You left me speechless. It has been hard living without you. We do accept Allah’s decision, yet we miss you every day. Today, on your ninety-third birthday, I’ve decided to accept gifts from your life – the secrets to your successful life – it will help my readers and myself in our lives.
Secret of a Successful life.
I’ve observed you throughout your life. You are a Ghazi, having fought in 1965 and 1971 wars. Having observed you in so many situations, I’ve realized, it was the way you lived on a daily basis which brought you success; A brave soldier doesn’t suddenly happen on the battlefield, he becomes that person while doing other things in his life.
1. Making principle-centered decisions:
You were never in doubt because your concepts were clear. You made quick decisions, which proved right in the long run. Afterwards you never regretted, because you had made a conscious principle-centered decision, then gave it your whole-hearted backing.
Your major decisions:
Your decision to marry my mother was made within two weeks of meeting her; After that, you never wavered, no matter how many obstacles came in-between. After marriage, you gave her a place in home and in family. No one could mess with her. You took great care of her throughout the almost sixty-two years, of married life.
Having an only daughter:
In spite of pressure from family and culture, you never got pressurized by them. Even though you lost a son after me, yet you were clear in accepting Allah’s will. You treated me like a treasure, and brought me up to have great confidence, yet you never spoilt me. Though, you were a strict father, yet you always expressed your love and pride in me.
Joining the army:
You loved being an Infantry Officer in Pakistan army. I know, you never regretted that decision. No matter how tough things got, you found the best ways to deal with them. Once you got a regiment which was in doldrums, but instead of being disheartened, you set about making it one of the best. You worked day and night, and brought it to such a level that even at division level it was being sought after. That was your approach to any problem, you fixed it.
You loved driving and your cars very much. That’s why you never kept a driver. You kept the Austin of England, Austin Cambridge, Sunbeam, Corolla, Swift and Altis. Before I got married, my parents and I went on a country-wide trip. Daddy, remember, you drove from Rawalpindi, to Karachi and then to Quetta in your 1976 Corolla.
After my marriage, you drove Mum, Najib and myself from Rawalpindi to Hunza and Passu. It was a beautiful five-day trip to the North.
Your driving thrilled me. You drove so fast, that your friends admired Mummy for being able to sit next to you! Your love for cars and their maintenance was the same as my husbands’. You two spent many hours repairing your cars together. Your last car was driven by you, aged eighty seven years!
Love of pistol shooting:
Of course, as an army officer your shooting skills were great. You taught me to shoot well and handle pistols from an early age. You stood first in pistol shooting competitions, in 1976, you took a group of shooters, to Iran for a shooting competition in Tehran, during Shah Pehlevi’s time; when you were Deputy Commandant at Piffer Center.
Brave and fearless:
You always told me, ‘One thing is courage, and the other is stupidity! – you must know the difference.’ Those soldiers who fought with you in the battlefields in 1971 and in 1965 wars, spoke highly of you. Brig. Mumtaz, himself a valiant soldier mentioned to me what a brave and fearless soldier you were.
Your faith in Allah was unshakable, and it was your belief, that life is in Allah’s Hands alone. So, in spite of having fought in two wars, driven cars very fast, going to borders to meet the troops even in your older ages, you returned unscathed from all these.
Daddy, I know Mum was very apprehensive when you returned from India, (on March 4th, 1973.) You had spent two and half years as a POW in India. Many soldiers and officers who returned, had major issues. You had been imprisoned in the infamous Tehaar Jail for over a month, in India. Yet, you came laughing and joking about funny stories of the camps.
As a proud Rajput officer, I knew what a great blow it must have been to your pride. Yet you demonstrated great resilience. I remember, once asking you about it. You answered by something that someone close to you had observed, during those tough times, he had asked you, ‘how is it, that no matter how tough the circumstances, I have always seen you unshaken?’ You had told him ‘it is nothing but Allah’s blessing!’ That is all. Faith, actually.
One thing I do know, because you shared it with me, that in any given situation, you’d ask yourself, ‘what would Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) do in this situation?’ Your answer to this question would help you make the right decision. Your heroes were Hazrat Umer, Allama Iqbal, and Jinnah. So, you would do what they would have done in the given circumstance.
Dealing with any embarrassing situation:
In life, we all have to face embarrassing situations. I always admired the way, you dealt with them smoothly. You moved on, unscathed, understanding the fact that such things do happen, and it is vital to move on to the next chapter of one’s life.
Your four principles of life:
All my life, it puzzled me that while you were unconventional yet, completely confident. You were never affected by seemingly pious personalities. It fell into place when I heard a sermon by Maulana Tariq Jameel in which he mentions a saying of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), about the four elements in life needed to have a successful life in both worlds, I’ve mentioned these here: Briefly stated, these are:
- Being truthful,
- Never cheating,
- Pleasant personality.
- Honest earnings.
I have witnessed you living by these four elements. I’ve seen how ruthlessly you would treat persons who tried to bribe you, (by immediately returning crates of fruit and gifts). An officer once met my mother and told her that he had witnessed my father refuse the keys to a house from a man. That was, when my father was on a sensitive martial law case, in 1969; My father had furiously sent him out of his office, in Assembly Chambers, Lahore.
Sense of humor:
You would laugh out loud and enjoy a wonderful time spent with family and friends. Your smile was always there to push me on, and give me strength during my worst times. Your support, was always there to keep me strong and upright. You always ‘caught’ and enjoyed a good joke. Even if it was at his own expense. Once, a few months before his death, his sister Mubarak had come over to meet him. As I entered the room, he said to me, ‘My sister has just rebuked me in a nice way!’ When I asked him, he told me that ‘She says, my house is as far from your house, as yours is from mine, why is it that you don’t get to come to meet me!’ He was smiling and sharing this with me, saying, ‘she has really given it to me!’
