He had a hard life but he did the best that he could. He laughed seldom but when he did, it lit up the room. It was a sort of short burst of a laugh but a happy one. His eyes were rimmed with greyish circles. I often wondered if they came with old age. He sometimes wore these massive glasses that made me sad because they still couldn’t help him read. He carried an old 5146 because the keys on the newer phones were too small. He had a calculator with giant buttons which also made me sad when I looked at them.
He was impatient but always with good reason. He wore the best of clothes; always pristine and pressed to perfection. His suits were always perfect and his shirts a blinding white. His shoes were polished within an inch of their lives. He always looked distinguished; a gentleman; a reasonable man. He knew the worth of money and drummed it in into me. He would spend extravagantly on something that was worth it but hold back paying a small sum for something that was not. He liked good food. He ate lots of fruit; something he didn’t pass down to me. He peeled an apple with a knife, no fancy peeler for him.
He always ate breakfast and he laughed at old Indian films. He liked Amitabh Bachchan but I guess that’s no different to anyone else. He didn’t keep a beard for most of his life. I complained like hell when he started to but he grew into it. He used to use that old brush type thing to lather the white foam on his face when he shaved. He smoked for decades and every decade that I was alive I fought him about it. He eventually managed to stop and went a decade smoke-free.
He loved me. I used to say I was his favourite and secretly (maybe not secretly) I still think I am. He wore false teeth but still had his hair. His skin was browner than mine and more worn of course. He used to play football as a youngster. He loved going back home to Bangladesh. He always returned with this healthy, glowing vitality about him; a vitality that the British weather always stripped him of.
He took care of us when he could and as best as he could. I did rely on him. We all did. He wasn’t scared of hard work. He never learned to drive and sometimes came home with bags so heavy they seared marks onto his skin. He had a khaki coloured pair of trousers that he used to wear a lot. He loved my nieces and nephews like nothing else; they brought about his playful side. He was good with kids. I’m trying to remember more. I’m trying to remember everything because I never want to forget. I don’t want to forget that he was the only man I have ever relied on. He had my best interests at heart. He was my anchor, my hero, my saviour.
He was my father.
And I miss him.