AVM Mohammad Latif Tambra shaheed- May his soul rest in peace. Ameen.
Born. 3 Mar 1928/ 12 Ramadan 1346 – Died. 10 Oct 2007/ 27 Ramadan 1428.
Our beloved Daddyjan- As a daughter remembers.
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.
My dearest father, whom I fondly called Daddyjan, left us for heavenly abode on the 27th of Ramadan 1428, the 10th of October 2007. May his soul rest in peace, Ameen, Thume Ameen. In Karachi, Pakistan 10th of Oct was 27th of Ramadan in 2007. I will intimate to you later in this article, when and why I started calling our father, ‘Daddyjan’. He is survived by a wife, four daughters and ten grand children, who all miss him intensely. He was a beacon of light for our lives; with out him we are incomplete as a family. We find it very difficult to live with out him. By each passing day we remember him lovingly and fondly as if he is still, very much, living with us and is still, very much, alive amongst us. This is possible, only, as we try to do all those good deeds which our beloved Daddyjan used to do during his own life time and which he used to advise us too. May Allah give him rewards (thawab) for his own good deeds and also give him rewards for our good deeds, which we practice while we copy him, and while we work on his advice. Ameen, thume ameen. We Muslims believe in ‘sadaqa e jariya’ (a continuous gift) which is that, ‘from the rewards of every good deed, a portion of the reward goes to the person from whom that good deed was imitated and also to the one who advised the doer to do it’. That good deed becomes ‘sadaqa e jariya’ (a continuous gift which is recieved by the deceased in the afterlife too) for the person from whom it was imitated and by whom it was advised.
There are many things which are decided exclusively by Allah All-Mighty and humans do not have any authority over them. One of them is about choice of parents. No one chooses one’s own parents. They are given purely by Allah All-Mighty. A human is not fully qualified to thank Allah in a complete sense, because of his/ her limited abilities to understand completely the blessings of Allah and because of his/ her limited power of expression. To express myself I can just write, which I know, is quite inadequate that, I am extremely thankful to Allah The All-Merciful that He Sub Han Wa Ta’ala gave us such adorable, Allah-fearing, loving, honest and sincere parents. May Allah have mercy on both our parents, Ameen, thume ameen. May Allah have mercy on our Daddyjan who died very unexpectedly and very suddenly, and may Allah have mercy on our mother who is still living, but now she is old and delicate. May our beloved Daddyjan’s soul rest in peace, ameen, thume ameen, and may Allah bless our mother with good health and long life, ameen, thume ameen. I also thank Allah that He Sub Han Wa Ta’ala let us live, with our wonderful Daddyjan, up till now. Now that, we, our Daddyjan’s children, have entered our own middle age. It is never easy to reconcile with the death of a loved one, when at the time of his/ her death, the deceased was in good health, and was doing well in life till the death arrived. As Muslims we believe our Daddyjan’s appointed time, decided by Allah All-Mighty had come, which could not be postponed (na’oozobillah), so our Daddyjan had to go. But I thank Allah that He Sub Han Wa Ta’ala, gave us this much time to live in the company of our wonderful Daddyjan and He Sub Han Wa Ta’ala gave our beloved Daddyjan good health till his last breath. Although our beloved Daddyjan was 79 years of age according to the Gregorian calendar and 82 years according to the Hijri calendar, but he was keeping a wonderfully perfect health. Age did not show much on his high spirits. At this age too he was able to recite Quran in the beautiful soft voice he had and in the beautiful typical way, he had. He was able to pray and recite Quran for long hours, which he enjoyed very much. He was able to keep fasts through the whole month of Ramadan. He was fasting on the day he died. He took interest into and also he appreciated all the goodies of nature for e.g. good smells, colors, foods, books, music, movies, and the entire life in short. All this was done in a lighthearted, cheerful and interesting way which he practiced throughout his life. He was an Allah-fearing, honest, hard working, sincere, trustworthy, and a dependable person. And for us daughters, he was an extremely loving father. When he was alive, I had always prayed to Allah in all my supplications to give our both parents long life with good health, keep our both parents strong till death, and give them old age without any kind of health problems, disabilities or financial problems. I thank Allah that He All-Mighty granted me my wish. But the way our Daddyjan went, we never expected it to happen that way and never imagined that it could take place that way. No one knows, in his/her future, what Allah keeps for His faithful.
