His semi-wrinkled face cracked up slightly as a gracious smile adorned his visage. The familiar sparkle in his eyes resonated an uncanny servitude as typical of his way as a father. He nodded his head in acknowledgement even as his trembling hand stretched out to grab more meat from the pieces that were in his plate. It appeared as if that old man relished every little opportunity to share the food in his plate with his children.
Frail with age, slim by physique, and enamored by diabetes, he was nutritionally in more need of that steamed meat than any of his robust children, and yet he always gave it to them selflessly somehow comforted by the thought that he had fed his child at his own hand. One thing was for sure, that old man had spent his entire life trying to fend for his offspring in every way imaginable, sacrifice being his middle name. Not too long ago, he had been younger. And he had spent the better part of his youth, working more than he should have; a comfortable life for his children, his sublime purpose.
At times, the toil of his second job would get too tedious to bear and yet he would continue to do it, driven by the lure of extra savings to support his family. The desert sun has been known to be cruel and relentless. The radiation from that scorching desert star can make the sanest of men turn delirious. And yet he soldiered ahead, undeterred by the peril of the weather in standing as a cricket umpire for nine hours under that brute force.
There were times when his skin would break out in a radically dark tan affected by the impact of the rays, but it was as if he just didn’t care. He was so focused on his passionate objective, that of affording the best life for his children that he was oblivious to the hardship it brought along. Maybe it was that hardship that had aged him quicker than others, nevertheless he had always put his family’s comfort ahead of his own.
By the time he retired, his Parkinson’s had exacerbated. Despite the fact that he didn’t have complete control over his delicate nerves, he made sure that he drove his children himself wherever they needed to go no matter the distance. On occasion when he was without a car, he would still accompany his children to their destination just to be sure that they had reached safely; unfazed as a pedestrian, nor irate of walking long distances.
He would change buses, vans, and rickshaws hopping from one crossing to another, swinging lanes, dodging traffic, sweating in the bustle of Lahore city but he shouldered his responsibilities unmoved by the magnanimity of the task or the challenges that it came with. In order to ensure that meals would be available quickly lest his children were hungry he had learned how to cook, and cook well he did.
For wont of depending on anyone else to do it while his children waited for their meal, he would often try innovation in cooking and come up with the most outlandish, tastiest delicacies time would allow him to whip together. And when he wasn’t busy being their father, he was busy being their friend. Laughing at their deadpan jokes, amused by their company, cracking a joke or two with them, all in keeping them entertained. By the time he reunited with his Lord, that old man had done it all in the way of fatherhood.
He had labored, struggled, gone hungry, weathered storms, traveled distances, recovered from debt, offered, given, helped, supported, guided, and prayed. In fact, prayer had been the cornerstone of all his strength. But, even in prayer he was selfless. He would seldom pray for his own being. The subject of his prayers had been his children too, his entire life. Having died a peaceful day, that old man left behind a legacy of parenthood. As his latest grandchild gets ready to descend upon this world, his only son pens this scribe with one yearning wish. To be the kind of father that old man was.