What I learned from my father



As I watch my husband with our daughter and this beginning of a beautiful lifelong relationship inshAllah, I think of my dad a lot, and all the things that made up one of the most beautiful childhoods one could’ve asked for. Our fathers are special to us and so was ours. He was the one that had our back always. Whatever came our way, this world never felt unsafe, because of course we had Papa, and he was always just a phone call away. He was the one that believed in us, always. He was the one that wanted us to dream bigger and higher always. In a country where many consider it unfortunate to have only daughters, he treated us like we were better than any sons and always told us that there was nothing we couldn’t do. Without him, today, it actually feels like we lost a part of our backbone and our support. Life changed forever in the instant that he left.

On this father’s day I just wanted to remember all the things that were a part of him and all the things that he passed on to us. Whether he is with us or not, he lives through us in the many pieces of him that are within us, our thoughts and our personalities.

Papa, this one’s for you.



1. Hard work and dedication. My dad was the hardest working person I have ever known. Through example he taught us that when you do your job, do it with purpose, with your whole heart, without worrying if it will pay off or not. He taught us to go the extra mile. I especially remember his dedication to any task he was on. I remember the many nights he’d be working on presentations or his speeches till late, making sure they were as close to perfect as could be. Before my sister’s wedding, we were making this video for her and all of us hurriedly wrote a few words for her, but I remember when I went to Papa, he took his time. He wrote a rough draft first and then came up with the most beautiful tribute ever. That was just how he was.

2. Responsibility and dependability. He was the kind of person one could depend on always. Not just as a dad, but whenever anyone needed any kind of help from him, they knew he’d go out of his way. And as a dad, I remember how every night he would check all the doors, I remember how if we had to travel alone, he would even print out maps of the transit airports for us so we don’t get lost, I remember how he’d tell us that he had insured our educations so incase something happened to him we’d be able to continue. Being from humble backgrounds and making ends meet on a limited government pay, he managed his finances such that he’d be able to give us the best educations available and save enough money to build the house he wanted for our family.

3. Raising daughters. Being from Pakistan, where many still believe it a bad omen to not have sons, he never let us feel any less. He instilled in us the importance of a good education and always motivated us to be our best possible selves, educationally and professionally. He believed in us and kept telling us we could do whatever we put our mind to. I remember how excited he was, when the Pakistan Air Forcestarting including girls as engineers and pilots, because he truly believed women can do anything.

4. Driving. My mom always said he was one of the best drivers around and he I don’t remember him losing his temper much while he was teaching us. I especially remember how he had more confidence in us than ourselves, stopping the car in crowded Karachi streets and telling us to take the wheel. Despite our reluctance, he would always insist we can do it. When I drive now, his voice is in my head continuously, as I remember the little things he taught me. Papa also insisted how important it was to know what’s under the hood too. He taught us basic things like being able to check oil life, pointing out the parts under the hood, even changing the tyres. I was going to take more lessons from Papa on my next trip and we had talked about it on the phone, but that could never happen.

5. DIYs. My dad loved fixing things, cars, computers, electronics/appliances etc. He was an engineer at heart and despite his busy schedule would find time to attempt to fix many of these things on his own. He’d always try to involve us in the process, explain the workings, what he was doing etc. I remember so many weekend mornings where he would be in his overalls, surrounded by his tools and busy fixing one thing or the other.

6. Importance of routine. All of his forces life, Papa had a regular routine that he followed. He was particular about what he ate, about exercising, about sleeping on time. He used to be the first one up in our house. Before he went to bed, I remember his knock on our doors, asking us what time we had to leave the next day, and suggesting we sleep on time, before he said good night, hugged us and went to his room. A proper routine gave him a way to include much more in his days.

7. Sports and Health. He loved his sports and all my life I saw him involved in one or another. From Squash in his younger days, to Tennis and lately Golf. I remember how much he’d encourage us to get involved in some sport too. I remember how on one of his trips to the US,  he brought us tennis racquets instead of the usual things that people would bring. He was so proud of my sister, Nadiya,because she took his love for tennis and was a great player herself. He and both my sisters loved watching tennis together on TV. He also loved his morning walks and I remember when I had sinus headaches he told me that the fresh morning air helps. I started going with him in the mornings and he was right, within a few days the headaches were gone. Even now, I think of his advice when I start getting headaches.

8. A principled life. In Pakistan, where everyone tries to find a way around the law, Papa would refuse to let us use the cars he would get for his official use, even though everyone around us would be coming to school in them. He would always follow what the rules said. When we complained he would tell us that just because others were doing something wrong, didn’t mean that we could too. He only let us use the cars and drivers that were given to him, when they were officially allowed.

9. Patience in adversity. I remember my dad as nothing but brave. Always. We saw him go through various hard times during his life, but never saw him give up or lose hope. He was always ready to fight. During his last two months, in the terrible condition that he was, I never heard him complaining or losing hope. He still tried to joke, love us and still kept asking us how we were.

10. Photography. Even though he didn’t officially teach us but he truly inspired us. The way he and my mom together recorded our childhoods, the pictures he took, the creative videos he used to make, inspire me today as I record my baby girl’s childhood. He bought his first video camera when I was a little baby, and loved experimenting, trying out new edits etc. Some of the video projects he did are still famous amongst his friends.

11. Organizing. Papa was one of the most organized people I have seen. He had a file system for literally everything. Now when we look at it, it is amazing, how he took time to label everything, make separate files for all kind of things, and that is why he was able to manage everything so well.  As we move on and settle in our own lives, we take these lessons with us and try to apply them in our own homes. Besides these physical filing, he was an expert at databases. He used to tell us how he uses Lotus to organize all types of important records. It was one of those things that I wanted to learn in detail from him so I can use it for our home, but didn’t get that chance in the end.

12. Moderation and Balance. Papa had travelled all around the world and had many friends from different countries/religions during this time. He was regular with his prayers, patriotic but a true modern man in his views and would never impose his opinions or disrespect others’. He was able to maintain the perfect balance.

And there is so much more besides this list, because the little things we learn from our daddies are endless and this is just a little attempt to summarize the important ones. What have you learned from your father?

Hope you celebrated your daddy today, and if yours has gone to that better world, pray extra hard for him and celebrate the memory of him. He is proud of you, know that.

Thank you for reading and for stopping by.