This post was written by Warrior, Munnawar Hashim. He is a teacher in Surat and is from London, England. This is his 'Family Matters' story!
Hassan’s nose and forehead were planted on the ground. He waited patiently for the signal. “Allahuakbar!” He raised his head in unison with a thousand other men and the mosque was filled with low muttering. Hassan knew the motions but had long since forgotten the accompanying words. To him the Friday prayer he attended with his father and brother was a ritual that held very little religious significance for him.
Once the prayer was over; the masses congregated at the entrance, grabbing a variety of footwear from the shelves. Shoes, sandals, trainers and loafers originating from all the markets of London were flung indiscriminately in various directions. Hassan knew to wait; he was in no particular rush to join the mob. Like those who are eager to leave an aircraft after landing; the mob began to get restless.
“Hassan stand up! I want you to meet Uncle Jamil!” Hassan’s father bellowed across the hall. The 25-year-old closed his eyes and started moving his lips silently in the hopes that this would deter his father.
“Oh he’s just praying for our family, we can wait.” Realising the futility of his actions the boy continued to mutter for another 30 seconds before raising his palms to his face, indicating the end of his conversation with God. Upon witnessing this, the two men approached, one Hassan knew, he was the man who had raised him. The one who was unfamiliar to Hassan stuck out his hand.
“Asalamulaikum Hassan, Abdul has told me much about you. My name is Jamil.” Hassan’s father smiled at the mention of his name. Hassan firmly took his hand and replied.
“Wa-alaikum Salaam Uncle it is a pleasure to meet you. I’m sure his words were most kind, most parents speak of their children in similar ways I’m sure.”
Jamil seemed pleasantly surprised and a slow approving smile spread across his face. Hassan had met an astonishing amount of “aunties and uncles” over the years. As a child he assumed that his father came from a large and formidable clan with brothers and sisters that spanned the globe. It was only until after he was introduced to an “uncle” who his father had met earlier on that same day that the illusion was shattered. Despite this, Hassan was aware that this was not the typical “uncle” he would be introduced to on a Friday.
“I am part of an older generation that refused to learn the language of my new home, so it is refreshing to speak Urdu to a man so young. Tell me Hassan, can you also speak the language of your mother and father?”
“When I am not speaking English, Sindhi is actually the language I feel most comfortable speaking.” The transition to Sindhi was seamless and the smile on Jamil’s face grew wider. Seemingly satisfied he motioned towards the door, put on his jacket and smiled apologetically.
“I must return home. It was a pleasure meeting you Hassan, we shall meet again soon. Abdul it was good seeing you again, we shall speak again tonight.” He shivered slightly and laughed.
“This weather is not suited for a man born in Karachi, be careful. Inshallah I hope your drive home is safe.”
Hassan and Abdul found their shoes and left the warmth of the mosque. It had started to snow again and Hassan cursed inwardly. Abdul placed his arm around his son’s shoulder.
“Thank you son. You know, despite our differences, I’m proud of you. The apple is falling near the tree.” Hassan grinned at his father’s attempt at English and continued to trudge through the snow. It was not often his father praised him, and he savoured every second.
Despite being raised in London, the cold seemed to affect Hassan more than his friends. He raised his hands to his mouth and blew into them. The small cloud that escaped his lips provided little warmth or comfort to the young man, he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and lamented the journey home.
“Papa, do you reckon I could ride home with you?” He attempted what he thought was a hopeful look. His father’s usual smile faded from his face. He looked sternly into his son’s eyes.
“No, the punishment I have dealt is something that you must see through to the end. What kind of man would I be if I did not stick to my word?” His brow lightened up and his jaunty grin returned to his face.
“You’ll find your own way home, I do these things because I love you.” Abdul turned and walked slowly towards the carpark. Hassan sighed, creating a wall of mist between him and his retreating father. He gradually made his way home slightly annoyed at his father but mostly annoyed at himself. A few months earlier Hassan had crashed his car whilst under the influence. Although his father was unaware of Hassan’s consumption of alcohol, it was much harder to disguise the fact that he no longer had a vehicle. As Hassan trudged through the snow the respect he had for his father grew. Despite his overbearing stubbornness, Abdul was a fair and just man. If a punishment was ever dealt, his children knew that it was well deserved. Hassan shivered once more and resolved to purchase a car again before the end of the year.
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