…and like most good fathers out there, he liked to tell you the same ones over and over again. I’m not sure when it began, but I at some point in my life, I realized I may never hear his stories again. So, I made a conscious effort to ask him for a story whenever I could. Here is my top 10 list of how his most favorite stories began:
1) “In my country, I was Chief of Police…” (this was a good one that scared a lot of boys)
2) “I came to this country [America] with one suitcase!”
3) “In the police academy, my teacher wrote the word “trust” on the board and then quickly crossed it out…”
4) “When I was your age…” (these were typically stories intended on teaching me respect)
5) “Sit down, let me tell you a story…” (these were typically about Afghan history)
6) “Did I ever tell you about the time…” (these stories were typically about his or his family’s athletic prowess)
7) “OK, tell me if you’ve heard this Mullah Nasruddin story already…” (stories of a wise fool – always good for a laugh)
8) “Fart it out.” (not really a story, just some advice to a little kid with an upset tummy)
9) “This one time, at band camp…” Oh, wait. That’s a different storyteller…
Here’s a good one: Instead of simply answering, “Of course I think you’re pretty!” to his insecure little girl when she asked him if he thought she was pretty, he told me the story of a little baby porcupine who asked his momma if she thought his fur was soft. So the momma porcupine took her paw and ran it over the quills of her child, scratching herself up and said, “You have the softest fur I’ve ever felt!” I was never really sure how to take that story, but I appreciated the attempt. Thanks, dad.
10) “You can achieve anything with hard work in this country…” That was probably his truest story. He had everything – wealth, material possessions, job prestige, etc – and gave it all up to start over in a new country with his wife and daughter. He put his ego aside and worked manual labor jobs the rest of his life so that we could all be safe and together. We were never as rich as we were in Afghanistan again, but we were certainly wealthy.