Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi rajioon. My Grandfather died today. "Nanaji". "Uncle Bhai Jaan". "Bhatti". The last few months had been physically difficult for him, especially after the latest stroke and coma. He awoke to find my parents there and had a nice few weeks with them, but his ability to communicate was greatly hampered. He passed away in his sleep.
He was the bearer of puns, anecdotes, and trivia. As an award-winning journalist, he was the master wordsmith of the family. With his steel-trap mind and his shelves of photo albums, he was the holder of the oral and pictorial family history. He always had a love of the good stuff: fatty foods, chocolaty treats, sneaky salty snacks. He could recite poetry that he learned as a child, drop names and dates of events that occurred decades before, and relate a joke about nearly any topic at hand. He had traveled around the world, lived in many countries, and documented his hilarious observations for the enjoyment of others.
He was deeply religious and loved his gigantic family with all of his heart. Like his father before him, he held a good education as the most important thing to give to his children. He wrote copious letters to family members (first, on onionskin thin airmail with carbon paper between the sheets to make multiple copies; later, on e-mail), he drafted volumes of newspaper articles, he edited books. During a school break one year, my teacher had given me the homework I would have missed while visiting Pakistan and he sat down with me to make sure I did it - even demanding that I clean up my chicken-scratch handwriting at the time. He loved to tinker, to invent, to improvise (hard to find the light switch in the dark? Get some glow-in-the-dark paint to outline the switch!). A chronic bibliophile, he passed his love of words to me. He came to my wedding and LB's wedding. As he got older, his strength began to fade (upon being hurried out of a car, he exclaimed, "I AM NOT AN ACROBAT!"), but his wit and humor never did. I'm so thankful that the last time I saw him, he was showering ZP with love. He was not just my Nanaji. Just like I am everyone's Baji, whether related or not, he was everyone's Bhai Jaan or, to their children, Uncle Bhai Jaan. He loved and was loved in return. May Allah (swt) bless his soul, show him mercy and love, and reward him for his good deeds. Ameen.