This isn’t a secret that my in-laws and I have had many ideological and philosophical differences over the years. Some of these differences have occurred due to our different social backgrounds and some just came into play due to our own contrasting personalities.
Regardless of our differences, my feelings have remained generally affectionate towards the man my husband calls his father, I lovingly call Abu and my kids know as Abba.
Abu holds a special place in my life. Is that because he chose me for Adnan to be his wife ? Or because he was always honest about his impression and feelings about something that wasn’t sitting well with him? Or because he was the first person to openly say that he suspected autism in my child?
Abu’s honesty was usually something that grated on my nerves. I avoided getting close to him or discussing uncertain situations with him. I feared his judgment and unsolicited counsel. I felt like I could explode during one of his nerve-wracking analyses of a decision that I was going to make. I generally stayed quiet in his presence. I sensed a similarity between us. And I wasn’t sure I liked it.
When I got pregnant Abu came over to be with me. Adnan couldn’t be with me until the baby was here and I still had about ten more weeks to go. I was worried that I didn’t have anyone to depend on as both Abu and Ami were, frankly, old. They looked like they needed care themselves. Also, I wasn’t particularly close to any one of them emotionally and it was uncomfortable to be sharing living quarters with someone who was almost like a stranger.
Slowly, however, I started to see how Abu’s words were almost prophetic. Not for everything but about career and finances, yes. He had an astute sense of protecting his children from any untoward circumstances. He also was gentler when you got to know him and almost deliberately lost a little of his sophistication when he wanted to remove the intimidation that his personality could cause. He endeared me with his candidness, frankness and his acknowledgment of my achievements. I started to trust Abu but more than that, I started to love Abu.
And so from a timid daughter-in-law he elevated me to his friend and confidante. Someone he shared his finances with and some of his secrets too. Someone whom he expected more discretion from than he sometimes expected of his own kids. From a pair of similar people with a silent disregard for each other’s stubborn values, we became allies in our love for Adnan and Minha .
Abu continued to advise me for as long as he lived. Sometimes solicited and sometimes not. But it was always good advice. Always. It was always unbiased. He was quick to judge but he had had a tough life and he didn’t want me to go through the same experiences that he had had with his employers. He protected me.
Abu never hesitated to tell me that he thought Minha was different. He was upfront, to the point and recommended expert evaluation. He didn’t beat about the bush. He continued to recommend it until I had her evaluated. After that, he provided nothing but support and a shoulder. And he provided a listening ear. And his endless love. Those were the only things that I needed and all my allies gave me those. My gratefulness for those people and Abu knows no bounds.
Abu got very ill after battling many health conditions. He was treated by the best doctors but still had a very brutal ICU stay and then death. He has remained my confidante in his death too. He hasn’t left completely. I use a lot of his advice even today.
My son missed out on all the amazing times that my daughter got to spend with her Abba. But my son knows him. Knowing Abu is easy. He was like a 411 book on life. If you’ve never read a 411 on life then you missed out too.
I remember Abu often. We were good friends and sometimes we were best friends of each other. Our relationship started with a hierarchy that I was too scared and Abu too eager to break. He broke it so he could call me his daughter-in-law and I could always lovingly call him Abu. 💕
Minha wearing Abu’s salah topiAbu and Minha. With his grandchildren he was a most loving grandparent. Abu and Ami. Abu told me many stories of his love for Ami. Abu’s birthday was always a modest affair.