Image: Gheni with his father (private album)
By Abdurehim Gheni Uyghur
Pure anxiety is buried in the misery of a vagabond.
Sullen affection is known by the lovers of the century
The fine sentiments of grey and joyless life –
best known by the one who has fled his own country.
- from a Wandering Spirit
I will never forget May 23, 2017, when I heard my father’s voice for the last time and lost contact with nineteen family members. His words still echo in my ears.
” How are you doing, father? I know you must feel sorrow over passing my mother’s passing away. Is my stepmother taking good care of you? As your beloved son, I am not able to put my consoling arms arm around you when you feel sad. Nor am I able to take care of you if you happen to be hospitalized or fulfill my duties as your son. I carry a lot of guilt for this. I am so sorry, father!”
Then I burst in tears.
“Do not feel sorry, my son”, my father said. “No one knew in advance that you would have to flee and live in another country. Think positive! Maybe it has unexpected benefits. You have gone through many challenges after moving to another country. You have gotten to understand the world and yourself better. Perhaps now you can find the answer to why you decided to resign from your job and flee instead of staying with your relatives and childhood friends.”
“Wherever you live, don’t forget your home country, the place where you were raised. Take good care of your family, and raise your children righteous. Your wife and your children are the ones who always comfort you and make you happy. Treating them well equals to treating me well.”
I remember how my father always respected and obeyed my grandfather. He always abided by the old Uyghur saying: It’s God’s will for us to treat our parents well.
Being raised in that environment, I also appreciate my father’s advice. During the last phone call, he also said: “You are living in a country of completely different beliefs and culture. You should obey the laws of that country. Be a good citizen, try hard to find jobs, and live independently without government welfare and society will value your input. Holland is your second home. Your children are native to the Netherlands. Your children would follow your path of living. Be a role model to them and educate them well.’
As if he knew that this was our last conversation, he gave me much advice. I had never thought that it was our last conversation. Four years have passed like one day. I always miss his voice, his kindness, and His righteousness. His appearance is always in my mind.
Sometimes, I see him in my dreams and talk to him. “My beloved father! I miss you so much. I realized how much you sacrificed for raising us, now that I am a father to my children. Sometimes you said, “everyone loves their children more than anything. I remember this whenever I play with my children and then miss you. You fulfilled your duty as a father. Mine has just started.
There is an old Uyghur saying: A son is his father’s secret. “Whenever I see that I have inherited my characteristics from you, I thank God for giving me such a wonderful father. Your smiling face is my motivation. I do my best to pass these good traits to my children. Your modesty and prudency remind me of the importance of patience. Your righteousness teaches me how to distinguish friends from enemies. You are my pride, my lighthouse, and the source of my love. May God bless you and protect you if you are alive. May God bless you and grant you a place in Paradise, if you have already passed away.