It started with Vaishali express, my first time alone journey to Aligarh; for AMU class 11th entrance.
As i entered the room, it was silent. Fan humming. Books everywhere, Shakeel Bhai was in sleep, with nice clothings, shoes laced properly. I was in hurry to go back Muslim Musafirkhana, what my father instructed me to do so. That was the only place i knew in Aligarh, as i was there in 1998.
“So, why you want to stay at Musafirkhana?” asked Shakeel bhai, with tenderness. I said i do not know any other place in Aligarh. He smiled at my innocence and asked me to be with him. I readily accepted as this allowed me to save money for accomodation. Adil accompanied me. Little i knew about Shakeel bhai that he is in B.Tech 2nd year. I was quite impressed with him. The kind of affection, help, he showed was very genuine.
In morning breakfast outside saifi hotel lawn. Adil, me, Arshad (Milton), were having aaloo paratha with the chutney. We talked about so many things. I was very shy, never had an eye contact with him. I was at good place. The undisclosed guidance was something i will never forget.
Evening classes and quadratic equations. This was more inspiration than the learning. I was in the spell of Physics and Mathematics. I never saw someone like Shakeel Bhai, so knowledgeable, so kind, so polite.
“Your brother looks exactly like you”, asked one of the student of MBBS entrance examination. I went on to clarify, i was not the relative, but Shakeel Bhai stopped in between as he knew what i was up to. “He is my brother”, he said with smile. I felt proud, very close to someone, i started making my role model.
Saifi Hostel, room number 62. Each morning was different. It start with the student’s noise, shaving, breakfast, library reading room, endless chats, evening class. The charm of Shakeel bhai was, what made me feel like i am not alone, he cares.
I started following his footsteps. I wanted to be like him, his style, smile, voice. He was very genuine one.
=============================== 10 Years Later ============================
He was on his bed, very weak. As i said Salam, he waved his hands with the same passion and greeted. With oxygen mask, this was hard to recognise the sinking eyes, the same glitter. I felt crying. Why this happens to good people? Why Good People perish more? He was like Angel, what made him to be like that.
I came home with sorrow. I prayed in Esha Salah for Shakeel Bhai’s good health.
This was not over few months, i heared he expired. Inna-lillahe-wa-inna-alihe-rajeoon. May Allah bring peace to his soul, and get him in Jannat-ul-firdose. He was a great man indeed. In centuries, i think people like him come. This is very rare for this unfortunate coming generation to meet people like Shakeel Bhai.
For his little Son Taha : Dear Son, your father was like no one else. He was a man of his caliber. He was a hero, a true hero, who took pain for others. He never made any person feel alone around him. I do not know the internal family circumstances, but i felt, he became alone at the end. May be he didnt get the family support. Each time i remember his face, i sink deep, in memories, where he still lives with me. You must feel proud, as i feel. I am not in his direct relation, but he is more than any other relatives to me. I wish you to be like him.