Syrian-American Father Jandali Speaks of Son Steve
Abdul Fattah Jandali is still struggling mentally to cope with the loss of his son but the media won't leave him in peace.
Jandali is just an ordinary American trying to get on with his life, but he was the biological father of an extraordinary human being — Steve Jobs.
The relationship between father and son has been seeped in tragedy and controversy. It all makes for a very good story and quite naturally the media are trying their best to exploit it, at the expense of Jandali's peace of mind.
"I receive hundreds of emails, texts and phone calls every day from the media all over the world and from people who I have never heard about. They all want to ask me about my relationship with Steve," said Jandali, speaking to the Gulf News in a telephone interview from Las Vegas in Nevada, US.
The father's heart is, however, weighed down with sorrow at the loss of his son, to him just an ordinary human being and not the Steve Jobs the world revered. In between the time he spends mourning he also fights desperately for his privacy.
"I'm really upset at how the media are invading my life and interfering in all my issues. I know that Steve was famous to the world, but for me he is just my son. Steve is dead now, may his soul rest in peace. I pray that Almighty Allah forgives him," Jandali said.
Jandali, who is currently working as a vice president and general manager for Pinnacle Entertainment in Reno, was born in 1934 in the city of Homs in Syria, and was a professor of political science. He has reached a point where he does not wish to discuss the personal issue of his son any more. He has run out of emotions and stories to tell.
"People constantly contact me to ask about Steve. The media even quote me without actually bothering to talk to me," he stated.
One such instance occurred when Jandali asserted he was contacted by a well known newspaper from the UK who phoned to interview him about his relationship with Steve. They later published an interview without his knowledge and consent.
"I recently received a phone call from London and I did not know who I was speaking to. They asked me about my son while recording my phone call without informing me. They later printed the entire conversation in the newspaper," he said.
"The reporter assured me that some parts of the conversation would be off the record and I asked him not to publish certain things as I do not want to talk [about] certain issues regarding Steve any more. I was shocked to learn later that my answers were recorded and the entire interview published.
No one feels the way I feel about my son. Steve is my son and I did not intend to abandon him. I was a victim of circumstances. All I can say now is that God bless his soul.
All I am left now is with an incredible sadness."
Disillusioned by the treatment at the hands of the media Jandali decided not to address the media on any personal issues until he gave this interview on Wednesday.
The Arab origins of Steve Jobs, an icon who strode like a colossus in the world of technology, came to light a few years ago. Jobs was the biological child — born out of wedlock — of Syrian national Abdul Fattah Jandali and Joanne Schieble.
Jandali, who came from a wealthy Syrian family of landowners, was studying for a PhD in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin. It was here he met Job's mother. In their early 20s at that time the couple broke up as Jandali could not face a conservative society back home in Syria with the presentation of an illegitimate child. The mother offered her son up for adoption but later the couple got together once again and married.
Joanne then gave birth to a daughter Mona. Their happiness was, however, shortlived. The couple divorced after a few years. Joanne remarried and her daughter became Mona Jandali-Simpson. She went on to be a successful novelist.
Steve Jobs knew that he was an adopted child. He knew who his parents were. In many ways his actions later in life mirrored that of his father. In 1978, Jobs had a daughter out of wedlock with budding painter Chris-Ann Brennan. The daughter was named Lisa Brennan Jobs. Jobs was in college at that time and initially denied fathering the child, claiming he was sterile, but later admitting paternity.
Jobs died earlier this month of pancreatic cancer, leaving behind his wife Laurenne Powell and four children.
Speaking in a thick Homsi accent Jandali revealed that he had visited his home in Syria 20 years ago.
All plans for another visit have, however, been shelved given the internal unrest there. "Syrians are being treated terribly back home," he said. "If I went back I could be questioned because I happen to be an American national. So I have decided not to go for now."
Jandali had also visited Lebanon a few years ago and met many of his relatives in Lebanon. He is now planning a visit to Dubai in the near future.
By Bassma Al Jandaly