Life is full of paradoxes, and the unexpected bits are the best! Well, so here was my 88 year old Daddy (he insists he is almost 90! – ) He was so excited that his friend is coming. I was busy with trying to settle into a proper work routine in my Studio. (After giving up my very nice job, so I’ve got to start doing my own work.) So, I wasn’t planning to sit with him and his friend for too long.
As long as I can remember, there was this invisible Brig Mumtaz, who is my fathers‘ friend. So, he came from Lahore to meet daddy. Unlike the bulky presence I expected, here was a petite a bit squeezed up version of him. – Must be about 86 years old. So, I went to meet them a bit later so Daddy could have his own uninterrupted time with his buddy, before I barged in. I planned to just sit for a few minutes and then slip off to my studio/office in the basement.
As I entered, he gave me a warm welcome, and surprised me by saying that he had actually come to meet me. There he sat with my Dad in the sunshine spilling all over them from the back, giving me an impression of keen eyes, and a very sweet and loving personality. He started off with praising up my articles which he had been reading for a long time in the newspapers. Of course I loved it. Yet, I was wondering what is coming…. It did. …. “You have written about everyone and such interesting topics. But you have not done justice to the most important person in your own life.- Your father Brigadier Sarfaraz.
“I’ve known your father since before you were born. I’ve met your mothers’ parents in Saidpur, East Pakistan. I’ve known your father for longer than you have. He was senior to me, and I’ve admired him all my life. He is so brave, and has such a character and personality which people should know about! His life has been a shining example and he has been a role model for many officers in the army. All this must be recorded. It must benefit and be a beacon for the soldiers of Pakistan Army.
“Why don’t you write an autobiography of him? – As a writer, that is the least you can do for him!” I told him that I’m already towards the end of a biography on Hajra Mansoor. Also, I’m writing four more books. So…. ”
“Leave them all! This is more important than anything else!”
“We have very little time left. I feel that this may be our last meeting. Who knows? Soon I or your father will be leaving this earth !- in fact, I’m quite sure of it.”
Meanwhile, I was thinking what to serve him, as Hasnain, my domestic help had told me that he had refused to have anything. So, I asked him to bring the chicken corn soup. That was much relished. Then I offered some spinach, with yogurt served with fish (on his request) and special ‘wassilis’. (I messaged my daughter Waliya who had gone to get her car done up at the auto workshop, to order fish fingers for home delivery. )
Uncle Mumtaz got quite carried away with his plans and preparations for the next world. He went into details about how he had put all his property into the names of his off springs. He enumerated what he is living on – namely his pension, house rent and some saving’s monthly profits. He was living in smaller house than before, and with his son, daughter-in-law and grandson. He praised them all so much. Of course they would love him, when he has done so much for them.
Then he went on to give advice to my father:
“You know, we have done our bit. We did our best, and fought two wars, the 1965 and 1971” (later on my parents filled me in on what a very brave soldier he was!) “We have done whatever best we could do. Now it is time for us to sit back and relax and take care of ourselves.”
These are the points he suggested:
- Watch one movie every day . (Sound of Music and Roman Holiday top that list!)
- Listen to songs daily.
- Never listen to the news. (“Goli maro unn sab ko!” – shoot the lot of them!)
- Go for a walk for half an hour every day, no matter how much you don’t feel like it!
- Spend the whole day with your old friends, (“Like I’m doing now! I am enjoying myself so much.”)
- He had come all the way from Lahore, stayed in an Officer’s Mess, to meet my father and myself and went back on Daewoo bus to Lahore, the next day.
Needless to say, I forgot all my plans for the day and enjoyed my time with him and my daddy. Later on I said “Daddy, you weren’t talking so much, he said, “He has changed so much. More than half the time I was wondering if it was the same person!”
I really love my Daddy and grew to love his friend Brig Mumtaz also.
What the heck, I’m already writing four more books – why not a fifth one, and one so close to my heart. My Father.