In 1961 (i think), my dad came to the UK by land and sea with a group of his friends. No passports, visa's or air tickets for this bunch. As he was a butcher by trade, he came to Glasgow and set up the first Halal butcher shop in Scotland and made alot of friends. That shop is still there to this day, now owned by someoneone else. He must have been in his late 40's and after working in that shop for 11 years, in 1972 he decided to go back to Pakistan and get married.
According to historical events and landmarks he used to tell me about, my dad was around 60 years old when I was born. I remeber a few things that happened up until I was 2 years old. I remeber the butcershop we had at that time, I remember the celler where my brother and I would play all day long whilst our parents worked long, hard days in that shop upstairs. I remeber the cold store where all the meat hung from thick heavy hooks. I remeber my mum being scared of this cold store. I remember bringing our little cat, Tina, to the shop with us occasionally, so we could play with her and I remember one day when my dad was going to buy some Tizer from the shop next door, Tina ran after him and was run down by a car and died. She used to sleep with me in my cot. I remeber my mum being pregnant and my dad being involved in an accident where a drunk driver knocked him down, drove over him and didn't look back. My big brother was with him at the time, he was 5 then and I was 1. After that accident, my dad sold the shop and never really walked again. He had to have metal rods put into his legs as his bones had so badly shattered.
My next memories are from around 4 or 5 year old and I remember a time when our mum had taken my brother, sister and me to the city centre. When we got home, my dad was sitting in his favourite place on the floor in front of the gas fire. He called me over and sat me on his knee and gave me lots of cuddles and asked if I'd enjoyed my day in town and what I'd bought. I'd bought a colourful kids watch and showed it to him. I think I have remembered this watch now because last weekend I bought my 2 year old son a mickey mouse watch and in doing so I must have dug out this memory. This is the only childhood memory I have of getting any cuddles and affection from my dad.
Although my dad had never been to school, he had somehow taught himself how to read Urdu and loved reading with a passion. He couldn't write in any languauge or read any language apart from urdu which always amazed me. His brother was a writer and poet so I think writing was in my blood. When I was around 12, I started reading and writing Urdu poetry. Upon discovering my interest in Urdu literature, my dad started sharing his books with me. Books that he had read years ago and asking me meanings of words he hadn't fully understood. We would sit and deliberate over a poem or verse and it was during these times that I was truely happy. After the poetry, I took an interest in the butchery so he taught me how to be a butcher(ess). He taught me all the bits of the animal and how best to cut each piece of meat. I enjoyed learning all this and I know he was so proud to pass this knowledge onto even his daughter as it was his family trade for many generations and my elder brother who should have taken over from him, wasn't intereseted.
These 2 years flew past and they proved to be the only 2 happy years that I was close to my dad. When I turned 13, things started to go downhill. I won't write about the next 15 depressing years here as this is only about the rare happy times with my dad.
He died 4 years ago and I'm lucky to have all his old books. I look at them sometimes when I miss him too much. They remind me of the glimpses I had of the man he could have been. You can never know what is in another person's heart or mind but one thing I know is that no matter what, he was a good guy and I loved him even when I hated him. I just wish he had lived to see my son.