Happy Fathers Day: A Tribute To My Pluralist Father, M. Abdul Rahman

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Life is all about expressions and completing transactions. Every emotional thought action or change creates a new debt that needs to be re-balanced. Obviously, we cannot reciprocate our parents’ favors in full, but we have been able to do that with a thank you in the most simplistic way.

One of the incomplete transactions of my life was not being able to do the things I wanted to do for my father. As a kid, I would step in and take over the work from him so he could take a rest, an Indian tradition that I cherish. When I moved to Saudi Arabia on an assignment, I sent my first check to him with which he started paying off my loans. With the next check, I asked him to buy clothes for the family and wanted him to replace the old black Jacket he wore forever with a new one. He said, first things first. In the first week of December 1977 my check paid off all my loans, and with the next check, I asked him to oblige me.

He did not get the check, Man, I am feeling a deluge of emotions as I am writing this, darn, my eyes are welled up. My father lived up to his words, “Until my last breath, I will be earning my living and take care of my family.” Darn it, he did it. I was angry for my helplessness and was happy that the man kept his word. But that created a huge gap in my life and I continue to recover my balance by serving the senior friends in whatever little way I can. You can always count on me to drop everything off to attend to a senior’s request. It was a pleasure serving Maini Saheb.

Talking about keeping one’s word; in the late sixties, he decided to go back and till his father’s land abandoned some forty years ago, when much of our family was wiped out in the influenza of 1918. He sold a thriving property we had and sunk the money in the farm and I was on it for six months. He gave his word to someone that he will sell the property and told us about it in the evening. Three of his friends descended at our house with three times the money, my father refused and said I have given my word to that man. My mother and I were angry; he said he would rather lose the money than his word. I did not like it then, but when I left home, it all meant so much to me and yes, I have lost quite a lot for keeping my word, then I realized that no one will take the wealth with them either.

My father is my hero and opened the doors of wisdom to me and my siblings. Pluralism indeed runs in my family. He taught one of the biggest lessons of my life in social cohesiveness and dealing with extremism that I continue to reflect on in my talks, workshops, acts, and write-ups.

During the communal riots in Jabalpur (India) in the early sixties, both Muslims and Hindus were killed in the mayhem. I wish every father in India, America, and elsewhere teaches this lesson to his kids. He told us the “individuals” are responsible for the bloodshed and not the religions; he would emphasize that you cannot blame the intangible religion and expect justice. He continued, we must blame the individuals who caused it and punish them accordingly for disturbing the peace and thus bring a resolution to the conflict by serving justice. You cannot annihilate, kill, hang or beat the religion, then why bark at it? Bark at the wrongdoer individual.

My father was a Mayor of the Town of Yelahanka (The town gave birth to Bangalore in 1537) and served the council for many years. He was also the president of the Islamic Association of the town. We grew up with no barriers between us and another soul, my father’s friends included everyone from every caste and religion. We considered all the festivals as our own. Watched Ramayana played out in front of my home for nearly 25 years.

He also broke the prevailing traditions of the society; during the early sixties India was pretty much like the U.S. in the way people treated the “Harijans” — God’s chosen people as Mahatma Gandhi termed them “untouchables”. The African Americans endured such treatment here. My father would invite them into our home and my mother would serve tea and food in the same glasses and plates that we drank and ate. It was a big no-no at that time, some boycotted coming to our house and many people opposed him with unsavory words, but my father stood his ground. I see that streak in me playing it out all the time. Thank you Dad for inculcating the value of treating every human with full dignity, that is just one of the thousands of things you blessed me with. I love to see all of God’s creation treated fairly and justly. I am glad to be free from prejudice towards everyone.

He treated all of us kids with dignity and I am pleased I got to be disciplined at least once. I guess I replicated that with my children to the point my kids would actually say, Dad, you should have disciplined us. I did not see the need for it. I am fine and they are fine too. However, I gave them the cold shoulder that my father had given me to straighten me out, and it worked both ways, although my daughter was a tough cookie, she would not budge.

I was about ten years old and watched a man fall off his bicycle with a big bag of rice and was struggling to get back on it, and I wasn’t going to help the man. I saw my father about 100 feet away and the way he sped towards me got me frightened for the first time, I dashed inside the home and a few minutes later after helping the guy, my Dad walked in looking for me. I climbed on top of the paddy bags in a corner of the house, I thought he could not get me there, so he goes outside and plucks a long branch off the mulberry tree and gives me a few good ones. “My son will never do that” after that conditioning, I have developed the habit of stopping for everyone who needs help. I dare not watch and not do something about it.

On this day, I thank Dadsky Everett Blauvelt who was the reason for me to be here in Dallas, he and I worked together in Saudi Arabia some 35 years ago. I also want to express my gratitude to my friend Davendra Dev Maini who is a fatherly figure to me as well and my two senior friends whom I admire; Dr. Harbans Lal and Rev. Bill Matthews, all of them have great attitudes and affection for humanity and I love them.

To those who have not had a father or had a negative experience, God has offered guidance through the instrument of forgiveness to release you from the pain. Just do it. I will be happy to be a big brother or even a father for the moment of your need. It’s an open offer to call me at (214) 325-1916.

This article was first published on 06/17/2011 06:02 pm at – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pluralist-father_b_879528

God bless us all, Amen!

The tribute to my mother is here.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker, writer and a frequent guest on Hannity show and nationally syndicated Radio shows and Dallas TV, Radio and Print Media. Over 1000 articles have been published on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, India and cohesive societies. Two of his books are poised to be released this fall on Pluralism and Islam. His work is encapsulated in 27 blogs, four websites and several forums indexed at mikeghousedotnet.

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