For the truest of my friends; Nadir Ali Khan…
Revisiting the past
I always loved the summer rain. It gave me a sweet sensation and calmed me immaculately whenever it would rain in the summers. Sometimes during the summers it would rain with the sun still partially out, which is always to me a scene to behold. While rains are mostly dull to the eye, the scenery goes grey in both colour and nature, whereas, the summer rain had a somewhat brighter livelier note to it. I used to call it- the golden rain. I was walking past a small park, as it started to drizzle, and it seemed the children playing in the park had gotten joyous at this sudden surprise. As the rain got busier people started looking for shelter whereas, the children started to get more cheerful. Childhood is an amazing thing, I thought, when one is carefree and has an eye for the subtlety of life’s little joys. What happens to that as one grows is a strange occurrence. Likes change and so do preferences and priorities and that normally renders one incapable of having the beautiful soul anymore- the soul of a child. Three girls stood closely and held each others’ hands tightly in a circular formation and threw their heads back looking upwards in the sky and started to revolve anti-clockwise. The rain was falling on their cheeks and they were singing a song, which I could recall I had heard before. Although I had no recollection of what the lyrics were or where had I heard that song, I could still hum it. The singing girls in their colourful frocks and tops looked like a large dew filled flower blooming in the summer rain.
And there I was. I kept walking as I had a meeting to catch in late afternoon that day for which I hadn’t prepared. I started walking faster as the thought of my meeting came to me. I also had to pick up my kids from school before going for the meeting. And suddenly the thoughts of my adult indulgences got sharper in my mind. I suddenly had no interest in the summer rain and hoped it would stop soon so I could reach back to my office without looking like a soaking wretched man. That would do no good to my meeting. I suddenly realised I needed to move faster. Absorbed in my thoughts, I started moving very fast and collided with a lamp-post. I stopped and looked at the lamp-post, which to my sheer amazement, was smiling at me. And then suddenly it leaned towards me and slowly whispered in my ears, ‘it is time for school.’
I opened up my eyes and saw my mom leaning on me, smiling and asking me to wake up with a gentle voice, the voice which has always had the power to put me to sound sleep casting all my troubles away. The unmistakable melody, the symphony of which, I may never forget. I narrated to her my dream while getting up and getting ready for school. She laughed and said, ‘this just means you have had a good night’s sleep.’ But I wasn’t sure because the dream had looked so real that I found it very hard not to take it as if it were the reality. I said to my mom, ‘I still think I have a meeting to attend and pick up my kids from school.’ She laughed out loud, caressed her fingers in my hair and said, ‘you have been spending time with your father. This is just because of that.’ She was a simple woman, my mom. She was very neat in her manners. she would dread the state of my clothes when I returned from school and the sight of my room the next morning. She would do her best to tidy me up and I always went neat, clean and tidy to school due to her perfectionism and always found my room anew upon return. And this would happen on a daily basis, repeatedly, without a pause. I never saw her complaining about the routine or ever getting bored of it.
The horn of the van honked and I rushed outside to go to school. I kept wondering about my dream throughout the way as I really did enjoy looking at myself as a grown man. I hated school sometimes and wanted to grow up fast and do the real practical things in life, make decisions, be independent and the master of my own destiny. I could not wait for that time and that dream had shown me a part of it and that thought overjoyed me throughout the drive to the school. I entered the school from the gate that was adjacent to a military stable. It was a very cold morning of early January and I was in my winter uniform. I saw my friend Nadir going past the main pathway and I exclaimed with joy, ‘Oye! Nadir listen…’ Nadir turned back and greeted me with his usual smile, a distinctive smile that needed only the left side of his lips to be accomplished. ‘Hi’ he said, ‘good to see you.’ I quickly narrated to him my dream and this time he had a full smile on his lips. He said, ‘you must have seen a movie before going to sleep. This happens to me every time and almost every night.’ And he was right. He was a big fan of the movies and had seen almost every film that was out there to be seen. I always wondered that he will either become a renowned actor or else an established film maker.
