Tag Archives: family

Remembering my father.

I’m lying in bed aching from the week of hedonistic socialising that I had to be greeted this morning by a sobering thought:

It’s been 11 years since I lost my father.

For me, this issue of time really puts things into perspective. For me, losing my father was truly a life changing experience. I know that it has affected me in ways I can’t even conceptualise. In all honesty, I don’t really think I have a reason to write this post. Other than I always talk about how great my father was, and is in my mind, one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

No one can deny the fact that he doted on me, perhaps creating this high expectation of affection I’m working on, ha. Of course, I only knew one side of him. That side was blurred by childhood enthusiasm and short attention spans. I was just happy to have a sweet man play with me as my mother cooked and my brothers were living their lives.

I cannot say for a second that he was the most moral person I have ever encountered. That would be a lie, what can nine years of uncertain memories and fantasies really say about a person? I’m not an idiot- every one that I will ever meet will have a life before and after me, regardless of consciousness or death. For now, all I can hold onto is the happiness and love that I feel so blessed to have received at such a delicate age.

After his passing my life was difficult, but that’s not the point of this. The point is that I had such a fantastic time that I am so lucky to have had. My father never spoke about marriages, or career aspirations, or even the issue of me playing in the mud and wearing jeans all the time. I was taken to art galleries and the London eye. Even as he was dying with cancer he played the simple game of “catch” with me in the garden as the sun set over our small home in North London.

I clambered onto his lap and said to him “dad, even though you haven’t got much hair left I still can’t count every single one of them!” He probably couldn’t hear me as the only thing he was doing was breathing at that point. I let him win at Connect Four and let him watch James Bond and Star Trek (even thought I couldn’t stand them). His dying days made me the most empathetic and intuitive I have ever been in my life. It makes me sad that I couldn’t articulate my love for him as a child. Sad, I feel, is the right word. If I was a child I would’ve hardly said “mournful” would I? I can’t say I believe in an afterlife, and that this is just my sentimentality speaking, but I can confidently say I will sugar coat every memory of him until my own deteriorates. He left me a story that I can weave and feel warmth whenever I relay it to my own loved ones.

The bitterness that I felt after his death subdued when I started university. I couldn’t help but feel his departure was to blame for financial troubles, homelessness, abuse, broken relationships, and mental health issues. Now that I have matured ever so slightly I am able to understand my family. I can understand the anger, the fighting, and the desperation. My family are not broken- I can see that they are stronger than ever. If they can’t see it for themselves then I will show them.

There are young children in my family now who have me as their Aunt. I’m disappointed that they’ll never meet my father and have the same sort of affection that I received from him. I was the youngest child by a mile therefore he had time to spend on me in his old age. Looking at my nephews and niece, I promised myself (and them) that I’d look after them and be there for them when they feel alone. I guess that’s the reason I feel so protective over them. That’s probably the reason I feel so protective over my mother now, too. However, years of tension have rendered me a bit emotionally stunted when it comes to the older generation of my family for which I am very regretful. It’s another thing which I am more than happy to work on. I am working on it and I’m seeing results.

I feel guilt for living something of a “double life” but I know my own father was not without his own adventures. I know how much I am like him- my family are always reminding me.

Truly, dates shouldn’t mean anything to me. Blog posts shouldn’t mean anything to me. It’s like I’m putting forth my fragility yet filtering it through what is and isn’t acceptable to say to the public. But I’m lying in bed recovering from a heavy week, looking at the disposable camera on my window sill and thinking “I should get the pictures developed today.”

Dad always converted the bathroom in North London into a dark room. I’d sit and watch him delicately dip plastic sheets of paper into the water. They’d turn into photographs later. He loved taking pictures of his family and friends. In his old age, I reckon he knew that nothing is permanent and he was trying to hold onto everything as much as he could.

dadandi

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I’ve rediscovered my childhood.

I have a weight on my shoulders, it comes with age, I think (I’m not even twenty, ugh.) Everywhere I look there’s a flaw, within myself, within the way we interact with each other and I know it’s a cruddy outlook to have on life in general. So, one day, a fortnight ago, I was looking for a remote control and was advised to check out a neglected cupboard in an empty room. I did, and I spent the next four hours engrossed in old photo albums.

What is common knowledge yet still somehow forgotten in our family is that my father was a photography enthusiast, he would never be without his camera thus, thankfully, I have many memories from my childhood. Seriously, like, really cool retro photos which hipsters would drool at the prospect of having legitimate cool baby photos like this:

Image

Check out the shades, brah!

