Some things never change … not even with time

Originally written for Gulf News “Off the Cuff”:


I’ve always loved Dad’s eyes. He has these deep grey eyes, which somehow give an impression of being ringed with violet when light falls upon them. I sit on the floor beside him and put my head on his knee.

It looks as though nothing has changed and little time has elapsed since those chilly winter mornings when I would stand by the front door in my brown uniform, greeting Dad before I left for school. He would walk over to me from his arm chair and his morning paper and would take my little hands in his big warm ones and comment on how cold they were. Then he would cuddle them and give not just my hands, but also my heart some much-needed warmth.

Lately though, Dad has not been keeping well. It is perhaps loneliness or perhaps the troublesome knees that just seem to be a part and parcel of old age. His face is lined, yet calm, and his silver white hair is cropped short. His legs are stretched out on an ottoman and he is leaning into his arm chair. I’m visiting him back home because I’ve been missing him a lot and it seems like ages since the children and I spent any time with him.

Our lives in Dubai have become like mechanical clockworks, where we compulsively follow timetables, meet deadlines and plop thoroughly exhausted in bed to refresh ourselves for the strenuous day that will follow. I hardly get a chance to ask Dad how is doing, to enquire about his day and to let him know how much I miss him. I am grateful for the moments I am getting to sit by his side, enjoying his company.

However, the conversation we are having is nothing like I had planned. Dad is in fact asking me how everything is with me, whether the opportunity I was hoping for worked out and so on. Soon I am talking animatedly and Dad is nodding interestedly and saying a few appropriate words here and there. A profound feeling of deja vu puts me in thought.

I marvel inwardly at that special sense of security and comfort that one can experience exclusively with one’s parents. Here is somebody who genuinely cares about what I am up to — who has all the time in the world to listen to everything I have to share, a person who has nothing in it for himself, but is full of selfless consideration and concern just for me. I do not mean to say that other relationships in our lives are not wonderful or that all our friends are insincere. I am stating the obvious: The tender love and care a mother or a father can give their child — regardless of the age of the child or parent, is simply unparalleled.

I continue to talk and Dad listens, engrossed. The conversation (or should I say monologue) takes a turn and I can’t help but discuss everything that has been troubling me lately. I chide myself silently — Dad is unwell and the last thing I should be doing is give him more stress by dumping my personal issues on him. Yet, the affection and the concern in his eyes spur me on. He gently runs a hand through my hair and offers no explanations and no solutions and most importantly, he refuses to judge me.

“Sweetheart, I’ll pray for you. I’m sure you’ll come out of this phase and look back at it as a bad dream. I promise,” Dad says softly. Suddenly a deep feeling of calm descends upon me. I feel emotionally uplifted, as though empowered with an internal strength to tackle head-on this thing called life — assured in the knowledge that Dad’s blessings form a sort of invisible umbrella of peace over my head. My hands feel cold and clammy with all that flushed talking. Dad takes them into his warm ones and a tear slides quietly down my cheek. I’ll always be his little girl with cold hands.


27 thoughts on “Some things never change … not even with time

  1. What a nice post. Your dad sounds like a great man. Not everyone gets the chance to have that great relationship with their parents that we’re meant to have. I’m one of the lucky ones too.

  2. Simply heart warming! You are lucky to have your Dad around in front of whom you can unburden yourself! Your post brought tears to my eyes and loving memories to my heart, my late Daddy, his way of urging, prodding and yes, sometimes even bullying to bring out the best in me and my siblings. Although now he is only one of my most cherished memories, his lessons are still pillars of strength for my life!

  3. Brought tears to my eyes. I never truly understood the unconditional and selfless love from our parents until I got married and moved far from them. May Allah (swt) bless all of our parents and grant them Janatul Firdaws. Ameen.

  4. this is soooo beautiful! made me realise a lot of things we tend to take for granted…esp. with parents coz they are always the strong ones, the ones who have answers to all my problems and in more than one occasion, I just expect them to give magical solutions to just abt anything and everything!!
    and before I realise, time will fly and a day would come when I would see the once strong man, reclining on a chair with grey hair too, subhanAllah….

  5. Assalamualaikum Sr. Mehmudah! I’m so touched by this piece, It was simply beautiful 😥
    We can never really be what our parents are. No matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to repay them for what they’ve done for us, unless Allah Wills, of course.

  6. This is very beautiful, and an excellent piece of writing in every way, and I really enjoyed reading this! It is amazing how parents no matter how old or sick they get, they still keep being mum or dad. I found this with both my mother and father right up till a few days before they died, they were asking me from their delirious sick bed, if I needed money for a taxi home, or ‘not to worry sweetheart!’ Almost being more of a parent than they would normally treat the adult me. I suppose it’s ingrained, from even before your birth, they must protest you, and they certainly always try!
    Suzy 😀

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