He was a prisoner of war for the 1971 conflict between Pakistan and India. The diary he penned down during his four years in confinement became the basis for the five books he authored, none of which has been published for, as he believed, ‘my words can’t be bought’.
He always did the unconventional. He was a graduate of the first ‘Muslim’ batch of the Government College Lahore, assumed the charge of Director for Family Planning Association of Pakistan in mid-1980’s for a decade (something he did not accept a remuneration for), and acted as the Director of PSRD.
Dr. Abdul Qadeer, my grandfather (Dada as I call him) always did what was right.
As a grandfather, he never let his ego (a very strong personality trait of him) become a barrier in our ‘special’ relationship. I still distinctly remember sitting with him in our garden when he pointed at the gate and asked me, “What is outside?”
Not having any answer, with a tinge of confusion, I replied, “I don’t know. I cannot see beyond the gate.” In quest of a better answer, he asked me the same question twice, again. And I replied the same, again.
What he said next, is something that has stayed with me since. Making sure he had all my attention, with the inherent depth of his voice, he said,
“Never limit your vision. The possibilities are endless!”
That image has and will always remain in my mind.
Dada never treated me like an average child. His conversations were always constructed and left me with a message each time.
When I was a teenager, probably sixteen or seventeen years old, he said, “Success comes eventually. One should not be unfair for material benefits for it weakens the character.”
The path that led me to self-discovery, something that has literally transformed my life, was directed by him. Dada made me realize who I was.
My fondest memory with him goes back to 1992 when we watched the Cricket World Cup together. I remember feeling very special sitting in his lobby, watching the sport that speaks of our nation’s patriotism and discussing the legacy of Jinnah - the man who inspired him as a teenager pre-independence.
Dada was a man of super-normal qualities. He was the epitome of perfection in my world. He preached me to think big. Each time I am at a cross road, unable to filter if I am headed right, I close my eyes and think of him. I imagine Dada and ask myself had he been in this situation, is this what he would have done. The answer is usually in affirmation. One particular trait of him that I really aspire to develop is ‘attention to detail’. May I adopt all his qualities.
When others tried to shake my belief system – my dada – who was laid to rest on April 17th 2003, a night before he passed away, he made confessions that elevated his stature in my eyes to a whole new level.
Dada never left me, as he had promised. I feel his presence every single day of my life by living it with the rules he taught me. I connect with him whenever I want to by recalling the beautiful moments we have spent together.
He was a man whose addiction was Pakistan. My Dada, the man of his own complexities, lives on and shall live on, in me.