Almost 17 years ago life brought me face to face with a fresh faced youth. A youth with passion in his eyes and fire in his belly to become someone. Some might say it is like that when you are young and naive. True, those were times when life was a lot simpler the grey was a thin line dividing the black and white, cynicism had not yet permeated existence and yes the world was our oyster.
Albeit, there was something different about this youth, maybe it was the laid back attitude that reflected his quiet self assurance or maybe it was the quick wit that left many spell bound and speechless. Or maybe it was his deeply analytical yet highly accurate ability to know what people were talking about.
Although we met for work – the lines between professional and personal were very blurred back then. Work was personal and colleagues became family as time progressed. Maybe it was the openmindedness that led to forming friendships that have stood the test of time. Whatever it was I am glad events unfolded as they did.
Our first meeting introduced me to another lifelong friend, about him another time. Astoundingly I noticed that this youth understood not only my naivety but also my fears of the unknown. Things I now find simple were a lot more monumental and complex back then. I was explained over lunch what I was expected to do, I suppose my enthusiasm far outweighed my ability to get the job done. My eagerness to get going got me on the team.
That was the first assignment where I was on own. As exciting as independence was the flip side was greater responsibility. Stricking a balance between the stress and excitement is still something I graple with everyday.
We were travelling for work and they say you find out about people only when you are living with them. I learnt that behind the passionate eyes lied a humble soul. A soul that wanted to help, to understand and to get things done.
Over the years we became accustomed to the arm over the chair whilst talking or the backward tilting head nod together with the “haan bhai” but what remained unnoticed was how he brought people together by using social gatherings as an excuse to bring now families together. Yes many including him got married and had offspring. Yet the excitement never left the eyes, despite the responsibilities life was stil lived on his terms.
I guess these words or any for that matter will never be able to fully reflect the person that was Naeem but I suppose they serve as a reminder to all of us to possibly tell the people that mean something to us what they mean to us before the regrets of leaving things unsaid start compounding. We cannot bring Naeem back but we can always remember him and his family in our prayers.