We buried him on a Friday, when fortunately for him the whole mosque was full and more than four hundred men prayed for his soul to rest in peace, even though most of them didn't even know who he was. As he had been inactive (like a vegetable) for many years, only near relatives turned up at his funeral. For the past few years I had tried hard to make him read a newspaper or talk to me, but he would simply smile and stare into space, sometimes not even acknowledging my presence.

The poor man lived a useless life. In 1970 he saw a stunningly pretty girl, went up to her to chat, and she responded furiously. That made him decide to marry her. Nothing I said would make him change his mind. I pleaded with him, pointing out that she was a highly educated girl from Lahore, her mother tongue was Punjabi, how would she be able to live in Karachi with his illiterate family? She persuaded him to settle in Canada, he got the visas and the tickets, and fifteen minutes before they were due to leave, his mother burst into tears. He tore up the tickets and decided to stay in Karachi. That convinced her he was not really independent and was under the influence of his mother (who is my aunt, aged 90). As I had expected, she left shortly after this incident, with her mother and uncle to Lahore.

I begged him to go to Lahore, apologize to her and persuade her to come back. But he had always been very stubborn, he refused to even talk about the matter. As expected, she applied for annulment of the marriage, took her two children away and he never saw them again.

Perhaps he'd have been a different man if he hadn't been so over-protected. His father once told me he'd get him admitted to the once premier engineering college in the country (NED). I told him even if he succeeded, how would he ensure that his son would pass and get a degree? "I'll bribe the examiners", said my uncle. I told him that it was impossible to do so, as all papers were sent to different parts of the country for checking (in those days, East Pakistan was still a part of the country). Finally, his son got into a minor technical institute in Lahore and managed to get a degree from there. But of course he never held a proper job. His family was one of the 22 richest families in the country, why should he have to work for a living? He went into business, importing chemicals and selling them, but wasn't able to earn much.

Perhaps he was born unlucky. After the divorce, he set up a factory to make chemicals, but didn't observe the safety rules and was badly burnt. It was a miracle he survived. He spent the next forty years taking strong medication, progressively deteriorating until he became like an idiot. He passed away in his sleep, so at least his family members didn't have to spend days and nights in a hospital waiting for the end.