“I should go…”, still seated, he pauses for a moment, looks towards the people walking in and out, almost as if he expects to see Usama among them, then finding him in a unique Usama-story or fond memory, he turns back to tell me all about it. He needed to talk about you, and I needed to listen and remember you and mirror the conservative smile lightening his sad grey face. It felt like we were two survivalists huddling around our memories of you to keep warm. The somber arrangements were very fitting of your stature, but they were too contradictorily dark to your generally buoyant nature. We missed you and we needed to bring you back through your stories.
It was natural that you were thus the hero of our stories, but what quickly emerged was that you were a hero in each of the stories. Calming one crisis with absolute logic, or wittily restoring dignity in another; deflecting our irrationality with kind humour, and encouraging us instead to colour outside the line and look at it all a little differently. When my brother first met you and asked what it was that you did, your spontaneous response was “I play”, and that’s how you made everything seem. I always thought I’d arrived on the scene too late to have had stories with you, but as I started to cling on to what my memory contained of you, I was happy to find that there were a few there… What I will hold on to most avidly is that excited feeling in the last few minutes as I would be approaching your house, when the same thought always came to my mind: “I wonder what Usama will be teaching me today…” Any day that revived my anticipation of wonder and reminded me just how vast the world was, was a good day.
I will miss you, Usama.