One of my least favorite things about living in Jordan is that we cannot spend as much time with him as we would like. Although he was quite the workaholic, my childhood is full of the fondest memories of us playing a collection of games he invented for us, of him helping us learn the lines and act out the scenes of historical Arabic movies (“Man minkom moshtaqon ila sayfeee!”), and of him taking us on road trips as often as he could.
Most of my earliest memories involve my father, rather than anyone else. My father, you see, was the first man I ever loved.
I remember him standing on a cliff and throwing us into this little place where the Dead Sea meets sweet water, when we weren’t old enough to swim. I would always climb back up and ask for more. I remember him teasing me when my mother and I would “fight”, something we still laugh about often today, “Roba, aslan Mama ma bet7ebek” is a very popular family joke. I remember him playing this game where we would run through the doors while he tried to get us with little stress balls. That was one of my favorite games ever, if not my favorite.
Dad taught me a lot of things in life, both directly and indirectly. At a very early age, he taught me the importance of defending myself, even if it meant confronting someone much bigger. All it takes, he shows me, was some courage, and if courage doesn’t do it, well, there’s always four of us, and he taught us to stick together. When I became a little older, he taught me how to enjoy the finer things in life; how to enjoy a good meal, how to act like a “gentleperson”, how to always choose quality, and how to be generous, for no one could possibly be as generous as he.
Dad taught me the value of reading; I really started reading the alphabet when we were in the car and he would ask me to read the storefronts and signs as we drove around Riyadh. He taught me the value of information; I was always amused at how my father knew the answer to almost everything, and every time I would read, I would try to remember what I was reading so that I would one day know a lot too.
Dad taught me to love unconditionally, even though some people might not deserve it. He taught me how to value good friends, through different countries and different lives. He taught me to give without expecting anything in return, he taught
me to be easy-going, he taught me that life is a matter of priorities.
He taught me to work hard, to expect the best, and to appreciate the
different types of dates. Dad taught me the importance of being friendly, of treating everyone with respect, of not judging people from where they come. He taught me to be welcoming, and he taught me the importance of saying hi :)
Today is his birthday, and like every year, I find myself helpless as to how to give him an ounce back of all the love he gave, and still gives, to me. Unfortunately, due to distance, I cannot even give him a hug or a card. Perhaps next year.
For this year though, I will have to settle for this; Happy birthday Baba, from myself, Hisham, Omar, and il-Qazam il-Shereer. We love you more than we love the world, and we thank you for everything.