Notes From America: My Dad Was an Average Man.…!

May 30, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Ahmed Tharwat

On this Memorial Day, I would like to dedicate a tribute to my Dad. My Dad passed away years ago. The west has seen enough bad Muslims, time to meet my dad.

My Dad was a small, petite man with a big nose and sharp piercing small eyes; in our large family for the most part he was an invisible man. My Dad was the only educated member of his farming family so he had a big load on his shoulders. He wasn’t a heavy-handed, intimidating father figure. What many Egyptians sarcastically call “Sy Sayed” Mr. Sayed. However, he believed that to survive raising a family of ten on a few dollars monthly salary, you needed to be vigilant in reconstructing these family values. He thought it all should start with what is in the name.

Our original Arabic names were all morally misleading, having been either those of a prophet or a servant of God, Mohammed, Ahmed, Abdelraffe, Aabdellnasser, Abdelaal, etc… didn’t reflect who we really were, so he gave us character-based nicknames; I became the Sursarah, the small cockroach; my mom was Walad, one of the boys; the skinny one was Feseekhah, dried fish; the enigmatic one was Brovdaah (I still have no idea what it means); the oldest was Abul-ossi, the father of sticks; then, the comfort-seeker was Oomdah, the mayor; the youngest was Hando’ah, the cutie; and my only sister was Al-arousah, the beautiful bride. He also developed his own veinchlares language, “Argesh” meaning get done whatever you have, “Ekshif Al Gaw” test the water first, and my very best “Qoom Men Managheery” get lost!

He wasn’t a religious zealous man; he was what you could call a moral relativist. He would quietly pray the mandatory five daily prayers without lecturing us. He would tell us biblical stories to spread his moral ploys; each story would have a disguised message made to shape our outlook on life. The prophet said: to sleep hungry is to be merry; he would say when one asked for a late meal. “The Hebrew people got lost in Sinai for 40 years, you know” he reminded us when we drifted to our ways, and if you don’t listen to his advice he would say; suite yourself but remember; Noah’s son didn’t make it on his own.

He was a frugal man; to my Dad, consumption was an evil state of depletion. Nothing terrified him more than one of us breaking into the kitchen to snack before mealtime. It was a violation of the house golden rules. He even developed a home security sound-code alert system reflecting the level of threat to any domestic consumption around the house. Regardless of where he was, he managed to monitor and sense what was going on in our kitchen, even in his sleep. Clearing his throat was a special warning alarm to alert us to his level of threat and annoyance. He would clear his throat once if you broke into the kitchen, twice, for opening the refrigerator, and three “ahems” meant don’t touch that cold watermelon.

A conservationist before it became fashionable; He would walk around the house turning off radios, stoves, electricity and shut windows— as his daily mission to defeat ominous waste. Reusing old stuff around the house for him was a divine resurrection ritual. Eating questionable leftover food was his small triumph over the tyrant of the decaying process. Sending the mail in used envelopes was his personal signature, reusing old batteries even for just a few minutes was magical, and for him, nothing was ever too precious to be wrapped in scraps of old newspaper. My dad around the house; didn’t say much, did much, move much, he was an average man, a brilliant one who taught us to be a hero and never tried to be one. My dad passed away a few years back and finally is resting in a divine place where there isn’t much to do or to say— the way he always wanted, god bless you Dad.









Ahmed Tharwat

Ahmed Tharwat is the Producer and Host of the Arab-American TV show BelAhdan. His articles are published in national and international publications. He blogs at Notes from America, and his articles appear in national and international publications. Follow him on Twitter @AhmediaTV.

1 Comment

  1. sarah ito May 29, at 01:12

    I enjoyed this remembrance of your father immensely.


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