SADRUDIN DEVANI: A FATHER'S DAY STORY
On April 5 of this year, our Co-Founders Afshin and Alkarim Devani lost their father Sadrudin Devani at the age of 75. The RNDSQR team knew Sadrudin as Papa. He would come in and visit every now and then to see what we were all up to.
A devastating time for the Devani’s and those within their community, everyone came together to attend his celebration of life. As a tribute to Father’s Day last weekend, Alkarim is sharing his parent’s story and how it has greatly impacted his life and work.
"This is the background of our family’s generational history upon which the foundation of our company has been built.
Sharing our personal story has always been a challenge for my brother Afshin and I as we strongly believe it is our team’s collective journey that has carried us to the present and will drive our future. We think it is important to pay homage to how we got here and why we do what we do.
Last week, we lost our father Sadrudin Devani at the age of 75 quite suddenly and unexpectedly. Our mom, Yasmin, passed eight years ago. The loss of our parents has left a large void in our lives. Waking up this week and getting back to work has been incredibly difficult. Their story is our foundation and has made us who we are, and we feel it’s important to share this with you.
My mom and dad were born in the small towns of Lohdika and Porbander Gujarat in India. My dad was the second youngest brother of six children, my mom the second youngest of seven children. My parents had no high school education.
As a teenager, my dad left India to go and work with his brother in Kensasa, Congo. Years later he returned to India and married my mom, after which they immediately moved to Africa to live. It was an arranged marriage. My mom was extremely upset as she didn’t want to marry or leave her family.
In the 70’s during the Idi Amin rule of Uganda it became very dangerous for South Asian's throughout Africa. In 1973, under the direction of the Aga Khan, my parents fled with their only child to Canada, hoping for a better life.
They arrived in Montreal and stayed a few months as my dad spoke some French. Hearing news of jobs in Calgary, my parents immediately flew to Calgary and rented an apartment downtown. My dad worked at the CP Rail shop in Ogden for a salary of about $4.00 an hour while my mom had an evening job cleaning in a hotel so that she could look after her two-year-old son during the day.
A few months after arriving in Calgary, my parents received the devastating news that their young son had cancer. My mom spoke no English, but she learned how to use the transit system to travel to and from the hospital, where she was told things about her son's health she did not understand. A year later, my parents lost their only child to cancer in a new foreign country.
My mom’s family was in India and this loss took a tremendous toll on her. My dad’s family lived in Calgary and he continued to work and provide for them the best he knew how. “Working with no words” was a motto my dad lived by and learned through the Ismaili, Muslim community.
In 1976, my brother Afshin was born. My dad continued to work and eventually my mom got a second job working in a kitchen. In 1979, my brother Zamil was born with a congenital heart disease. My parents were once again told their son would not likely live past early childhood years. My mom was not ready to lose another son. This time she didn’t. Zamil was a miracle child who survived multiple open-heart surgeries and spent most of his early years in hospitals. During this time, I was born in 1983.
My parents rented homes in Marlborough and Dover. Eventually saving enough money to buy their first home in Penbrook Meadows. Later, my mom opened a successful catering business which she managed out of our house.
Every day, my dad would get up and go to his day job waking up at 6:00 in the morning and getting home at 4:00 in the afternoon. I remember him getting up so early; filling his thermos and sometimes packing food to share with the whole crew. When he came home, he would eat and help my mom run the catering business and prepare to go to Khane (our mosque) to sell food. They would serve food to thousands of people in our community. My mom and dad loved to serve others. It’s truly for that they lived.
My parents represent the values of strength, determination and work ethic that many immigrants and refugees bring to the cultural fabric of our country and city. My brothers and I are so grateful for all that my parents sacrificed. As I sit here now I can’t help but imagine how proud they would be for what they helped build.
This is why the location of our newest development, the David D. Oughton site in Calgary’s Southeast, holds a special place in our hearts. We grew up in these communities. We swam at the Bobham pool with my mom, skated at Rollerland, and went to Ismaili events. My brothers bought their first bikes through B&P Cycle and for over 20 years my dad got his fade from Ted at Brotherz Kutz. It’s come full circle and we believe everything happens for a reason. The revitalization of International Avenue has long been coming. It’s a gem with its fabric a cultural mosaic of the world’s culture, right here in our own city, which is truly a reflection of this beautiful country.
RNDSQR is about much more than homes, as we have always said. It’s about building a better city with a stronger cultural fabric and community. It’s about finding ways to make people’s lives better through sustainable practices and maximizing daily collision points. We believe through purposeful and intentional connections of all demographics we can help improve the quality of life for Calgarians and eventually all Canadians.
Thank you to our parents and the many people who took chances on our family and helped us along the way. My parents were involved in the community because they believed in giving back and more importantly, they saw the value in personal connections. I found my parent’s citizenship letter from 1978 in the box of items my dad liked to keep. The Honourable John Roberts former Secretary of State wrote, 'May the future hold for you a full measure of the happiness which is Canada'. I think it did for my parents. It changed their lives and continues to change the course of Afshin’s and my life every day."