Image

I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but it seems like I am an infant, therefore unable to drive.

Image

This isn’t cool, dad, you’re letting me run amok with some poor OAP’s walking stick. .__.

And my life without him in South London, I can’t tell you. There’s no one here to take photos but the joyful moments seem to have evaporated, only to be contained in these special photographs. This blog is basically just me sharing these special moments with you, and I’m typing this with a small smile on my face because for the first time in quite a while I feel at one with myself. I have the standard childhood photos and then some, I had a father who loved me more than I can possibly imagine. Looking at my family now, it almost pains me to see that we were so content and wholesome at one point.

Don't mess with our styyyyyyyyyyyyle.

Don’t mess with our styyyyyyyyyyyyle.

This is how much my father took his hobby seriously.

prolific man.

prolific man.

And these are only the photos and some videos and cassettes. He’s made more. I never really questioned why my father was such a fanatic, the only thing I could tell my friends is “oh, he never really left the camera, and I was a right little daddies girl!” blushing with pride, I’d listen to the stories distant family members would tell me as I heard how much my father loved me, how fair my skin was, how I was the apple of his eye. Being the youngest child and only girl, with three older brothers at least twelve years older than me, I had that one thing over them (and that’s nothing to complain about.)

Retro

Retro

How suave!

How suave!

I found pictures of my parents wedding! Look at how damn cool they are.

wedding1 wedding2

My dad moved here when he was fairly young and started a job as a black cab driver, when he eventually started driving for the BBC. So he’d come home and tell wicked stories about how he was driving the flamboyant John Ingham and even David Jason. He was pretty inspirational, always had a joke or an interesting anecdote to tell.

cab

Yeah let’s just reinforce stereotypes…

It’s hard to believe such a jaunty bloke was living in India/Pakistan not too long ago. So when I was very young I visited with him, back to his old house, and to wander around Lahore. I don’t remember much, apart from the blurred visions of chickens running wild… it’s tough living, there. Lavish meals were made with barely any equipment and yet it was so fun, running wild, the earthy roads and um, liberation. 

Ch'yeah liberation!

Ch’yeah liberation!

pakistan1

The kitchen.

The kitchen.

Pakistan - India

Pakistan – India

A fortnight ago, as I was scouring each and every single folder of photographs (I had no energy to crack open cassettes and tapes) I stumbled upon something incredibly personal and sentimental. After I was done with this particular folder I didn’t know how to handle this beautiful discovery. Now I know I can just blog about it. 😉

entry1 entry2

My father created a folder for me. Painstakingly captioned it, I remember he converted the bathroom into a dark room to develop these photographs a few days a week, I sat on the toilet precariously as he explained to a perplexed six year old how he did everything, peering through an empty lens at me as I giggled and shrieked. I don’t really know how it feels to have someone so devoted to you, I reject those who try, but I swell with admiration whenever I think about him. My dashing, funny, incredible dad. I guess I don’t want his hard work to be forgotten when his children die, as well, so it’s best left in an online diary, never really deleted from anything until the world ends.

Colonisation is a fact, and it was pretty horrible, but just knowing that it affected my father in such a way really hits close to home. His life changed because of it and it shook his foundation for the rest of his time here; it made him want to keep a record for every aspect of his life as long as he could. I even found this.

diary ]

He actually documented as many of my movements as he could’ve done for my first year alive. Here are a few of my favourite quotes…

“Shirin poked her brothers eye and it bled because he wasn’t responding to her tugging on his shirt.” 

“Shirin said “shut up” for the first time.”

“Shirin tried to climb up the stairs but always falls back on the second step.

I was adorable, shut up.

I don’t mean to waffle on sentimentally. It’s funny, when I think about how laid back life was back then and how stern and cruddy it is now it makes me think of the Islamic revolution that took place in Iran. Only, the revolution was a move to a different area of suburban London and it was just closer to a mosque… Let me be as dramatic as I want, dammit!

I had a pretty sweet childhood with awesome people around me, and that’s more than I could ever ask for.

Why....

Why….

Me, looking pleased as ever.

Me, looking pleased as ever.

Adorable villain in cheesy cop movie's got her hands up!

Adorable villain in cheesy cop movie’s got her hands up!

I don't get the obsession with putting me in things..

I don’t get the obsession with putting me in things..

kid5

Goodnight!

Goodnight!

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