I remember the first time I met my FIL was when I visited his house to introduce myself. We chatted briefly and after a cup of tea I excused myself. That was almost thirty years ago after I finished my studies in the US. About two years later I married his daughter. He was a respectable man in the community; everyone seemed to know him well. Being the only SIL of the house at the time, I could get anything I wanted…hehehe….close being a spoilt brat!. “Pa … can I borrow the car?”,I asked him one morning after the wedding day. He had an old Fiat with that big round steering. “The key is on the wall”, he muttered without taking his eyes off the newspaper. He loved reading the newspaper and would read everything from cover to cover even the court notices in the advertisement section. And I loved that old Fiat; just rammed it over the puddles and potholes. It was so much fun I drove it for hours and hours. Alone. He never really talked down or badly to me or any of his SIL (as I realized later on) no matter how ridiculous my behavior was. One time while I was resting in the afternoon a bloody big lizard crept into the room, crawling through under the lazy chair that I was resting. AArrrggghhhhh! I screamed my heart out like a crazy man running for cover. Everybody else in the house including my FIL just startled a little bit and looked away with a smile! Hey! That lizard is still in the house……how could you guys……my heart stopped for a moment as I tried to comprehend the whole scenario. My MIL took a broom and chased it away. I looked on as that beast leisurely crawled out of the house and everyone continued as they were like nothing happened. Apparently, the incident was normal and I should not freak out as I was and instead took charge of the situation. My FIL seemed to understand my predicament and talked some sense into me. Since having a lizard in the house is considered bad luck, my FIL held special prayers and assured me of nothing would ever harm me or my family. We are okay Alhamdulillah.
My FIL was a smoker. Althoughby the time I was married, I started to quit smoking, I would sit with him andjoined him rolling the cigarettes. Later, when I completely quit the cigarettes,I just could not pull it off and tell him to stop. I just couldn’t. I mean themotivation to quit should come from within. The energy and power come from yourown willingness to sacrifice smoking for something better in the long future. Idid not know how to tell him that and every time there was a chance to explainto him I felt it was so unnecessary; maybe later. Finally, that “later” time justnever came. I feel bad sometimes about it but keep telling myself that it wasbeyond my control. Ah well…life is so indecisive!
There was a time when he seeks advice from me. He wrote to me a letter during my study in the UK. It was about some family matters and I wrote back to him with a few advice that I thought appropriate for him to act. We never discussed about it later but I hope he understood everything I said. He was that kind of a person; humble with his fatherly status and willing to listen words of advice from anybody. A few weeks later I received a nice ring from him through the mail…..my advice was clearly indispensable…
My father-in-lawpassed away over a couple of months ago and coming back to the house now seems so empty. The fact that he is gone has not yetsunk in and the emptiness is still feltaround the house. The moment I miss the most was when he greeted our cominghome and even more so when we were to leave later on. And that would be the hardest part because hewould be sad and while I explained why we should go the tears would run downhis cheeks. I remember to hold his hands firmly and whispered to him that wewill come back for him so be strong and do not forget to take the medicine. Helooked up to the open road and then turned to me and smiled silently. No wordcould describe the painful goodbye but life had dictated the way we were. Therewere many goodbyes such as that one until he finally squeezed my hand that onelast afternoon. His hand was cold and weak. For a few days, he has beenstruggling to breathe as his lung was getting weaker and weaker. I let go ofhis hand and touched his cheeks. In silence, we were saying goodbye to eachother. He passed away peacefully with all of his children and family members gathered around him. May his soul rest inpeace.