Nadir was a boy of my age with a very pleasant and quite an agreeable personality. A boy of normal height and innocent yet prominent features. He had short, brown roughed-up hair that looked a lighter touch of brown under the sunlight. His eyes were deeply engraved on his face and behind his brows, which gave prominence to his rather long nose. His eyes were blue but they had always looked green to me whenever I saw him. ‘Blue you idiot, blue’ he would say and I would stare at him for a few moments and say, ‘Nah! Green.’ He was a fair skinned boy who always had trouble opening his eyes completely under the sunlight. He still fails to do so. Whenever he would be in the sun he always had to put up some effort in keeping his eyes open. We had some time before the morning assembly so we went to the main ground and took a walk. We used to keep our bags tucked under the old oak near the football post, that is what we did today too, and strode away crushing the dew drops under our feet. It was such a fresh morning. He had a rather unique and genuinely carefree manner of walking too, I remember, he did not keep his shoulders straight while walking, instead he would rather lean on the right side keeping the left shoulder above the other. And he had a noticeable inward bent towards his belly in his posture.
We walked and reached the rear end of the ground and sat there under the trees talking about our math class. I still remember that it was a clear chilly but sunny day and Nadir had his eyes half closed all the time. I saw a couple of birds flying in the air and thought how free they are. Free to roam and free to live. I wanted to be life that. I ran my fingers across the grass and felt the cold freshness of dew in it, as some broken grass sprinkled here and there with the wave of my hand. All I was thinking about was to grow up soon and be a man to escape this childhood and be able to do things on my own.
I opened my eyes and all I could see was a dark hollow vacuum and all I could hear was my own heavy breath and the sensation of the heavily beating heart. As my eyes got accustomed to the darkness I could now see my surroundings and noticed I was lying in my bed. the door slammed open and my 6 years old son came in and complained that I had missed picking him up and that he had come home with his grand-dad. ‘My meeting’ I shouted and looked at my watch. Luckily there was still time for me to catch on with it. I had been dreaming. The first dream was actually my subconscious reminding me of my adult life responsibilities because of the pressure those create on the mind thereby causing stress, fatigue and anxiety at times. The second one, well I was glad after waking up that I had had that dream.
Realising a Revelation
It was through that dream that I had a chance to revisit myself in my early days at school and I, for the first time, realised that there always are things that one leave behind in the past. It takes one to revisit oneself in the past in order to realise that part of life and the beauty of those things and feelings and emotions. The busy adult life does not leave you to see the simplistic beauty of life in grass, or an old tree or the chirping of the birds. A person tends to have pressures, deadlines and other things having responsibility. While I do not contest that that should not be the case, however, I do have a reason to believe now particularly after my dream that man runs after success and fame and what not thinking ease would give him satisfaction and peace and relaxation. Whereas, that lies in small things in life- the object of man has always been the refinement of the soul and not material. However, we have become materialistic in our manners and always want ‘to have’ forgetting that the main object of life lies in ‘to be.’
Wilde was right, while defending individualism, that the accumulation of property is not the real aim but it is the refinement of the soul. To him the development of personality is the main aim and he considered that a personality, when developed completely, may only resemble the personality of a child. This is quite interesting in a sense that we move on from being a child to a man at the expense of the corruption of the soul. If we are to refine our personality or soul to the best level it may only be achieved when one becomes a child again in the adult life. For a child knows no filth, lust, egotism, jealousy for the child only knows kindness, sympathy, forgiveness and unconditional love.
If one opens the eyes of the heart one might not find joy in property, bank balance and other things material but perhaps in simple things in life. In the golden rain, in the large girl-flower, in the affection of a mother and in true friendship, which is meaningless yet meaningful at the same time. So why this rush why this longing for material- it is indeed the nourishment of the intellectual personality that yields fruit at the end of the day. Once that is achieved, one might only take pleasure in simple things in life.
I escaped being a child to grow in to a man only to realise that my challenge then was to get back to be a child. As ironic as it may sound, this is what life has always been all about.