No Father’s Day for you Papa

Call us insensitive, perhaps we are, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to dare say thank you to Papa.

Rehan Ali June 15, 2014
Papa never had a day; he always cherished and lived in our days. This Father’s Day is just another day for Papa. To someone who never had a day, this morning was no different since even today he was busy cleaning cars as we bid him salam after discussing a few tasks that needed his supervision. 

Papa had a tough beginning but that was never passed on to us, not even on his worst day. But then again, papa never had a day. What he passed on was something worthy of a king; love for life, passion for sports, discipline for hobbies, a brain that could dream and a heart which would go all out to make them real.

Every day would be the same for Papa. He had been completely immersed in providing for us. So much so that he completely forgot about himself. We never saw him tired or sick simply because he didn’t have time for it.

His advice was never limited to sports – even though he practically lived it. He would say,
“On this field, you are the best and if you doubt it even for a second then you shouldn’t be here.”

Nobody took the sporting field like he did, as we’ve been told by his contemporaries who included Anwar Ahmed Khan, Shahnaz Sheikh, Khalid Mahmood Hameed Kiddi and others. His picture album, the only reminder of his zenith, is filled with pictures of him receiving awards and medals from President Ayub Khan and other dignitaries.

An Olympic standby in 1964, he was called Bijlee (lightening) by hockey buffs and was seen as an ordinary man living a routine life. We only heard about his exploits from other people because he was playing an entirely different game by the time we gained awareness.

We never saw him going to the sporting fields because, perhaps, his priorities had changed. When his colleagues were playing as veterans or busy coaching different departmental or club teams, papa didn’t have time to even go and watch the game he loved so dearly.

He would go to work, unusually early in the morning and come back in the evenings, but was never exhausted. He took to the daily household chores and would help Ammi with laundry, dusting and taking care of us. He didn’t make much, as were the norms during the 70s, 80s and early 90s. But he made sure that we dream big and ensured that we live them. After all, you don’t have to be wealthy to be rich; you only need a father like Papa.

It was only after we became fathers ourselves that we truly realised the worth and importance of papa and how much he loves us. It must have been an uphill task, raising a family of five children in his meagre resources and to this day, he plays a big role in raising our children as well.

The thought of using a single day, one out of 365, to actually say that this day is yours because of the last 80 years and four decades of fatherhood is not worthy of this cake or that dine out. No, it isn’t. It couldn’t be.

Call us insensitive, perhaps we are, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to dare say thank you to Papa. It’s not because we’re afraid but because we are too indebted, proud and overwhelmed by his selfless contribution to our lives. Words simply would not live up to his devotion, the sleepless nights or the long days.

We never thought of thanking him in anyway, because come to think of it, we realised that we could never be able to thank him for what he did for us. Mere words cannot encompass and convey the magnitude of meanings or do justice to his efforts in our upbringing.

We are not sure that Papa has heard of Father’s Day because he never kept a day for himself. We believe the best way to show to the world how great our father is, is by staying connected and doing those tiny, little, good deeds left right and centre even to strangers. A value that papa taught us by example.
Rehan Ali A marketing major who has worked in the fields of marketing research, public relations and advertising. He writes on societal issues and changing mindsets. He tweets as @rehanaliz (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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Batool Naqvi | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend Great Mr.Rehan Ali :) Well we can not express in words how much we are thankful to our parents but if we really want to thank them then we should make them proud by doing things that they always want us to do. This is the only way that would let them proudly say that I have spent my life in polishing gems in the form of 'my children.'
Akber Wazir Ali | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend Rehan: good work buddy, the words cannot gather what parents do to raise a child, but sharing good words shows that their contributions are paying off by the generations to come. keep up the good work :)
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