I want to share our Daddyjan’s passing with all those who read this article, with our family members, friends and all those who knew him. But when I took upon myself to write something about our Daddyjan, I realized that words cannot fully describe a person’s greatness, the depth of feelings and the importance of events and situations. I pray that I am able to do some justice with the affectionate memories of our Daddyjan, May his soul rest in peace. Ameen, thume ameen. Those who die, just cease to exist in their physical existence, their emotional existence remains in the hearts and minds of the living souls, who not only remember the deceased fondly, but also carry their legacy and pass it on, to the next generations. The death of our beloved Daddyjan, to us, is like the end of a whole era. The end of a golden era, the magnificent legacy of an honest, trustworthy, hardworking, pious, chaste, modest, brave, truthful, sincere, down to earth and loving Daddyjan, which must be cherished for the centuries to come. Daddyjan was a man who tried his best to live his life by The Book, The Holy Quran, and by the Traditions of The Prophet Mohammad Peace Be Upon Him. May Allah give our Daddyjan good rewards for his worships and good deeds. Ameen. And may Allah give him the company of pious people in the heavens. Ameen, Thume Ameen.
Before I start I want to share the back ground of our Daddyjan’s folks as told by our Daddyjan himself. The forefathers of our Daddyjan came from Iraq as Muslim missionaries and preachers who did trading and business for a living. Soon they bought the land and started cultivation. According to Daddyjan, most probably the grand father of Daddyjan’s grand father migrated to this region called Hindustan. This makes the arrival of our paternal forefathers, at Hindustan, around the beginning of eighteenth century. Originally they were Arabs and as the tradition goes, whole families used to move during those times, along with wives, kids, domestic animals plus all the provisions. They all came and settled in Sialkot, which is now in Punjab, Pakistan. In future their caste will be known as ‘Arain‘ and sub-caste as ‘Tambra‘. After five, six generations, due to intermarriages with the locals, all our folks speak Panjabi, a language of the locals, and none can speak Arabic, the language of their forefathers. Although over the years they lost the Arabic language but did not lose the teaching and preaching of Islam. They have always been good teachers. It’s in the family. In my childhood I saw, our paternal grand mother, mohtarema Noor Bibi sahiba, may her soul rest in peace, used to give religious sermons to ladies who used to gather in her house on Fridays and our grand mother, may her soul rest in peace, used to lead them in Friday prayers. Our grand mother used to read Arabic from The Quran, then she used to read the explanation in Urdu and then she further explained the text in Punjabi, the local language. Now our aunt, mohtarema Saleema sahiba, Daddyjan’s only sister, who is still alive, may Allah bless her and give her long life, ameen, lead the prayers of the lady’s congregation and give religious sermons in the local mosque in Sialkot. Almost all of our Daddyjan’s folks are educated people and do business or any other occupation, other than the armed forces. None of them served in any of the armed forces except our Daddyjan. And our Daddyjan not only just served in the Pakistan Air Force, he attained the highest echelon in the Engineering Branch. He reached the designation of Deputy Chief of Air Staff Engineering Branch, which was not easy in the PAF, for engineering officers, during those times when our Daddyjan attained it i.e. in 1985.
I also want to share with you the place where our Daddyjan lived during his childhood, and how he spent his adolescent years, the loves of all the elders he experienced. The atmosphere around this great man at that time and how it all helped him to choose what he chose later in life. I would like to go into some necessary details because I believe childhood remains with a person till death. Our Daddyjan was born in Sialkot on the 3rd of March 1928, which was the 12th of Ramadan 1346 in Hijri calendar. Our Daddyjan was so lucky. He was born in Ramadan and he died in Ramadan. May his soul rest in peace. Ameen. Thume Ameen. Our grand father, janab Chaudhri Feroze ud Din sahab, may his soul rest in peace, owned the land and livestock, and used to look after them with the help of workers. Our grand mother’s name was mohtarema Noor Bibi sahiba. Our Daddyjan grew up in a large family. The household comprised of parents and seven kids (six sons and one daughter). A number of cows, water buffalos, bulls, roosters, hens and chicken were also part of the household. The house where our Daddyjan grew up was an airy one. It was situated at the bank of an irrigation canal called Nala Aik. I remember our grandparent’s house had a hand pump from where the ladies of the neighborhood, who needed water, used to come and fill their buckets and utensils. Daddyjan was the eldest child of his parents. He was the blue eyed boy of his parents. He was jewel of a person from an early age. He was a very caring, a very loving and a very helpful kid. Many times he used to feed his younger siblings, putting food in their tiny mouths, when he used to sit down himself to have food. Daddyjan’s youngest brother was 17 years younger than him. Our Daddyjan used to feed us too when we were young and when time came he fed our children too, when they were young. Since his childhood our Daddyjan was a very active and brilliant child. His grand father may his soul rest in peace, died much