I had to share my thoughts with you now, when I found out that you are unwell and I was missing you so much.
You have always been such a central part of my life. I don’t like knowing you are lying in hospital now, and I’m here across the world from you. I’m a little comforted to know you are getting better now, but I can’t tell you how helpless I’ve felt knowing I can’t be with you. It was good to know Waliya was handling things so well. Also my uncle Jafar and cousin Hasan there too. Nadiya has also joined in from Lahore, so I’m content, you are in good hands.
Alhamdolillah, you are better, and back from hospital after three days. I want to share my feelings. You know, as a child, I was a little scared of you. Though, you were always loving, yet you had a temper to contend with – one can see traces of it even now. Well, one had to have that temper, as you stood alone by your principles and standards among so many who didn’t.You don’t suffer fools gladly. Yet you are one of the most loving persons I know.
Never compromising on your standards, you’ve looked towards Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) and Hazrat Umar or Allama Iqbal for reference. You live by their principles. Last year, Brig Mumtaz came to meet us. He told me that he has seen you in the battlefield and you fought fearlessly. He told me, “Your father is the bravest person I’ve ever seen.” So, I know, you were a brave and courageous officer, as you fought in 1965 and the 1971 wars. Those who were near you watched you make tough decisions and you had the backing of your officers . You’ve been a great commander and officer of the army. No wonder you were the recipient of the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (M). Your experiences in 1965 were an example, and in Runn of Kutch where you fought, the land remained with Pakistan for the longest time – over six months. You were among the officers who took over the Monabao Railway station. Your 1971 battle fought in North of East Pakistan is already written, and I’ll be putting it up soon.
During martial law in 1969 (in Lahore) and later in 1977 (in Rawalpindi) you were given duties to deal with the civilian matters and you became very popular. Your sense of justice in dealing with matters became a yardstick for many. Once an officer came to meet my mother to tell her how honest you are. He told her how he witnessed a scene when a man came to you offering you the keys of a house, (in those days officers’ didn’t get houses after retirement) but you were furious with him, and turned him out of your office. This is why you were given the most challenging cases, and this is why you sometimes faced consequences also. However, nothing deterred you from your honest handling of affairs.
You were outstanding in sports, and worked with the legendary Brig Rodham, as a Captain in the army, in Rawalpindi. You were also a good athlete. Later, as DG Punjab Sports Board, you took the sportsmen and sportsgirls of Punjab to unprecedented heights. You introduced men like Sultan Golden to the arena, and he was able to break records.
You retired, after serving more than three decades of service in the army, you spent the next three decades being in contact with your regiments and brigades. You were selected to be the Col of 16 FF, 33 FF and 8 FF for many years, till you yourself made way for others. You are loved and admired by the officers of the army even today. This year the 8 FF regiment celebrated your eighty ninth birthday and asked you to cut the cake.
Till quite recently, you were driving your white Toyota Altis 2014 model. You made sure the number plate was made up of numbers of your two favorite regiments: 8 and 16! Driving has been one of your passions. You always drove very fast, and very few had the heart to sit next to you in the passenger seat without cringing at your high speeds! Your knowledge of the mechanism of the car has been great. Your dear friend Brig Jawad was the one who inspired you to do all the ‘mechanical’ work yourself. Many times I’ve seen you and my husband busy with car maintenance.
Born on March 2nd, 1927 in Surag you were the eldest son of Major Malik Muzaffar Khan Gheba, and the grandson of Malik Gulsher Khan Gheba. Your grand-father received the title of ‘Shah Sawaar-e-Hind’, due to his outstanding horsemanship. Naturally, you were an expert equestrian and enjoyed the sports of tent pegging and horse riding. Your grandfather was the one who had performed in front of King George the V on his Coronation celebrations in Delhi. He was given the spotlight and was seen by everyone as climbing a stairway to a great height. He was later invited to London also.
As the eldest of eight siblings you have three sisters after you, then four brothers. Here is a picture of Sargodha where you spent a large part of your childhood with your siblings. I invited all of those ones living in Pakistan in 2001 to come and revisit you all’s childhood places. It was a memorable occasion.
