Salaams Everyone! Today, I’m sad because I lost my cook Abdul Rahim, last year. He died exactly one month after my father last year on on Friday, March 22nd 2020. He took care of all the guests who kept coming for afsose and condolences for my father. Then he left our world too.
Joined me in 1999:
Abdul Rahim had been working part-time with me since October 1999, that makes it almost twenty years. My girls were in school, and I was teaching in ICAS when he joined us. Also, I was a freelancer for daily Dawn. So Rahim made sure there was excellent food in my ‘fridge. He would handle any water problems in the house, repair the water pump or any such issue too.
When my husband passed away, in 2012, Abdul Rahim saw my financial dilemma. so, when I tried to give him his pay, he refused to take it. ‘I don’t need it.’ It took a lot of effort to convince him to take it.
Parties for up to seventy people wasn’t an issue for him. He could easily handle anything. Once my Nighat Chachi asked me for recipe of his amazing Chinese rolls, I said, ‘open my kitchen door, say, ‘Chinese rolls,’ and it will be ready!’ She said, ‘you don’t want to share the recipe, I’ll ask him myself’. I said, ‘fine’.
She soon returned from my kitchen. Rahims’ speech was a bit slurred, so no one could understand him! She laughed and agreed with me.
Always refused, but complied:
A typical scene in our home went like this:
‘Abdul Rahim, please can you make some Haleem today?’
His look at me with raised eye brows, as if to say, ‘what? At this time?’ He’d shake his head in the negative, saying, ‘ Not today, we can try tomorrow!’
I’d say, ‘fine,’ and get back to my work.
He would return to the kitchen.
Then he would come back in a hurry…
‘I need some money!’
I’d look at him, (posing to be surprised.)
‘Didn’t you say you wanted Haleem today? How can I make it without the ingredients?’
Happily, I’d take out the cash and give him.
After getting the groceries, he would be busy in the kitchen. I could hear him working in a frenzy in the kitchen. Singing too. In between, he would come with the hisab or accounting of the shopping trip. He knew I write everything down.
In the middle of some work I’d get bugged, saying ‘tomorrow!’ He would bring my accounting book and say with a smile, ‘kal ka kiya pata! Abhi lay lein.’ (Who knows about tomorrow? Take it now!) I’d say, ‘it is ok, I’ll forgive you.’ But he would insist. ‘It won’t take long…’
He never kept any hisab or accounts pending.
He had my house keys in his pocket. He would come over to cook food and leave in ‘fridge. Even if it was at ten or eleven at night. He would come after his night shift duty at the Mess. Whatever his own work schedule, he made sure I had cooked food at my home.
Followed my system:
We had a system. Menu of the week on the kitchen wall. (He called it ‘meenuu’) We also had our secret place in the dining room, for him to leave days’ receipts and left over cash. Also, I’d leave cash there. In case I forgot, to place money there, he would get the groceries for the food, since he knew the shop keepers in the market. He knew I would happily pay up later on.
Rahim’s regularity and availability, was 100%. If he had to go on leave, he would inform me earlier.
On and off, he worked with me for twenty years. He had a way with each of my girls. He admired Nataliya the most. He always said that no one can be a patch on her!
Jovial and understanding:
Rahim stormed into the house on his bicycle, charging in with the groceries, singing away as he cooked. Mostly, he would be free within an hour or two.
His knowing smile was always there. When he saw me in some uneasy situation at home, he would give me a knowing understanding look. We would exchange glances, and I knew he felt for me.
Once he said, ‘I’m here just for you!’
Came to work in all circumstances:
When we were living in Rawalpindi, he was in Islamabad, he would come changing wagons, taking three hours, one way, then he would cook for the week and freeze the food in my deep freeze, in pyrex dishes.
In 2004, my husband was posted to a place around sixty kilometers from Islamabad, beyond Wah. Our car would come daily to Islamabad for the children in school and universities. I had an operation due to which I was bedridden for over four months, so he would cook the food in Islamabad, and the car would pick up daily. After I got well, we just continued!
About six years ago, I fell in the school where I worked, and developed a knee problem. I was advised the knee replacement operation of both knees by the best surgeon in town. When I told Abdul Rahim about it, he said, ‘As long as I’m alive, you won’t need that operation!’ He went with his wife to get me the best kind of flax seeds, and would make me have it daily with two glasses of water. It is true, as long as he was alive I didn’t need the operation.
When he retired, he didn’t have a house to move into. Lately, after retirement, he had got a house in Ghori Town, Rawalpindi, which was around twenty kilometers one way, but still he came. He used public transport till Islamabad’s F-7 sector, where he kept his bicycle, in a house, then cycled over twelve kilometers, to come to cook at my place thrice weekly.
Many times, I had to call and tell him not to come, his daughter would laugh saying, ‘who can stop him from going to your house!’ He worked till his last day at my place. Thank God, the roads were closed, so he was at home, the day he passed away. May Allah bless his soul the man with a heart of gold.
Now, you know, why I say,’ I’m blessed’? My only satisfaction is that he is with his Maker, after completing a wonderful and honest life. He leaves behind, a loving family, and very sad employers.
Stay blessed, my dear Reader. 😊
Somehow, I’d got used to getting high quality cooks for my home,
He became a member of my household and family the moment he stepped into my home in October 1999. He was an PAF Officer’s Mess Cook.