earlier but Allah gave our Daddyjan chance to live with his grandmother, may her soul rest in peace, for a considerable period of time. Our Daddyjan was the apple of his grand mother’s eyes. He always remembered his grand mother respectfully and warmheartedly. Daddyjan was extremely loved by his grand mother, who had seven sons of her own and our Daddyjan’s father was her eldest son. Out of pure love our Daddyjan’s grand mother used to call our beloved Daddyjan her eighth son. Our Daddyjan’s grand mother used to crush almonds and coconut into a paste every morning, and then used to mix it with milk. She used to stand in the way between the home and the mosque so when our Daddyjan would come from the mosque, she would separate him from the other kids and would give the milk to him to drink. It was a gesture of profound love from a grand mother to her grand child. Our Daddyjan was an extremely lucky person because he was the one, who from his very childhood till death, was passionately admired by all the people around him. Our Daddyjan used to tell us that his grandmother was one of the very few from Sialkot, at that time, who went with the Hajj caravan, to perform Hajj. At that occasion people from their own village plus people from the neighboring villages came to bid farewell to our Daddyjan’s grandmother. During those days traveling was very difficult. Commonly people used to travel by foot. But our Daddyjan’s grandmother was a rich lady, owner of a considerable land and livestock so she traveled on her own camel, with all her provisions, plus sugar and wheat which she took as gifts for the residents of the Haram Shareef.
Our Daddyjan was a very promising child from his early childhood. He was quick to understand and quick to learn new things. During his school days, he used to help his class fellows and juniors in their studies, after school hours. Our Daddyjan used to learn the explanation of Holy Quran from the Imam Sahab of the local Mosque. He spent four years, from class 9th till 2nd year F.Sc with the Imam Sahab, along with the formal school education. I was extremely surprised when Daddyjan told me about it, because these years are the most critical and decisive years in the life of a student, studying in the subcontinent. At this stage it is very difficult for an average student to take any extra loads, as the formal studies are so very demanding and taxing. And whole career of the individual depends upon the marks obtained during these years. Same is true even now-a-days. But our Daddyjan was an exceptionally gifted person and unique in every respect, therefore he managed to do both the studies, at the same time, and was able to do them in the best way, ever possible. Although from a very young age he became aware of The Gifts of Allah All-Mighty, which were bestowed upon him by Allah All-Mighty, but all his life, he always had been down to earth and faithful to Allah. He was never proud, selfish, arrogant or boastful. He always had good friendships with his peers. He always regarded all his teachers, at very high esteem and always used to talk about them honorably and admirably. Those were the pre-partition days when there was no electricity in the region. So all the reading, writing and learning had to be done in the day light hours, or in the light of an oil burner (laltain), which could again limit the working hours. And there were no quick means of travel as, the buses, the rickshaws and the taxis were non existent for public use. People used to travel long distances on foot which was quite time consuming. Our Daddyjan was also commuting to school on foot daily.
During Daddyjan’s senior school days, many times Daddyjan used to deliver religious sermons on Fridays and used to lead prayers, in the local Mosque which was a big mosque (a Jamia’a Masjid). The Mosque used to be full of the faithfuls, on Fridays. Similarly many times our Daddyjan used to recite Quran (qirat) in front of the people who used to gather for Friday prayers. And many times our Daddyjan recited poems in praise of Allah All-Mighty and the Last Prophet, Mohammad Peace Be Upon Him. Through out our Daddyjan’s childhood and adolescent days his favorite games were kabaddi, gullidanda, bantay geetian, lattu chakkar, karemboard (all these are local games) and foot ball. He took interest in body-building too. Also he enjoyed swimming in Nala Aik sometimes with all the cattle around. Nala Aik used to be very clean and its water was pure even till our childhood. As I remember Nala Aik had gushing water with muddy appearance. Daddyjan also liked to take a ride on the backs of the humble water buffalos. He used to remember it very cheerfully after wards. There used to be a large tree in front of Daddyjan’s house under which a big gathering of people used to assemble daily and Daddyjan used to read out to them from the authentic books of long stories of fiction (e.g. Bagh o bahar, Dastan e Ameer Hamza, Sassi Punnu, Mirza Sahiban etc. etc.). It used to be a specifically male gathering and many people used to come there. And all used to enjoy the stories.
Our Daddyjan was a consistent topper. He always stood first in all the educational institutions he joined, through out his education. Once I asked Daddyjan, why didn’t he get any scholarship during his school or college days? The answer was simple. He replied because during those days pupils had to apply for the scholarship and the fees was very high to obtain the entrance form, so he did not apply for the form. This was the justice of the British Raj at that time and these were the facilities provided for the Hindustani people by the British rule of those pre-partition days.
