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Role Models
Saadia Malik


Some moments back, I had a beautiful realization, inspired by the intensity of emotions that rushed through the veins.

My grandfather passed away nine years ago, may God bless him. He was a noble man and a great blessing from God, at least for his own family. Same goes for his circle of friends, which I have always viewed as special; the kind of circle that one can only learn and benefit from. One of his very intimate friends, living in a village far away for quite sometime, came to our city and managed to locate our home address. He was anxious to meet my father. Dad...well, he was thrilled at the thought of receiving his own father’s friend. He was excited and I could feel his excitation while he attempted to make the best possible arrangements for the person who was to visit. They came and the men withdrew into the drawing room and the women in the lounge. I felt a bit sad because I seemed to have absorbed much of the excitement that my father was experiencing at that time, but being a girl, I had to retire into the ‘ladies’ chamber’. That is how the culture is in our homes.

Anyway, I had heard a lot about this righteous individual - one of the men whom my grandfather always used to refer to as an angel on earth. A God-fearing individual he was, I had heard. One of those special servants of God who had no interest in worldly pleasures whatsoever; one of those altruistic people who did not choose fatalism or asceticism as a mode of life, in an attempt to remain close to His Lord. I was dying to meet this noble man, but when the segregation set in upon their arrival, I had to remain content with my status.

Thankfully - though much to my embarrassment - my mother told his daughter-in-law how I loved to sit in the company of my grandfather’s friends, and how I longed to be a part of such meetings. God was being very, very kind to me when the gracious lady told me that I ought to go ahead and introduce myself to him. I was, after all, much like his own grand-daughter. And so I did.

There and then! Those few moments were indescribable. The moment I greeted him, ‘Peace and blessings be on you’, he had heavy tears in his eyes, and he offered me what I can safely term as the sincerest of prayers and the deepest of love. And at that moment, while managing to put up a smile and offering all the oceans of respect that filled in within those few minutes, I felt an aching lump forming in my throat. To contain myself, I had to swallow my tears.

At that moment, I realized how a good life ought to be defined. Here was this man who had no interest in the attractions of this world, and the fancies of the modern era, at large. Here was a man who was a living example of what one’s temporary abode in this world ought to be all about. Mortals such as myself have become so natural at accepting the highs of this life as an eternal quest that the things with real worth and meaning appear smudged in the canvas of this life.

Those moments felt like a revelation had just descended upon me. Such sort of men, who continue to love God under all circumstances, must be our role models - and not those who acquire a bit of fame, and eventually, become less of an influence and more of a mystery. This man had spent a life amidst noble virtues, and continues to do so in his mid-eighties. As he stood in front of me, communication was unparalleled, so to say. He had never met me before, but the moment I greeted him, it seemed as if the thoughts of my grandfather had come running back to him.

Those few seconds taught me much, much more than the conscience one needs to have in order to appreciate the reality of the Hereafter. He taught me about the road to such consciousness as well. He taught me about respect for the Almighty vis-à-vis all that I had heard of him and all that he appeared to be, with his humble posture in standing and tone of humility while speaking. And he taught me about loving and respecting fellow beings till time immemorial. It has been years since my grandfather moved on to the next stage, and here was this man, filled with emotion and love for his dear friend’s progeny.

And yet, we never quite realize the importance of such people. Perhaps, herein lies one pearl of wisdom behind God’s insistence on humankind to treat parents with respect and to maintain healthy contact with their friends and confidantes. That is wealth. If nothing else, one can learn the values of human bonds and ties through such efforts, without the threat of losing sight of the real life – the life that will be.

With every generation, there seems to be a de-generation. Our solace lies in the being of the elders – who must serve as food for thought, who must be the objects of our appreciation, and who are the fortress that still binds together the fabric of society. Should we choose to maintain the ties – of kinship and of friendship, as bonded by our elders – we will succeed in acquiring not only the best out of the lessons learnt but indeed, also out of the prayers earned.

After he returned to his village, and upon hearing my thoughts on our meeting, he extended his desire to meet me once more, garnished with a bouquet of prayers – the fragrance of which can last me a lifetime.

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