The Puny Giant

No doubt the die of life is already cast, but the characters who are ordained to play different roles in this journey leave behind larger than life personas which become your guideposts. Among all of them, besides your parents and teachers, the parents of your spouse are the ones who hold a large sway in this tryst. They hold your hand in the walk of life, anchor your step while crossing a stream in full spate and steady your stride as you keep on galloping on the hard gravely path of life. When the flamboyant me got married into the Makhdoomi household, little did I realise that my familial commitments had traversed the single path, to be joined by another one to form a matrix. This was the new road which subtly mellowed me down as I walked along, and made me what I am now. It was amazing to note that both my father and father-in-law were frugal in communicating their feelings about us, but the way they handled life was a lesson aptly spoken and well taught.    Although starkly different in disposition they were equanimous in their approach to life. Their influence in my life is strikingly more marked than I could comprehend or assimilate. While my father basked in the arrogance of inherited superiority, my father-in-law, Abdul Hamid Makhdoomi, was a self made man. He used the intellect he had in carving a niche in the society he represented, to respectful effect. His modest means did not deter him from providing a level playing field to his children who rose to occupy powerful positions in their lives. He did not discriminate on the basis of gender unlike the practice of his times. He kurtosed the predominant patriarchal ambience to bring up his daughters in an equal opportunity culture. He was very fond of reading and devoured everything that he could lay his hands on, to later reminisce about it and infer. The frugal eater in him did not deter him from providing lavish spreads for his family, us included, and he took an affront if we refused to partake in whatever was on offer. He had a very surgical insight in the happenings around and would always comment on them with precision they deserved and not with a jaundiced eye. He was extra gracious in adversity and more than large hearted in doling out goodies in equal measure to his grandchildren, who loved him unconditionally in return. Ably supported by his astute and beautiful wife, he was there for all of us every time, all the time.

He was a teacher all his life and made no distinction in reaching out to willing students day in and day out.  An example of this impartiality was the way he taught his Hindu domestic help, Rohit, treating him as his own son. Abdul Hamid Makhdoomi was well informed politically and stood particularly distressed at the things panning out all around. The only exception to his rule was the unfettered love he had for Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom (R.A), his ancestor. He wore this lineage on his sleeve with panache and pride. Impaired with a hearing disability, he did not let that deter him from keeping himself abreast of all his surroundings. He would lip read while watching all the news channels on television to update his knowledge of the world.

Sadly the last lap of his race was laced with a malady that was all out to defeat him. I take this opportunity to salute the valour of the team of doctors from different specialities at SKIMS who fought the battle along his side. His youngest daughter and her angelic husband, who outplayed us in caring for him, were captaining this wonderful team of diehard do gooders who tried all the tricks in the world to hoodwink the scourge but in vain. He lived a full life and walked the last lap with his children and grandchildren all around. Fond of the colour white, he completed his journey dressed in one as per his wish. He was the sheet anchor of our families and it will be very difficult to fill that void. He was a puny in appearance but a giant in his dealings with the world. We bid him farewell with tears, a salute of respect and a prayer on our lips. May Allah smile on him, and my parents, in Jannah, and help us to walk on the path they laid out for us. That will, I believe, lead us to fulfilment herein and in the hereafter. May The Lord bless all the parents of this world. Without them the world would not be what it is – soothing and sweet.