Never has a post been this hard to write but this was long due.
Great man! He left us in November, 2014. Cancer took him! It was stomach cancer, one of the most painful types, or so I have heard. But the cancer went easy on his soul and after two months of his diagnosis he passed away. He did not stay at the hospital for a single day. He loved his doctor daughter but hated the hospital. Two of his sons flew from South Africa to see him and the very morning they landed in Pakistan, he left earth. He saw his family together for the last time and died peacefully.
He didn’t get formal schooling, none at all. But he took great pride in his Doctor daughter and he’d always call her with her title-Dr. Sobia. It wasn’t such a big deal then but now that he is not around us, it is everything in the world.
He started his career as bus conductor and tried different businesses before he settled for one. His father owned a vegetable shop. After his marriage, he tried a number of businesses and then set up a building material store. The store sells cement, sand and bricks in Samnabad.
As children, we used to spend our time around him, at his building material store. Rawail and I would make sand caves around our feet in the sand, the sand that he used to sell. My uncle runs the shop now and it is not much fun anymore. Mainly because we have grown up and can’t really make sand caves around our feet, of course.
He was fond of movies. He used to tell us about his adventures from one cinema to another. He even went to some city in the Indian Punjab to watch an indian movie. Movies were his thing. He even took that as a profession at one time and imported a few movies to Pakistan for our cinemas. I spot him watching “Pakeeza” on television a number of times and he would explain the movie with such vigor. I never understood the movie but it felt like his favorite.
Television was like his mistress. In the last few years he watched television all day from religious channels to cricket, and from cricket to wrestling. Faiz and him had so much to discuss about wrestling and even though he didn’t know all the WWE wrestlers by names he would make up names for them, like “moray wala” and “ganjay wala.” Sanjay wala was Batista perhaps but only Faiz can tell best.
He was a darling and a complete foodie! The best Lahori that I have ever known. Chicken would simply offend him and he would treat chicken as a vegetable. True meat was buffalo meat for him. Period. He didn’t like the fact that Irteza and I had chosen chicken as the main dish for our wedding. He tried to talk my mother into real meat for the wedding but only she could convince him otherwise and she did.
Nana abu and I would bond over grape fruits. He loved fruits and more than that he loved force-feeding us those fruits. He would go to the kitchen, slice the grape fruit in half, put sugar on both halves and bring one half for me and the other for himself. He didn’t understand my disliking for mangoes and made me try them every time.
From time to time he would send his employees to my mother to help them with all their medical issues. There was somebody he sent for an eye surgery, another for his leg operation I think. And as for him, he despised medical care. He did not stay at the hospital for a single day, he just couldn’t. He hated it.
At his funeral, I met random people from around the town who wept because they had lost a father. He helped a widow near his mosque, he helped her with food and with childrens’ marriages. She told me he was an amazing help and she couldn’t have come so far without him. Everybody in the town new him as Mian Heera. His name was Mian Abdul Majeed but the nick name Heera is still very popular. And if there is anything I remember distinctly from his funeral I remember what my Grandmother said to the room full of sobbing men and women. She told them that they had all lost Mian Heera. Mian Heera had helped them all at one point or the other. From the fish-monger to the house-cart walay people, all of them lost Mian Heera.
This man lived by one and only one philosophy! To Give! And when he didn’t have much he still had so much to give! He had uncountable prayers for us! All I heard from him were prayers and blessings. Nothing more! He was shelter, he was home! Life is scary without him.
I am Mian Heera’s Legacy! And I have to live up to his name!