felt like an outsider. It hurt me to hear you say that because I too felt like an outsider, after my marriage failed. I always thought everyone around me was better than me.

I left home against your will and married a nightmare against your will. Those days with him were so hard Aba and I thought of you night and day, night and day, I just wanted to tell you, how sorry I am to put you through that nightmare.

I came back home and you took me in. I left again thinking maybe I can make my marriage work. I came home again broken and shattered. He just wasn’t you Aba. He was harsh. You never spoke back and he was always full of anger. You spoke softly with your eyes down and he spoke loudly and with direct gaze. He criticised my appearance and you always told me how good I looked.

The nightmare of marriage ended and you nursed me back to health. While Mum returned to her social duties you were the one who fed me, cooked for me and tried your best to follow the meal plan given to us by the nutritionist and the treatment team.

Every week you would iron my clothes and helped me get ready for my outpatient appointments.

I started to come back to life. You would stay with me all day long and when Mum returned home, you would simply drive off in your taxi. You would return home early in the morning, just before mum left for work and you would greet me with my breakfast and a huge empty smile.

And how can I forget the moment of pride when my genius brother your only son graduated from medical college. I remember you standing in that celebratory crowd, looking lost. You wore the same three piece suit to the graduation ceremony and after party. I remember how uncle scolded you off for being stringent and backward, “At least you could have purchased a new suit for this event. Look, we all are dressed in our new outfits.” You said something which made me smile, “the polish on my shoes is new.” I am sorry Aba, how so many of us mocked you for your Pakistani accent.

In our last family therapy session, the family counsellor, said: Mr Abdullah You are very quiet and very sad, what do you do for fun and enjoyment?” Me and mum had already listed our activities. You responded with: “I call my Aba in Pakistan. I look at fields and think of home.” Mum asked which home and you said your home in village. Mother looked embarrassed and I felt sad.

You told me that his father my grandfather often asks about me and thinks  I’ll be a good teacher so I enrolled in a teaching course. Everyday you would drive me to college and back with a hot chai in your thermos. If I got delayed upon returning, you would wait for me in the car in the cold and never complained.

“Soon you’ll be a teacher”, he would tell me. Well done my child. And I became a teacher. And you celebrated and Abba Ji celebrated and it made me cry seeing how happy you were. Mother was happy but a bit disappointed. Anorexia  never came back because you wouldn’t allow it to come back.

Mother wanted me to settle down and now with a job and good health, proposals started to come, but I refused and you came to me one night and requested that I rethink my decision.

“ You get married my child so I can return home and serve Aba ji with dignity. He’s ill. I can’t go back till I’ve fulfilled all my responsibilities.” I obediently said I would say yes to anyone you would pick for me.

There was another backlash in the family. The man you picked for me was not rich enough and there was nothing extraordinary about him. I met him and realised he was perfect for me, because he is so much like you.

I am happy Aba. I moved millions of miles away to Canada. Such a simple wedding it was Aba ji and you cried so much. Azeem takes care of me. He asks me why do I call you Aba now and not Dad and I said because Dad is an ordinary word and a man like you is simply Aba. A man who sacrificed everything to get to the UK and later realised his mistake. A man who changed after his daughter left home and became Aba from Dad.

Many years ago, you described your anguish and your grief over me and today, I tell you Aba, thank you is a small word for me to express my gratitude towards you. Thank you for saving me Abba and thank you for loving me without a condition. I pray I see you soon in Pakistan.

 

Wishing you Happy Happy Fathers Day.

 

 

 

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Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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