Father-in-law left to return to Pakistan today, leaving a gap in our home where tolerance, wisdom and fun resided. We will all miss him like crazy; he has been the patient target of our teasing for the last five months. I hail from a conservative Muslim family and my parents are reserved, respectful and very “proper”. In contrast my in-laws, who are 10 years older, are very friendly and affectionate and love to have fun.
I have learnt a number of lessons from this man, on the one hand, as a young man he was one of the most eligible bachelors of his generation in his locality. Known for his good looks, stature, education and excellent career prospects, he had the world at his feet and the arrogance and cockiness to go with it. Now 40 years later he looks at his sons and laughs when he says that one day they will be old like him and realise that the whole world doesn’t actually revolve around them after all.
On the other hand, there is nothing old about him. I love to see the beauty and goodness in life and in him I see a role model of how that carries into old age. I have learnt from him that youth is not just about age but about state of mind. It is cynicism that ages us and love and joy that keeps us young. He is still 21 in his mind and in his attitude (and often behaves accordingly when with his boys). I hope when (if Allah so wills) I am an old woman I am still able to laugh at life, to offer love to others and most of all to hope and be optimistic.