My father’s Pakhol; a daughter’s memories of Mir Subhanuddin

My father’s Pakhol; a daughter’s memories of Mir Subhanuddin

By Bibi Ali

This piece of writing is not an eulogy, a biography or an account of my father’s achievements; instead, it’s a page from the diary of a bereaved daughter who is still trying to come to terms with the loss of her father.
My early memories of my dear father as a little girl are sitting on his lap and feeling the stubble on his face with my tiny fingers. I was always fascinated by his rough skin and the sweet smells of his aftershave mixed with cigarette smoke. He wouldn’t talk much but would listen to our childish ramblings with great interest. He was very proud of the fact that I was able to read at a very early age and showered me with all kinds of books and magazines.

I remember him as a very deep and complex human being with various layers. He was a strict disciplinarian with his sons but with us daughters, he was always a tolerant angel. He adored us, encouraged us and showered us with praises for the talents that we didn’t even possess. However, he always expected us to have follow a code of conduct based on modesty and sobriety in every aspect of our lives.

He had a deep disdain for gaudy colors, silly remarks, petty jokes or even loud voices.
My father was an old school parent who believed in keeping his children at an arm’s length, especially in his personal matters. Being a perfectionist in every aspect of his life, he did not allow us to make silly mistakes. Any word mispronounced or any out of blue remark would not be reprimanded, but get a glare from him, which would shake us to the core. As a result, we could not be spontaneous around him and uttered every word with caution. This style of parenting proved to be a double edged sword since it taught us the importance of familial hierarchy and the mannerism around elders, but it also deprived us from the kind of closeness we should have had with our father.

My father was a closed book when it came to his personal life and never shared any accounts of achievements or ordeals in his life with us. All we learned about his early life was in the form of anecdotes from his friends and some vague memories from our childhood. He taught us to avoid self-projection but instilled a seed of self-worth which helped us get through our personal challenges with hope and optimism. He taught us to stay dignified during adversity and stay humble during prosperity. He encouraged us all to be avid readers, to have informed opinion about the world affairs, and to have higher order thinking skills.
I remember a long time ago, my father returned from work related trip, looking a bit dazed and pale. He had travelled from Rawalpindi to Gilgit through a van. When my mom inquired, he informed us that the van that he was travelling in had met with an accident. It had skidded off the road, into a cliff beside the river.

While the van was slowly descending towards the river all the male passengers had jumped off the van to save their lives. Only one woman left with her two young children, frantically calling for help.

My father had stayed behind and helped the woman get off the van first. Then he had grabbed the kids one by one and tossed them at their mom who was able to catch them. After saving those three lives my father was the last one to jump off the van, seconds before the van had submerged in the roaring waters of the river. He told this story very nonchalantly and did not even hint at the fact that he had put his life in grave danger to save the lives of three complete strangers. As I child I didn’t think much of this incident but now when I look back it gives me a glimpse of his immense courage on the face of adversity.

Mi Subhanuddin had an immense love for his birthplace Chitral and never agreed to travel or settle anywhere else. His final conversation with me a few days before his passing away was about how rapidly Chitral was developing and how glorious Chitral’s future was.

The love and respect the wonderful people of Chitral have shown to my father has left us eternally grateful for their kindness and generosity of spirit.

After burying my father in his final resting place, I have returned to the loneliness of the foreign land with the most precious inheritance that a daughter canget from a father, his old books with his beautiful signatures and his Pakhol. One day, I intend to bequeath father’s Pakhol to my son, when he proves himself to be half the man that my father was.
Rest in peace my dear father. Next time we meet, it will be for eternity.

8 Replies to “My father’s Pakhol; a daughter’s memories of Mir Subhanuddin”

  1. Respected brother Tariqulla Khan, brother Minhas Uddin, brother Irfan, brother Saif. I really appreciate your kind words about my father. God bless you all.

  2. Bibi Kai thank you for sharing your great father’s memories with us. When I was a child, I found a notebook in my home with immaculate handwriting, it was so beautiful that I couldn’t believe one can write so nicely with his hands. It was something about law. I didn’t know how it came there but it is still in our possession.The name written on it was Mir Subhanuddin.
    Later while growing up I heard the same name again and again with respect to Refugees etc. but never had the opportunity to meet him. When I graduated, I went back to Chitral and started working for an NGO working in tourism sector. I used to lead the team which gave me an opportunity to meet with elders and youth-everyone. In one of those sittings, Mir sahab’s name came under discussion and that was a moment of enlightenment for me as someone told me that Mir sahab was so intelligent and competent in his studies that one of his peers once said this about him and I quote, ” Sabaq ispa khyo retam sabaq Mir Subhanuddin retai kya, ispa sabaq rasusi hase hunar kori asur”. That was the moment when I said to myself I must meet him. To my good luck, one day I was sitting in my office at the Mountain Inn and a gentleman with a flat hat on his head entered my office, I knew that it was him. He didn’t speak to me in Khowar and never did ever after that. He was eloquent in English that I got impressed. That day on, he would come every now and then, sit and chat with me about his projects, his experience, sometimes would talk about my father as well. He was indeed one of the best Chitral has ever produced. Time passes away, memories stay. Sad to hear about his departure from this realm to the other. May his soul rest in peace and may God give the bereaved family courage to bear the great loss and also to keep him alive in their memories.

  3. Late mr Subhan sir would occassionally meet us in our office,usually we would discusse urdu poetry and fictions.He had good sense of humurs, i often advised him to qiut smoking but he would smile and change the topic.
    May God bless him.

  4. One day he came to my office in morning with smiling face and told me to issue directions to fix the unusual vibration of Goldur pedestrian bridge as we feel inconvenience in crossing it. Then he left after having tea and told to come to get update. I visit that along concernd they made plan to fix the issue and on same day as per his promise he came and I told him all. A smile on his face signaled his satisfaction. My ten days of friendship with him,is indeed an asset for me.May Allah pak bless the departed soul.

  5. It is pleasant surprise for me and for many friends of Mir sahab. Stay blessed and help us in compiling the biography of a legend from Chitral.

    1. Much appreciated, Dr. Sahib. Actually it was your article which inspired me to shed some light on the less known aspects of his life.

  6. Rest in peace my dear baba ji. Never thought that one day we’ll be remembering you in words because you’ve always been so close to me. Me and baba ji used to have long conversations lasting the whole night,i would sleep next to his bed and he would wake me up the next day to accompany him for the cricket match. Rest in peace baba ji.

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