Uncle Bhai Jaan

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.


Jacob Patrick said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss, Baji. I've heard some funny stories about this feller, and it sounds like he had a good run.

You guys are in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajeeon - very sorry to hear about that. If there's anything you need let us know.

yasmine said...

oh, Baji, i'm so so sorry for your loss. =/ inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon.

you write so beautifully about your family, and your posts (whether here on the veblog or on flickr) are an amazing testament to your family's humor and grace and strength and creativity. they are so lucky to have you remembering and documenting.

this was my favorite sentence about your nanaji:
'He...loved his gigantic family with all of his heart.'

but then i got to this one:
'upon being hurried out of a car, he exclaimed, "I AM NOT AN ACROBAT!" '

makes me want to both laugh and cry, and i didn't even have the honor of knowing him, except through your footoos and stories. i hope the footoos and stories are comforting you all during this time, too. may your nanaji be at peace and surrounded by light, and may he have all that is good and beautiful and blessed, and entrance into jannat-al-firdaus. ameen to this, and to all the duas for him.

Gojira said...

I had the honor of witnessing the acrobat line being spoken, and let me tell you, the delivery was perfect.

So sorry for your loss, Baji. Kisses to you all.

wayfarer said...

sorry for your loss. he sounds like heck of a guy.

baji said...

thanks so much for your words and du'as and condolences. the grief comes and goes in waves (of course, having two kids underfoot requiring tissues or timeouts or yanking apart before someone's head is crushed helps me not to wallow). you guys rock and i won't forget your compassion.

karrvakarela said...

inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon.

may Allah make this difficult time easy for you and your loved ones, baji.

Anonymous said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon - may God bless his soul and grant you & your family peace with his passing, and great joy at the time you were given together.

Anonymous said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon - may God bless his soul and grant you & your family peace with his passing, and great joy at the time you were given together.

baji said...

thank you for your kind words.