Tears of my grandfather

by Mir Ibrahim Rahman
  • 25 Jan - 31 Jan, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
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I could tell you many things about my grandfather.

I could tell you how as a teenage orphan he had to parent five of his younger siblings.

I could tell you how he single-handedly started his newspaper, that he used to distribute himself in Delhi, before partition and how it grew it to be the largest media company of Pakistan.

I could tell you about how he supported over a 100 poor families and how humble he was that we only found out about it after he died.

But today I want to share with you something else about him...

My grandfather was not an emotional man but I want to share with you some of his tears I remember.

I was the first grandchild, so my grandparents almost “kidnapped” me and I lived more with them than my parents. I remember one time my sister who was five at the time complained to my grandfather that she thought that he liked boys more than girls because he didn’t kiss her as much as he kissed me. My grandfather grabbed her and kissed her for an hour nonstop, crying like a baby the 70 year old kept on apologising to the seven year old.

Everywhere he went my grandfather was surrounded by people who wanted to know more from him. I remember when I would go with him to weddings he would hold my little finger while we were surrounded by people who wanted to know the latest political situation and the news.

My grandfather prayed the stipulated five times a day, and even when we were in public, when the time came, he would go off to a corner and pray. I would follow him because I was afraid to be alone outside my home. My grandfather prayed as if there was only him and God and no one else. He would hold his hands out pleading God looking like an innocent baby, he would just be so thankful for his life that he often cry smiling, thanking God. I used to worry about his stature and status and not wanting him so exposed, so vulnerable I would try to get in the way so their views were blocked. My grandfather just didn’t have anything to hide and wasn’t afraid of vulnerability.

My grandfather and his generation helped build Pakistan brick by brick. I remember he once told me that he doesn’t want to have the highest market share for the sake of market share alone, but does want to make sure that he pays more taxes than his competitors.

Once he was on national television and there was a program about Bangladesh, which used to be part of Pakistan back then. He was going through the learnings of how our country was divided and what were the mistakes we had made and he just started crying. A mature man, one of the most respected and senior, on national television live. He was so revered that the anchor and guests didn’t know quite how to react and interrupt. I remember I was watching the program on TV and must have been seven and even though I didn’t even know what Bangladesh was, I started crying myself. I couldn’t see him in pain and just didn’t want him to cry alone.

When he was taken away from us I remember tens of thousands of people at his funeral. I was 13 or 14 at the time, it was raining and I remember feeling a little envious. I met so many people who felt the same way about him as I did, people felt like he was theirs. His workers, his family members and friends and even people who had just known about his success story. They all felt like they had lost their best friend and mentor. That was the way he was, he made everyone feel special.

I remember meeting one of his friends at the funeral who asked me “Do you know what is the definition of a big man, my son?” He explained that a real big man is not measured by how high he has come in society or how much money or respect and stature he has earned. “A big man is measured not from his height but instead from the grade of his bow, his fall for the little man. There maybe some who have earned more than your grandfather or even received more recognition, but I don’t know any who has bowed down as much as him to humbly serve those that were not as big. Your grandfather was the biggest man I knew.”

My grandfather was not an emotional man but I wanted to share with you some of the tears I remember.