You were a very good marksman and wrote a book on pistol shooting. You were the recipient of the silver bullet more than once, which is the highest award for a pistol shooter. During the 1965 war, you managed to hunt over 67 bucks. However, you gave up this sport as you realized how cruel it is for the animals and birds. Now, your favorite past time is to watch the Animal Planet.
What I love most about you is the fact that one knows exactly where one stands with you. You only say what you mean. You are not afraid about what others might think. Your own mind is clear and you make it clear to others also. It really feels good. Perhaps, because I not only am used to it, but admire it too. It is not easy to be like that in our society. Now, you are all grown up so no one will object to whatever you say, but I know as a young man too, you were always straight forward and true to your word.
Your love is unconditional. Perhaps it is this quality of yours which impressed my mother who married you and gave up everything for you. She left those whom she loved, for you. She found you worthy of her love and devotion. You too, always said “She has given up so much for me, this is why I must do everything to make her happy and not regret her decision.” You have supported her in her decision to not give up her own religion. In Islam, no one is to be forced to change their religion and a Muslim is free to marry a person belonging to the Books. She didn’t do purdah like the other women of her times, and you supported her in this also. You took her with you wherever you went, just as Quaid-e-Azam took his sister with him wherever he went. When my mother converted later on it was only by her own conviction.
As a father, you were happy and satisfied with your one daughter, in a society like ours. When you lost your son, born after me, you said that your wife is not to suffer again. You told me that I’m equal to seven sons for you. Now-a-days you say “You are equal to a hundred sons for me!” Naturally, your saying such words mean the world to me. This is why, during my hard times I looked at you and my mother as my role models. I’d always seen how you both have had complete faith in Allah’s support and were never shaken by circumstances. Patience is yours and my mother’s greatest virtue.
When I fell on bad times, everyone was after me to shift in with you. There was a portion of your house which was for me. Yet, when I asked you, “What should I do?” Your answer was straight: “Do what your heart tells you to do.” That is exactly what I did, with your blessings!
You never push your opinion on anyone. Yet, you give all your support and blessings. This is a rare quality.
Always a generous person, you’ve given more than what you could afford. Yet, while earning you have always been careful to make sure it is only with your own hard earned and halal earnings. My whole life, we had enough to get by, but it wasn’t an extravagant life.
When my cook Abdul Rahim was facing financial hardships, it was your generosity which finally helped him in getting the house which he wanted, but couldn’t afford. His wife had died, just dreaming of a home of her own, and you knew that he was a very committed and honest man who had always worked hard. In the same way you have helped anyone who has asked you. You also got a house for the Christian maid who worked for you. Many times you have helped in building a roof, wall or room whenever they had a problem. You’ve often financed your staff for their weddings or illnesses.
This is the secret of your good health. Once I was reading that those persons who give the most charity are the ones who have the best health in later years of life. You have proved this. Another thing I really admire about you is the fact that you don’t take your health issues lightly. Even a slight indication means that you will drop everything and go to the specialist.
You love entertaining and meeting friends and relatives, and you make a point of always welcoming them and seeing them off yourself. Whenever I went to visit you, you were always there, waiting at the gate to receive me. Now, as many of your friends have left this world, you are close to their sons and daughters also.
Your love for your grandchildren is great. When the first one came, you called her your ‘Princess’ and treated her like one. No matter how tired you were from your day at the office, you would play with Nataliya, sitting on the ground, going along with her make-believe games. It was the same with Nadiya and Waliya. Now, with your illness in my absence, Waliya has taken care of you. Previously, you called her ‘Chief’. Now, you say she is number one. Naturally, your grandkids too are crazy about you. Nadiya also came from Lahore, and shared the caring of both the grandparents, in my absence. By the same token you really care for Bilal and Haaris both my sons-in-law and their respective families.
Your sense of humor and your laughter is something I’ve always cherished. Your keen eye always enjoys the humor in most situations.
I love and admire you today more than ever before. You are a great human being and one who is cherished, admired and loved by not only myself but all those who come in contact with you, in any capacity. May Allah bless you with a healthy long life and with all the happiness on earth. Ameen.
Stay blessed my dear reader, enjoy and cherish these priceless relationships that we sometimes take for granted. 🙂