LIFE AND FAMILY: The Sacrifice of Parents

My younger brother and I were talking just last night about school holiday excursions and how we always looked forward to them back in those days. It is impossible for us to talk about such occasions without remembering our sole financier to such memorable events - my father.

In those days, the standard of education was higher than it is today and private schools were not all over the place. We were lucky to have attended one of the best private schools in our town. Of the many nice features of that school was the organisation of various excursions and fun programmes for the pupils. All these activities were not just for fun, they gave pupils an opportunity to visit new places and learn new things. However, they always came with a price. The school management always insisted that it cost a lot to be able to give pupils a truly memorable outing. Whenever we were given circulars from school informing our parents of yet another excursion, my brother and I never thought twice before presenting it to my father for prompt action despite efforts by our mother to prevent us from doing so. At that time, we always saw her as being too strict and wanting to deprive us of our well-deserved fun.Obviously, at the time, she knew so many things that we didnt. We never knew that she was just being considerate of our dads purse which was serving not just our immediate family but also other relatives. As soon as my father came home, .we would barely alllow him to drink a cup of water before presenting our circulars to him, all this while trying not to meet the eyes of our mother who eyed us with disgust for finding a way past her guard to present our demand. My father! May Allaah forgive him and grant him a place in Al-Jannah!

My brother called him selfless last nights; Im still looking for a better word to qualify his kindness! No matter what he had gone through during the day, he would smile as we gave him the details of the coming excursion as given to us by our teachers. We would .not even have to appeal or make a case for our attending before he said "alright, I'll see to it."We would thank him with hugs, kisses and prayers that we did not truly understand the meaning of and happily dance off to tell our three other siblings how daddy was going to pay for the trip. A particularly memorable occasion was when we were to pay one hundred naira (N100) each to visit some places. At the time, that amount was a large percentage of our school fees so it would not have been a bad idea for him to refuse us that trip, add whatever was left to the two hundred naira for both of us and pay our school fees. He however paid up promptly and ensured that our school fees were paid on time as well. In our naivete as children, we never bothered about how easy or otherwise it was for him to give us all these treats. We just assumed that jf we wanted it, we asked and we got it. Subhanallah! Now, to what my mother knew that we didnt; my father was a Civil Servant with a wife {who was working), five children, parents and a number of relatives looking up to him for assistance as the first child/son of the family. Even in the present day, we all have an idea of what the average Civil Servant earns. He had very little to augment his income but still had to pull his weight. He would receive lists and bills from various quarters which had to be paid and still ensured we had food on the table at all times.

As we grew older. my father would tell us that the last clothes he bought for himself had been purchased about ten years past but we always had new clothes for Sallah.He would wear a particular outfit and tell us that he bought it for the Aqiqah of one of the older children; at the time, that would be over fifteen years past. A lot of times. we would make demands on him that we knew bordered on the outrageous but he would do his best to meet the most reasonable of our needs. Way back then, we somehow got the impression that he was a rich man. How wrong we were! My father died eight years ago.As we went through his things. we came across his Salary slips. I was shocked to the bones! He had not earned the millions or even hundreds of thousands I always thought he must have been earning to carry the" huge responsibilities he bore. I realized then tha the was just a struggling man who strove to give his family the best hecould at the expense of his own comfort.

As a parent myself now, I have come to appreciate his sacrifice. I now identify with my mothers feelings when she tried to stop us from bothering him with whimsical demands. But sometimes I wonder if I can actually be as selfless as my father; wearing as old as twenty year-old clothes when my contemporaries are wearing the latest just so my children can have not just their needs but their wants as well! This is the sacrifice of parents. It is what a number of our parents went through just so we could be who we are today. It is often very painful when those parents die during this struggle or just at the point when they should reap the rewards of their efforts. Of course, we make duaa for them and accept Allahs decree on us but it doesnt take the aching and longing away totally. We still wish we could sponsor them to Hajj or Urnrah, buy them cars of their choice and so on. I for one wish I could replace my fathers old clothes with new ones of his choice, fill his purse and Bank accounts till they overflow and sponsor him on as many trips and holidays as he wishes. But. its too late for all that now.

All I can give him is my dua. I pray Allaah accepts them. As the parents of today, how willing are we to go the extra mile for our children? What priority do we place on the payment of their fees and other necessities? When things are a bit tight and a little money comes along, what thoughts run through our minds? Do we consider those Electronics weve wanted for so long. The fabrics for the family event and other such things or do we decide to pay up the childrens fees to save them the embarrassment of being sent home from school? As a little child, I always felt bad for those mates who were sent home for defaulting in payment of fees. My daughters school simply locks the gate and allows only children whose fees have been paid entrance into the compound. Children also have feelings! Some of these things create a lasting impression of inferiority in the minds of children. In as much as we understand that times are hard and pray that Allaah eases our burdens. this is just a wake-up call to us all. Our children should come first. No sacrifice is too much for them. If our parents could do so much for us,they (our children) deserve better from us. Remember, one day when we are long gone, they would remember us and make heartfelt dua for us. That dua might just come in handy! May Allaah forgive our parents living or dead; may He bestow on them mercy as they did bring us up (Q 17 [AI-lsra]:24). May He grant them and us the best in this dunyaa and in the akhirah. May He grant us pious offspring, provide us with lawful sustenance to provide for them and make us t better parents than those before us. Amin.

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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