From me to them, thank you....

By Naveed Khan
Tue, 06, 24

On the occasion of Father’s Day, Naveed Khan pays tribute to those wonderful men who are not biological fathers but are comforting uncles and considerate souls. Read on...

From me to them, thank you....


Usually when Father’s Day is around the corner, my mind wanders and an emotional rollercoaster ensues. It goes around focussing on what I have as a father and what I do not have without a father.

This year, it has been different and I have not gone on that journey. Seeing some friends and family go through a variety of both blessings and loss, the last year has taught me a lot – mainly that even being able to reminisce about times with my abbu, or things I may have done with the kids over the last year puts me in a great position of privilege.

When we spend time thinking of gaps in our own lives, zooming in with a focus on what others have which we may want, we do not often reflect on the path others have had to choose because of things outside of their control. The last few months have shone a light for me on that; I had the most wonderful father, I strive to be that to my kids but what of those who have the same will, ambition and passion but do not get that chance to live it?

I am talking here about the men we may all know in our everyday lives, the great friends, the comforting uncles and the considerate cousins who have not had the chance to transition their kind natures into being fathers, or who are unable to, for any number of reasons, become fathers or who have suffered the indescribably crushing loss of a child?

When I mention privilege in this context, I am not referring to some sort of undeserved luxury. The privilege I have is that I got to have a father when I was growing up. Someone to model myself on, someone to learn from, someone whose experiences and advice I cling on to and long for some 16 years after his passing. My privilege extends to being an abbu myself to two, teaching them, loving them, laughing with them, trying to show them a better way, taking on board when they show me a better way. I am so lucky that on Father’s Day, I will be marked in some way. I was so fortunate that I had 27 Father’s Days as a son to mark my own dad.

From me to them, thank you....

That is all privilege because many of us take these moments for granted. But alongside millions of us are the few; the few that lost their fathers at a young age, the few who cannot be fathers or who lost a baby. Time is showing me that these amazing people need to championed as well because I do not think you have to be a biological father to be a fulfilling father figure to someone.

I lost someone very close to me towards the end of last year. He was an inspiration not just to me, but to so many who came into his company. People regularly turned to him for his sage advice. I know I did, a lot. Whether it was when my abbu was diagnosed with cancer and passed, or when I was getting married, even when having kids of my own. I was not the only one. That he was not father on paper should not mean the role he played in making others better people should not be recognised. He was in every sense a ‘father figure’. Comforting, yet strong. Generous in every way. Firm, strong willed but warningly approachable.

A few months ago, three different friends reached out to let me know they were each expecting their first child. Each in their own way excited with the anticipation. By the grace of Allah, two of them have happy, healthy children and will be coming into Father’s Day 2024 as brand-new dads. But, what of the other who lost theirs close to the due date? Their Father’s Day will be marked with sadness, grief and if only. But he was ready to be that dad; the one there for his son, the ideal, arms wide open to show him the world.

I have thought of him and what he and his wife will be going through pretty much every day of late, but I cannot put myself in his shoes and wonder what Father’s Day will be like. But what I can do is acknowledge and remind him that not being able to hold his son in this moment does not make him any less of a dad; the love he will always have for a child he did not get to see grow will see him through.

Three years ago, a friend told me the devastating news that his teenage son had cancer. Last year, the family had to come to terms with the loss of the boy who for 15 years had been the life and soul of their house. This will be his first Father’s Day without someone there to tell my friend how amazing he is as a father. Except, there will be. I and others will make sure we do, because we saw a man do absolutely everything, he could to give his boy even one more minute of life.

Going back to my privilege, the context I think about it in now is based on the three journeys I talk about above. I get to tell my kids I love them every day, even when I feel pushed close to wondering where I have gone wrong in their nurturing. I get to feel their love. I have learned that I should not be taking this feeling for granted, because I have seen and felt over the last year those who will not get to and in none of the instances down to any choice, they themselves have made.

There are many other stories like those, loss or circumstance, meaning men who are fathers in spirit are unable to directly pass down their love. But on this Father’s Day, I want all of them to know that whether they are aware of it or not, their journeys have impacted those around them, creating their legacies that others can and will pass down.

On this Father’s Day, reaching out to just one man who may be quietly suffering and letting them know you are thinking of them can be so impactful to them. Father’s Day can become a day where we celebrate not only the wonderful dads out there but also those with a father-spirit, who support the growth of those around them, who invest like a parent without the prospect of a return. These father-figures are a key albeit silent cog in the functioning of our society. From me to them, thank you.

Naveed Khan is a passionate writer and a lawyer by profession, based in London.