Abu’s Story

By Abdul Qadir Bukhari
Edited by Marine Pintena

It is often a monumental task on deciding where to begin when asked to comment on a man’s life who has accomplished so much. I guess a good way to begin would be to look at parts of his character that has influenced and inspired me. One thing above all that I found particularly spectacular about him is his ability to socialize and mingle with individuals in all four corners of the globe.

At a time when racial segregation and racial prejudice were repent, he ventured from a village that was so insignificant that it would not even appear on most maps of India, with nothing more than the will to thrive leaps and bounds. It is his trustworthy personality and his honesty that opened various doors.

Abdul Qadir BukhariI am now trying to pursue a career in Environmental protection and conservation. To a lot of people in my immediate community it might appear as the pursuit of a futile future. The way, in which a lot of people these days measure an individual’s success is through the material wealth, in-terms of money or assets, one accumulates. However as I become older and wiser I realize the true wealth that my Appapa is taking back. All the people’s lives he has changed through his philanthropy made his wealth. To get closer to self-actualization one must not only use his skills for his/her personal benefit but rather for the benefit of a larger group of individuals or for humanity as a whole.

After my father went through the demise of both his parents in a horrific car crash, Appapa came as silver lining at the end of a evil and menacing storm cloud in my dad’s life.

I have travelled India wide and have witnessed the reality of a life as an orphan, which is too hard for any of my friends in the western world to comprehend. The sheer luck of my dad being born in the right family is what separates him from the abject poverty. My dad is truly blessed and I am even more than him with each consecutive generation probability of being brought up with silver spoon greatly reducing. And even though I might not be a direct grandson, I never felt any different or got a different treatment to any of his own grandchildren.

I have very fond memories of my Appapa. I saw a man with pretty much the weight of the whole world on his shoulders, which most men would buckle under pressure.

He always allowed time for family. Even in a room full of important business and dignitaries, as the prepubescent version of myself entered the room his face would light up. Bound to his wheelchair, he would gesture for me to come closer and embrace him, followed by warm moist to the forehead. These are certainly memories that I will take to the grave.

Every man has a weakness otherwise they wouldn’t be human. Appapa’s weakness was his hospitality. Being the socialite that he was would oblige him to host dinners on a daily basis. As you know it is customary in our tradition to give dinners, which are both rich flavour and fat. All the stress and rich food together formed a deadly combination. Over the years I witness his diminishing health which all originated from obesity.

In my visit on May 2012 I had very surreal experience witnessing a man, who was icon for Muslim Indian business worldwide, on all sort of machines supporting most of his vital organs. For the first time in my visits to Appapa, he could not acknowledge my presence in the room nor anyone else. Every single individual in there had the same thoughts in their mind. If there were any existing possibility to levitate all the pain from him and transfer it to us we would do it without a single thought. It is then when it dawned upon me: wealth can solve a lot of problems but even that cannot make you immortal.

Knowing that not one second of Appapa’s life was meaningless is something that gives me a lot of solace. He has lifted 10’s thousands people from abject poverty. He has accomplished more in a lifetime than 100’s of people put together would have done. He is truly an inspiration and he continues to inspire youths such as myself to push the frontier, to use our skills to lift our brothers from poverty no matter race, creed or religion.