I have no qualms in admitting that often, I am a scared child.
But what a scared child also knows, is how to become not a scared child anymore. Whenever I am, I close my eyes, letting my mind wander to a red house set amidst the greenest green. My mind rocks to the gentle wind that makes the littlest noise passing through the yellow leaves that pave the path. My eyes will search for the ancient gramophone, with enough youth still in it to turn me one more soulful ballad.
Then with the light breeze drying the tears on my cheeks, I think about the ‘Gentle Breeze’ in my life, my local guardian angel, my Nazeem uncle.
Much before I saw him, I had his picture in my minds eye, painted on by stories my father told me about. When we met, not surprisingly, the picture was more accurate than not. He smiled. He was thin. His eyes shined. He spoke with a rhythm to his voice, waving his fingers, conducting the phantom opera.
When I went away from home for my first long spell of solitude in a military hostel, I was not alone. I had him a loud call away. He was my local guardian angel. What he was, was also my school’s favourite neighborhood singer. I still remember me, sitting enthralled in the auditorium, listening to life, in beautiful musical notes.
Misfortune never bothered him. He faced them with a song on his lips. When it took away his music from his lips, he fought back by gently tapping his left fingers, in tune with the music in his heart. He never gave up, and he taught me his life.
Two thousand miles away from me, I can feel his heart beat, in tune to the musical notes inside. Two thousand miles away from me, I can feel his gentle defiance, at fate which played a game of dice. Two thousand miles away from me, I can feel the strength of determination emanating from the body, made frail by the forces bigger than man.
If he is half the person I know he is, he will be home to greet me with a song in his heart and a smile on his lips. After all, he was the person who taught me that a ‘Gentle Breeze’ can also mean M.S Nazeem…