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Tears Of My Grandfather
It’s not just how the 70-year-old apologized profusely to the 7-year-old. And it’s not just how he cried on live television in a discussion on how Pakistan lost territory in 1971, as his grandson cried with him. Here is the founder of Pakistan’s media revolution, and the man who led the media war for Pakistan’s Independence Movement, through the eyes of his grandson on the 19th anniversary of his death.
MIR IBRAHIM REHMAN | Tuesday | 25 January 2011 | The News International
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—I could tell you many things about my grandfather.
I could tell you how as a teenage orphan he had to parent five of his younger siblings.
I could tell you how he single-handedly started his newspaper, and how he used to distribute himself on a bicycle, in Delhi, before Pakistan’s independence … and how he grew it into the largest media company of Pakistan.
I could tell you about how he supported over a hundred poor families and how humble he was that we only found out about it after he died.
But today I want to share with you something else about him.
My grandfather was not an emotional man. But I want to share with you some of his tears that I remember.
I was the first grandchild, so my grandparents almost kidnapped me and I lived more with them than my parents. I remember one time my sister who was five at the time complained to my grandfather that she thought that he liked boys more than girls because he didn’t kiss her as much as he kissed me. My grandfather grabbed her and kissed her for an hour nonstop, crying like a baby. The 70-year-old kept on apologizing to the 7-year-old.
Everywhere he went my grandfather was surrounded by people who wanted to know more from him. I remember when I would go with him to weddings he would hold my little finger while we were surrounded by people who wanted to know the latest political situation and the news.
My grandfather prayed the stipulated 5 times a day, and even when we were in public, when the time came, he would go off to a corner and pray. I would follow him because I was afraid he would embarrass me or himself because of the way he prayed. My grandfather prayed as if there was only him and God and no one else. He would held his hands out pleading God – looking like an innocent baby he would just be so thankful for his life that he often cry smiling … thanking God. I used to worry about his stature and status and not wanting him so exposed, so vulnerable I would try to get in the way so their views were blocked. My grandfather just didn’t have anything to hide and wasn’t afraid of vulnerability.
My grandfather and his generation helped build Pakistan brick by brick. I remember he once told me that he doesn’t want to have the highest market share for the sake of market share alone but wants to make sure that he pays more taxes than his competitors.
Once he was on national television and there was a program about Bangladesh, which used to be part of Pakistan. He was going through the history of how our country was broken in two and what were the mistakes we had made, and he just started crying. A mature man, one of the most respected and senior, on national television live. He was so revered that the anchor and guests didn’t know quite how to react and interrupt. I remember I was watching the program on TV and must have been seven. I didn’t even know what Bangladesh was but I started crying myself. I couldn’t see him in pain and just didn’t want him to cry alone.
When he was taken away from us I remember tens of thousands of people at his funeral. I was 13 or 14 at the time, it was raining and I remember feeling a little jealous. I met so many people who felt the same way about him as I did, people felt like he was theirs. His workers, his family members and friends and even people who had just known about his success story. They all felt like they had lost their best friend and mentor. That was the way he was, he made everyone feel special.
I remember meeting one of his friends at the funeral who asked me, “Do you know what is the definition of a great man, my son?” He explained that a real great man is not measured by how high he has come in society or how much money or respect and stature he has earned.
“A big man is not measured by his height but by the grace of his bow, for the little man. There may be some who have earned more than your grandfather or even received more recognition, but I don’t know any who has bowed down as much as him to humbly serve those that were not as big. Your grandfather was the biggest man I knew.”
My grandfather was not an emotional man but I wanted to share with you some of his tears that I remember.
MIR is CEO of Geo Network. He is the grandson of Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman. This op-ed appeared in The News International.
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