Reading Father: An Absentee Father

Reading Father: An Absentee Father
I  was very young so my memory is very sketchy about my father, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He was working for a newspaper and worked late hours. Most of the times, I would see him sleeping in the morning and when he was back from work, we would be sleeping. When we came back from the school, he would be at work. He was a very generous father. He would always give me money whenever we met.

There were difficult times: When I was building my house and we didn't have any money, we had to stop building at one time, then he came silently, he had come from Beirut. He gave us $500. At that time, it was a lot of money. He just put it in my hand and said, "Don't tell your mother". So that made a room or a bathroom or something.

I worked at the Pakistan Television during Zia-ul-Haq (military rule) years and due to differences with my father, they always discriminated against me. They stopped my promotions etc. My father was in London at that time and I wrote to him to come back to get me out of trouble and he did come back to support me.

I can remember the long train rides to Hyderabad (jail) and back when he was arrested. I remember the cell, sometimes, of going inside and coming out. I remember sitting outside. I remember waiting, I remember coming home alone. I remember him walking in; I remember his perfume, sometimes. And I would sit in his lap... I remember the night he came home very clearly; the garlands that I had around my head. There is a picture somewhere also, but I can't find it. 

At my 10th wedding anniversary, he brought me a pair of earrings from Moscow. Very special. Every birthday, he would ask me what I would like, it didn't matter how old I was. When I was young, it would be little things. When I was old, he was hardly ever around but when he came he would bring something. They were very precious to me. I don't unfortunately remember where I kept most of them or they are lost.

My father never taught me much or helped out with school. I feel that was missing. Even my mother was busy with courts. It was my phuphi's (paternal aunt) responsibility for me at least. Her name was Iqbal. We called her Bali.

As for my memories with abba (father), I think there's some kami (lacking) in me, or rather, I call it a kind of a defence shield that I have blotted out a lot in my life. Must have been deliberate, I try not to think about it. Because my childhood was a very lonely one I think that's why I blotted out a lot of things. Even when I dig and dig and dig, I get flashes and I shun them. It is probably a defence mechanism.

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