people with wings

Its always about the hero; that  magnanimous figure emanating light like an angelic apparition. In the exuberant world of fiction, sidekicks are faithful buddies dressed in silly clothes; usually skilled at blending seamlessly into the background while occasionally tossing golden nuggets of advice for the hero to ponder over. Who would have thought that Batman would get along so well with a meek little Robin; or that Sherlock Holmes would share such an interesting bond without the ever skeptical Dr. Watson. Yet, its always about the hero.

In the real world, things are not too different. The persona attached with a hero is almost an unreal one. Marvel comics might single-handedly be responsible for distorting our image of the hero forever. Normal humans tend to fall short by most standards. In reality, sidekicks sometimes befall an even more regretful fate. Walt Disney had Ub Iwerks, his oldest and closest buddy and the actual wizard behind the creation of Mickey Mouse. Yet whoever heard of him?  Similarly, Octave Chanute’s aviation designs were the inspiration for Write brothers’ glider designs. Octave generously helped them throughout this venture and was sidestepped as soon as they became self sufficient. (source). These are just a few of the many people history’s pages so conveniently forgot.

If fame were a mortal, it would be an extremely self-centered one. In its realm, there is always someone willing to forgo levels of ethical and moral decency for some intoxicating slice of fame. Two is almost always a crowd. However it is not always as disagreeable as it may sound. Many such people prefer sitting snug in the background. They do not need people creating a hullabaloo over their achievements. Whether the star attraction or the humble wise companion, their victory song is solely for their own ears.
Sometimes it does not matter if a person`s existence is shrouded by anonymity because it is not everlasting. As luck would have it, some might get plucked from a torrent of millions for no obvious reason simply to embark on fame`s notorious adventure. Sometimes its alright to be fate’s loyal sidekick. Its like a game of spin the bottle where destiny’s bottle points at you no matter what and within moments you miraculously emerge from obscurity; albeit for a fleeting moment. One such individual was Bashir Ahmed Sarban, a camel-cart driver surviving in the slums of Karachi, whose story I was introduced to just recently. In 1961, life completely changed for Bashir; destitute with a thriving mustache;illiterate with a talent of adorning his speech with delightful aphorisms. During Lyndon B Johnson’s (US Vice President) visit to Karachi, he noticed a camel and its owner sticking out from a cheering crowd as his motorcade was driving to the guest house. Out of goodwill, he stopped and went to meet the camel and its owner. “Come meet me”, was what he said to Bashir during their short conversation. Soon after, all was forgotten until a Pakistani newspaper published something about Bashir’s good fortune of how he would visit the US as the President’s guest. This  spread like wildfire and after much effort, Bashir traveled all the way to the US. When he came back, his life did not change much in terms of his financial condition as many would assume. Yet he became a downright celebrity, with people flocking to him like fish on bait. “People will not leave my life alone. They eat my life up”, was what he said when popularity took its toll on him. To the people of his community, he was their hero. The little kids in the slums looked at him with awe, almost as if he had wings. Every time some curious reader stumbles upon Bashir’s chronicles of passing fame; or when a little girl`s grandfather shares a heartwarming tale how magnanimous life can be, Bashir Ahmed Sarban`s name will surely live on.
Then there was Malala Yousafzai, a teenage women rights activist from a small city called Mingora (northwestern Pakistan). She had dreams as big as the universe. And when you have such high aspirations, everything just seems to fall into place, no matter how treacherous the yellow brick road. She survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban and became one of the most influential people of 2013. The way her life spiraled from complete abyss to skies of immortality, surpasses all things heroic. Malala will remain a symbol of hope and magic for any child who yearns to break out of archaic norms of ignorant societies.
Countless other people have lived to do extraordinary things but their untold tales have been swept away like life after tsunami. Similar to stars, every atom of their existence collides together to produce an endless array of energy in the form of inspiration, courage and immortality. These people have proved that no matter how ordinary a person may be, true worth is judged by actions and intentions. As long as you are true to your own self without fretting over shallow recognition, your moment to shine will surely come in its own right time. And yes, its always about the heroes; real life heroes.
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?”
Rumi
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2 thoughts on “people with wings

  1. Well that’s some article Nida! It speaks your excellent grip on the unique subject & the command on language ……… You surprise me. Though too young, I vividly remember the time as far back as 1961 when Bashir Sarbaan came to limelight ……. as if with the wings.

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