Asmaa Al Hameli | March 4, 2013
I have a great father. He has embraced his three daughters with open arms and has never showed any sign of preference toward his only son.
In many societies, when a girl hits 18, she is expected to get married and have children. There is an expression in India that bringing up a daughter is like watering a neighbour’s plant because she is a temporary family member who will eventually leave the house after marriage.
While reading an article about female infanticide in India, I realised how blessed we in my family are to have such loving parents who have given us more than required. All of us are older than18 and they still take good care of us, even though three of us have jobs.
Last week, my editors asked if I knew anyone who had lived in the UAE for more than 50 years and could remember their early life. This was part of the Qasr Al Hosn project. I told them that my father has been living here since the 1930s. One of the reporters asked me if he would be willing to be interviewed and photographed.
When I asked him about it, he smiled. I did not know if that meant yes or no, so it was interesting to discover — for the first time – that a “smile” means “yes” in Al Hameli household. We were running out of time, so the reporter asked me to interview him.
The next day, I sat with him and asked questions about his early memories of Qasr Al Hosn. He was very expressive and seemed enthusiastic as he answered all of my questions. For me, it was painful to find out how much my parents and many others struggled to make a living.
When the photographer arrived, he was even happier; he thought I had been teasing about this. I also knew he was happy to have the opportunity to reminisce about the olden and golden days which many are not aware of.
I asked him if he thought young people should know more about their grandparents’ early lives. He said, “You guys will never appreciate or ponder upon what we went through because you live in a good condition.” I asked him the same question twice and his answer was the same.
Although I was looking for a different answer, he was right. We will never appreciate what they went through without being in their shoes.
I can never repay my parents, all I can do is take good care of them in their old age as they took care of me in my youth.
My father could not wait for the newspaper to come out and rejoice. I hid one thing from him, however. I did not tell him that I was going to mention his age in the article. But that is the only thing that proved he has lived here for more than 50 years .
I wonder if, knowing this, he would regret being interviewed and photographed. In our family, you never know what to expect.