Survivors have all the prerequisites to be rebels. Abbajee, my father in law, who passed away yesterday in Karachi – while I am in Accra for work – was testimony to this. His childhood (and here’s a story by Mun on her dad’s youthful grittiness) was as tough as his uncompromising yearning for reason in the face of a world as uncompromising on its insistence on unreason to get by.
His was a scientific, tinkering, inventive mind. Playfulness doesn’t sit well with conformity, so he had no choice but to question relentlessly. When we met, he sensed a kindred questioner, and he never stopped sounding me out (not everything that we exchanged concurred, but that is dialogue).
(I was a bit scared of lending books to him: nothing but the content mattered, so much so that by the time he got through some of them, they could no longer lay claim to their bookly sheen.)
Last year when my dad passed away, I quoted my dad’s favorite lines from Saadi, which speak of the humility of the raindrop upon meeting the expanse of the ocean. And it is relevant again now.
Faith and reason have had a contentious history, but there is a meeting point as elusive as it is beckoning which compels the questioning to seek, always. Abbajee sought, always.
I do not know its name, so I call it Tao
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching
Abbajee with my mum-in-law, daughters and sons-in-law at his 50th wedding anniversary 3 some years ago.
December 23, 1935 – June 26, 2017