During our Daddyjan’s school days, once Mr Jawahar Lal Nehru came to Sialkot, so Daddyjan had a chance to attend that open gathering where Mr Jawahar Lal Nehru spoke. Daddyjan observed that Mr Nehru was an extremely fervent orator. During his speech Mr Nehru continuously hit the table, which was placed in front of him, with his closed fists, and in doing so Daddyjan observed that Mr Nehru’s hands became red like anything. By the end of his speech people became so enthralled that they offered whatever they had for the Congress Party. They offered pieces of jewelry and valuables, the quantity of which was so much that it took the shape of a big heap on the table. Soon after that episode, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah called on the Muslim youth to come out, and work to unite Muslims and to prepare ground for the making of Pakistan. Atmosphere was such during those days that every one in Sialkot was politically active one way or the other. Many times Daddyjan also stood at the table, which was placed in front of the mosque, and delivered speeches for the awakening of The Muslims and in the favor of the making of Pakistan. Our Daddyjan many times went with friends to the neighboring villages to persuade people to vote for the making of Pakistan.
After completing Matric with flying colors from the Government School Sialkot, Daddyjan entered the Murray College Sialkot. He did his Bachelor of Science, in 1948 from there, that too as usual, with flying colors. It was a norm for Daddyjan that where ever he studied, no matter what he studied, he was admired and respected by all his teachers and class fellows. Our Daddyjan also always remembered his teachers respectfully and admirably, and always remembered his classmates and schoolmates fondly. It was a tradition of the Murray College Sialkot that the college used to give a copy of The Holy Bible to all its graduating students, free of cost, at the convocation, along with the degree. We still have that small copy of The Holy Bible with us which Daddyjan received at that time, at his graduation. At the request of the principal of Murray College Sialkot, our Daddyjan started teaching in the same college. Daddyjan started smoking cigarettes during these days when he was in his early twenties. Now he bought a bicycle to commute to the college. Our Daddyjan used to tell us an Urdu poetic verse which was written on the main building of the Murray College. Daddyjan used to repeat this Urdu verse many times during his life, especially towards the end of his life when both our parents used to take walks. In the following I write this Urdu poetry verse in Roman Urdu so that I am able to share it with you, because I think Daddyjan liked it that’s why he repeated it many times during his life.
Yeh chaman younhi rahe ga aur hazaron jaanver
Apni apni boliyaan sab bolker urh jaaengey
English translation for those who do not understand Urdu:
This garden will remain as it is, with many living creatures in it
Each will sing its individual songs, and ultimately all will fly away
Our Daddyjan was very loving and extremely considerate towards all his family members. His nature was such that he was extremely helpful towards all around him, whether at home or on job. He would himself step forward and extend help, before any one would ask for it, and if asked he never refused. One instance I would like to share with you to give you some idea of it. Many times it so happened that while coming back from the college Daddyjan used to spot his sister, who was eight or nine years younger to him, at the crossing. She was also coming from her school, in the company of her friends. So Daddyjan would just wave to his little sister to come to his side of the road, took her big bag from her and made her sit on the bicycle which he then peddled home. He used to do all this so his little sister may not get tired of walking home with her big school bag which otherwise, she would have to carry all the way home.
Our Daddyjan did not have a tall physique but had extremely high morals and a very dashing personality. He had a wheatish complexion with reddish tinge. Through out his life he was clean shaven, very good looking, very well dressed and a very well mannered person. While teaching in the Murray College Sialkot, he met a female student, who studied in his class. He was the teacher, she was the student. Her name was mohtarema Kishwar Sultana sahiba. She was a Rajput Bhatti. Daddyjan’s family had known her family for some years now. She was five years his junior, daughter of janab Allah Rakhkha sahab, the contractor. May his soul rest in peace. Ameen, thume ameen. She was very hardworking and very pretty. This was told by our Daddyjan, later, when we were able to understand it. At one time she took tuitions from Daddyjan after school, in the afternoons, at her home. She worked hard and did her FSc with flying colors, in 1951. That was a time when girls were not allowed to go out of homes to study. Girls left home only when they were married off. But Kishwar Sultana’s father was a very open minded person. He wanted his brilliant daughter to study further. So after completing her FSc, she got admission in the King Edwards (KE) Medical College Lahore and went there in hostel. Kishwar Sultana was very happy to get admission in the prestigious KE Medical College but her mother, mohtarema Zainab Bibi sahiba, (may her soul rest in peace) was very upset after sending her lovely daughter to such a far off place called Lahore. Her mother missed her very much so called her back home. Therefore, with in months, one fine day, as an obedient daughter, in the company of her father, janab Allah Rakha sahab (may his soul rest in peace), Kishwar Sultana came back to Sialkot and left KEMC for good. After coming back to Sialkot she started teaching in a prestigious girl’s school, the Lady’s Anderson High School, Sialkot.
