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Mashud and Shamsul

An older man, sat on his sofa smiling at the camera

"I am very proud of my children – their success is my success – and I share their joys."

Mashud and his son Shamsul discuss their lives and their relationship over the years.

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Mashud, 83, lives in Bradford. Although he likes to stay busy, visiting his local mosque daily, he has experienced loneliness and therefore enjoys his regular telephone friendship calls. Here Mashud and his son, Shamsul, discuss memories, fatherhood, ageing and faith.

Mashud

“My own father led a very busy life. He was very present, but not always close by because of his work. But I could feel the love that he had for all of his seven children. He met all of my needs – when I needed advice from him it was easily available; and if I had any financial difficulties he was very generous.

“The qualities I got from my father were to be honest. He would always say to me that I shouldn’t ever tell a lie, but I don’t think I’ve been able to follow that 100%.

“My father was on the management committee of his local mosque, and when he came back from work I’d watch him do his prayers at home and read his Quran. He encouraged us to acquire religious knowledge, so taught me how to read the Quran, but to be honest I wasn’t very good at it then and would always find an excuse to do something else, then disappear. I have made up for it since I retired, though. I remember my father fondly and I remember my parents always. In fact, I pray for them every day.

“The relationship between my children and me is very close. There were difficulties when I got divorced, but over the years I have made close contact with them. My daughter doesn’t live very far from me, about 15 miles away, so I see her pretty often. My son, Shamsul, works more than 100 miles away, so that’s where he lives. We get in touch by telephone and via social media. I am very proud of my children – their success is my success – and I share their joys.

“I am a grandfather three times over – my daughter has a boy and a girl, and my son has a daughter. I am always delighted to see my grandchildren. When we come together as a family, there’s a lot of food to be eaten, which is always an enjoyable thing to do together. My cooking is pretty awful, I don’t like it, but I can boil an egg. I’m pretty lucky as Bradford has some very nice restaurants – I like to have curries and Turkish food.

I live on my own now, so I have a desire for more contact. Everybody has their own lives to lead, though.

Mashud

“Life has been kind to me and it has been enjoyable. I live on my own now, so I have a desire for more contact. Everybody has their own lives to lead, though. If I can do something myself, I try to do it, so I can be self-sufficient.

“My religion has become very important to me. My faith saw me through the bad days of my separation, so it has been a great consolation to have something to hang on to. I visit the mosque regularly and meet people. Since my youth, I have been involved with voluntary work. I’m involved with local committee organisations, seeking help from them and giving help to them. I get a great deal of satisfaction from them.

“I knew that I felt a bit lonely and I wanted a human being at the other end of the phone to give me a bit of break in my loneliness. So I contacted Age UK knowing full well that Age UK works for mature people. So that's how I got the ball rolling and then soon enough somebody from Age UK rang me. And then I got my telephone friend, Emma, who rings me every Sunday without fail.

“She likes walking and I tell her my sorrows for not being able to be as mobile as I used to. After 10 steps I have to stop to catch my breath.

“The calls make me less lonely. They make me happy for the 30 odd minutes that I have on the phone. And when I dry up, she coaxes me into putting words to the conversation, so she's very good and patient.”

Shamsul

“I remember going exploring with my dad. There’d be wrestling and a little bit of football, but he wasn’t one of those dads who’d take you to football matches or stuff like that. He’s still of the opinion that men and boys don’t cry, which I think he got from his upbringing.

A man and his older father, posing for a photograph
Shamsul and Mashud together
A man and his older father, posing for a photograph
Shamsul and Mashud together

“My parents got divorced when I was 12 and our relationship did change then, but he never changed from being my dad. We’d see him every weekend. My dad has always loved bargains, so we’d go to car boot sales, shopping for good deals.

“We didn’t really go on holiday much, but I do remember a trip to north Wales when I was very small where it rained and we hired a very small car that leaked. Years later, he helped me pass my driving test and gave me his old car for my 18th birthday. He’s not the world’s best mechanic, though he did put his skills to work to fix it himself. That’s rubbed off on me – I’m not very mechanically-minded but I’ll try my best.

“My dad never really brought work home with him. I remember him working as a careers officer, a role he was made redundant from, which is kind of ironic. He did his bachelors degree in chemical engineering, so it surprised me that he didn’t go into that when he moved over here. Work wasn’t a big thing for him – he saw it as a means to an end. He retired when he was 54-55.

“My dad is really into his computers and is forever on the internet. I had to get him a computer to use at his desk because he was constantly on the floor with his laptop, which was terrible for his back and his wrists.

My dad's not very open with his emotions, but I think he was quietly proud that I went with him, so he was able to show me off to the family.

Shamsul

“He got much deeper into his faith since the divorce, as has my mum, so they both found solace in religion. That’s not for me, though, but he’s never ever thrust religion upon us. I took a trip with him to Bangladesh at the end of November last year. He used to go every year or two but hadn’t been for a while and because he’s getting older, I thought I should accompany him.

“It was an amazing trip and it gave us an additional bond. He’s not very open with his emotions, but I think he was quietly proud that I went with him, so he was able to show me off to the family.

“I have a 13-year-old daughter. He really enjoys the role of grandpa. When we go and see him, he’s always really happy to see my daughter and will embarrass her, but all teenagers get embarrassed by family members. He pays no attention to family politics or the kids playing up – he doesn’t react to it at all, which is great.

I know that it’s difficult for my dad living on his own, especially now he doesn’t get out so much.

Shamsul

“I helped him move into the house that he’s living in now, putting the furniture together and getting to know his neighbours. Since he retired, he’s always been super-active about finding things to do. He spends a lot of time at home but he goes out every single day to the mosque. He relishes that as much for the community aspect and social aspect as the religious side. He would also do hospital visits, where he’d go and chat to patients, which he found as fulfilling as they did.

“He makes regular calls with family in Bangladesh and Canada. He also likes to chide me when I’m not calling him often enough and will end those calls by saying, ‘Don’t leave it so long next time’. I know that it’s difficult for him living on his own, especially now he doesn’t get out so much. One of his older neighbours passed away during COVID, so there aren’t so many neighbours he knows anymore.

“Age UK has made a big difference to my dad. Dad tells me about the conversations he’s had with his telephone friend, which he enjoys very much.”

Become a telephone friend

If you have 30 minutes to spare each week, you could become a telephone friend for someone like Mashud.

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Last updated: Jun 14 2024

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