I’m sure you’ve noticed that our Facebook, Youtube and Blog pages have been a little quiet lately. That’s because on Sunday Sep 29, 2013 at 11:30pm my father passed away. He passed while surrounded by people that he loved and that loved him back. He passed with ease, in peace. Seeing him take his last breath and his pulse slowly come to a stop played out in slow motion right before my eyes. My brain told me that my father was gone and I would never be able to speak with him again, but my heart refused. My heart didnt give up hope, it said, maybe he’s just going to pop out of his bed any minute and yell at me for something, maybe call me “wallah” one more time, tell me he loved me, maybe this is just a dream, Superman doesn’t die, maybe, maybe, maybe, but sadly your heart can mislead you sometimes. Suddenly all of my memories that included my father flashed before my eyes. It was as if my body was trying to hold on to any piece of him even if it was a memory, just in case we lost some of those as well.
The earliest images were of the both of us fishing. I have vivid memories of my first time catching fish on my own at around 4 years old. Looking back at my dad and him sitting there with so much pride. He successfully taught me to fish without his help. It was the first time I got a taste of that feeling when I made him proud…it made me hungry for more. The fish kept biting and I kept catching. I remember on those same beaches where I spent my childhood, crowds of people pulling up chairs and sitting around my dad in massive circles, because he would start singing. So many people couldn’t believe the voice on this man. He sang Lebanese songs by Nasri Shamssedeen and Wadih El Safi, he sang songs by Um Kalthoom and Sabah, and many more. This was my earliest exposure to Dabke Music. It’s likely the reason that I enjoy listening to the classics. I hear his versions of those songs, I don’t hear the artists anymore.
Later in life as a young adult I continued to have a great relationship with my father. I would go to weddings with my family my father would always say, “Son, get in there and do some Dabke with the men for me.” I was shy and had no idea what I was doing but I would join the line for him and he liked it. Many of those songs he sang from different cultures and folklore around the Middle East were now not only familiar to me, they sounded like home, like family, like my dad. The guy even knew a few songs in Turkish and Hindi lol. At this point he didnt sing in public as much, just mainly weddings when people would push him, at family gatherings and the odd 2am session for one of my children when they wouldn’t go to bed. What his voice was known for now was the Athan/Adan, the Islamic call to prayer.
I think back to when I started learning Dabke from Samir and I wonder if I was learning it for me or for my father. If I ever saw him in pain or feeling sick I would talk to him about Dabke sometimes and even show him some moves I just learned to put a smile on his face. I remember him laughing when he saw me wearing a shirwal and told us some funny stories about my grandfather and men comparing the size of their shirwal. I guess nothing changes with dudes. Then I came up with the Idea of teaching people Dabke online. Almost everyone I told thought the idea wasnt great or laughed or just didnt pay much attention. My father as with most of my business ideas told me he liked it and to give it a shot. He was always a fan of entrepreneurship. When I told Samir about it he was 100% willing instantly so we teamed up and we started working. Working hard came easy, I wanted to make my dad proud. I wanted to say, look dad, I came up with something that is now teaching Dabke to all of these people. A year later, Samir and I launched our first product, Dabke101 and people said they loved it. My dad was quite proud of us and until the last day he was alive, him and I continued to discuss business along with many other things, religion, politics etc. He was pushing me to do better and feeding my motivation.
Now the person that was many persons for me is gone. Who do I show when I catch the big fish? Who do I show the high marks I got on my certification tests at work? Who will I perform my new Dabke moves for? Who do I recite to when I memorize a new Surah or Ayah. I’m not sure. Maybe my family, my mother, my children but it wont be the same. What I do know for sure is that if my dad was here he would tell me to man up and move forward. To pray for him and continue pushing the bar. To work hard, pray hard and play some.
I received his approval and his blessings before he passed. Now it’s time to start putting to action all of those lessons he always taught. I cant wait to show you guys some of the new things Samir and I will be working on for Dabke in the next 12months. Who knows, maybe some of your are like me, you’ll learn to impress or bring joy to a loved one
p.s. Here is his Athan when he was 72 years old. Can you imagine his voice in his 40’s?
Your Dabke Student,