Love of small children:
You loved children, dishing out sweets and gifts to them. Often listening keenly to their answers to your questions. Often, you’d give ‘horse rides’ to children on your back, when younger.
Love for young officers and youth:
Though retired from the army in 1980, yet till 2019, almost forty years on, you stayed in touch with officers of your units and regiments. Specially those belonging to Frontier Force Regiments of 8 FF and 16 FF. When 8 FF was posted to Rawalpindi, you were at the railway station to receive them. General Ghulam Qamar and Brig. Ajab and sons of your best friend Brig. Jawad.
In 2013 moving to our house in Islamabad, you went over to greet your troops on Eid day. You would keenly go to the borders to meet your troops off and on.
Naturally, you were invited to the dinners and functions in their Officer’s Mess. You happily accepted all invitations. Every year, you were invited by Gen. Saeed-uz-Zafar for the 33rd PMA Course Dinner gathering in Rawalpindi. Once, when you were invited for a stag lunch by General Iftekhar, in Islamabad Club, I explained that I always drive my father. So, special arrangement were made for this driver. 😊
The best thing about you was that you were never judgmental about others. You were willing to adjust and see the situation of others. In spite of being very idealistic, you were also realistic enough to see people as they were and love them for who they are. This is probably the main reason why you had such good relations with the new generations.
Good relationships, helps in good health:
Recently, I’ve enjoyed watching Impact Theory by Tom Bilieu. At end of every program he asks his guests the best health tip; it is invariably, about maintaining good relationships. That is what my daddy, you always had. You made an effort towards maintaining good relationships, this included your family, friends and others who mattered to you. So, this is the biggest health tip of your long life.
I never saw you take regular walks. Nor, did you play games. Though you were an athlete in your youth; yet, you were very active. I hardly ever saw you sitting around except when you read the papers or were watching to television. Mostly you were busy doing as much yourself as you could, even cleaning your shoes, your car, if needed. Gardening was your hobby, and I often found you bent down while standing, weeding the grass of your huge 500 square feet lawn in the two-kanal Lahore house.
Intake of water:
you didn’t drink water during or after meals; Conscientiously taking a glass of water, one hour before each meal. Otherwise, you took plenty of water.
You would cut fruit for Mummy yourself always. You bought it yourself, and served it too. You would praise it, and cut it properly for each of us. You often came home laden with the best seasonal fruits.
Food and meals:
As you were without any health ailment, you could have everything. You took every meal with gratefulness and happiness, never over eating, but would have a hearty lunch, while having a light dinner. Often, thanking Allah for the meal, and praising Mum for the food she cooked.
You always slept well – at least eight hours – snoring loudly. I would often copy the different sounds and entertain you later on! I had heard that with age sleep gets less, not in your case. What I really admired was, that if you were extra tired, then you would rest and sleep extra also.
you would take all medications advised by the doctors conscientiously. However, I feel the side-affects of these, finally were the reason for your getting disoriented in recent years. Yet, these were transitory phases, and you would snap out of them into the present.
You did sporadic chain-smoking for months, in your twenties, thirties and forties. Then suddenly one day, you would declare that you will stop smoking, and you did, for months or years. There was no smoking during your last forty years. Yet, in your last year, your lungs kept filling with liquid, and the doctor said it was the result of that smoking. It gave you great discomfort. So, this is something which we can learn, not to smoke at all.
Attitude of gratitude and service:s
Though I don’t remember seeing you formally praying, yet you were always grateful to Allah. You would profusely thank Allah in every possible way. Especially for your family; you doted on your wife, daughter, and granddaughters, calling each by a loving name like princess, or chief. You would listen to each of us with great attention.
We always saw how much love you’ve had for your mother and sisters. Your love for your siblings was of a practical nature. Yet, no one would be spared your forthright opinion if you felt like expressing one!
You lived well, had good well-kept cars, and wore excellent clothes, believing that when Allah blesses one so much, one should look blessed too!
You were generous to a fault. You spared no expense if you could afford it, and gave gifts to all. Thanks to this, you were mostly taking loans during the time in the army, even though Mum hated taking them.
In 1980, when you had retired, and we didn’t even have a house, or a phone. A soldier’s wife, arrived with her child from Sialkot. She was the wife of a soldier who had died recently. She said, that at his death bed her husband had asked her to seek help from Brig. Sarfaraz, if ever she needed anything, so here she was.
As you went outside to meet her, my mother and I sat, looking at the fridge door which had just fallen off, and was standing next to it; along with the sideboard, which was tilted on its’ side because one leg had given way! We both were laughing, and wondering what that woman would say if she knew the condition of Brig Sarfaraz as he was retiring! Of course, whatever cash he had that day, he gave it all to that woman, and she left happily. 😊
In 2013, when you both moved into our house, you had sold your house, so now with this cash you were able to help my cook Abdul Rahim in building his house, as well as other persons, including your previous maid, whose house you built with your Haj money, because they said you were too old.
A couple of years ago, when your lands’ manager asked for Rs.50,000 loan for his son’s wedding, you gave him Rs.2,00,000 instead. You were so feeble, still you insisted on going to the bank yourself, with help of your staff, who took you up the stairs to the bank, by holding you tightly. When we returned home, the man wanted to return the rest to mum and myself, but I told him, that you had given it, which meant you will never take it back.
This is the kind of father you’ve been.
You slept peacefully, and left our world peacefully too. Recently, I chose this verse by Iqbal to be carved on your epitaph as it depicts what you were:
Ho halqa-e-yaraan, to ba resham ki tarha narm,
Bazm -e- haq o batil ho, to foulad hai momin.
You lived the life of a true momin! Rest in peace my father.😊