In 1953, at age 25 years, our Daddyjan joined the Pakistan Air Force as a Pilot Officer and his first posting was in the PAF Base Risalpur, North West Frontier Province. From the PAF Base Risalpur, our Daddyjan was sent to UK for a short course. Our grand mother (may her soul rest in peace) came to Risalpur, with her another son, to wish our Daddyjan good luck and to bid him farewell. Daddyjan had to go to Karachi and then to the UK. Even in the UK our Daddyjan kept his routine of getting up early in the morning, as he was always an early riser through out his life and prayed regularly. Our Daddyjan was a good natured and friendly person and also he was smart and good looking so it was expected of him to have good friendships in the UK. A friend of his sent a Christmas card from the U.K. to Daddyjan’s family in Sialkot. To reciprocate, our grand mother also sent a thank you card to that friend. At this point in life, our Daddyjan started reading the Readers Digest regularly every month with out fail. Our Daddyjan had monthly subscription for it. Our Daddyjan stopped reading it from the early seventies. Daddyjan completed UK course with flying colors. When he came back to Pakistan, he was posted to Karachi, Sindh. In a very cheerful manner, our Daddyjan used to recall an incident when he first came to Karachi from Sialkot. When our Daddyjan stepped down at Karachi Railway Station he asked a horse cart (tonga) driver to take him to the PAF Base Mauripur. As was the norm in Sialkot, at that time, people used to travel any where in the city, by the horse carts. The driver of the horse cart replied this horse could not reach Mauripur. Daddyjan doubled the bucks, the tonga driver replied the same, that it could not reach Mauripur. Daddyjan again doubled the bucks, the tonga driver again replied the same. Laughingly Daddyjan used to recall the horse cart driver’s insistence and persistence that the horse could not reach that far area of the city. Then Daddyjan took a taxi and sure, Mauripur was as far, as if, it were some where out side, the city of Karachi.
Our Daddyjan got married on the 31st of July 1955, with that beautiful young lady, who was his student in the Murray College, and whose name was Kishwar Sultana. Our mother came to Karachi as a young bride. In the very beginning of PAF days, the officers had to find their accommodation all by themselves. The PAF provided only the residence allowance. So Daddyjan took residence in the Model Colony as he was working in the PAF Base Malir at that time. Daddyjan had been so fearless that when they both used to take long walks, at night, after dinner, in those lonely quiet streets of the Model colony, our mother used to wear all the gold jewelry she had. She was also a very well dressed lady who loved to be, up to date, complete with jewelry and all the accessories.
I still remember our Daddyjan’s light kiss on our young tiny foreheads, when we used to sleep, and our Daddyjan used to come back late night or in the early mornings after spending some weeks at a job in another town. Also I remember clearly our mother’s soft voice in the back ground saying something. This happened in Mauripur when I and my older sister were just four and five year olds, and my younger sister was in the cradle. Our Daddyjan spent many years of his PAF life in Karachi. During that time Daddyjan worked in all the bases of the PAF which were located in and out of Karachi city.
The longest tenure of our Daddyjan’s job in Karachi was at the PAF Base Korangi Creek, where he spent more than a decade. He went to PAF Base Korangi Creek as a Flight Lieutenant and was posted out of the PAF Base Korangi Creek as a Group Captain. Our Daddyjan worked as a professor at the prestigious College of Aeronautical Engineering (CAE), which used to be at the PAF Base Korangi Creek before it moved to the PAF Base Risalpur. It was just a stroke of luck that when the CAE was moving to the PAF Base Risalpur, Daddyjan was posted as the Commandant of the CAE so all the shifting took place under his sincere and meticulous eyes. He was Air Vice Marshal at that time. It was also pure luck that Daddyjan was buried, with all the military honors, in the grave yard of the Cantonment board area of the PAF Base Korangi Creek, Karachi. Our Daddyjan’s father, janab Chaudhri Feroze ud Din sahab, may his soul rest in peace, died in Sialkot when Daddyjan was working in the PAF Base Korangi Creek. Our grand father died in the early 1960’s. He is buried in Sialkot.