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Chasing The Wind by Ali Arya

“This is going to be a good day for you,” the wind told him. “Can you smell it?”

The man looked at the trees quietly for a while. “The scent of jasmine reminds me of my childhood.”

It had been a long time since he had smelled that. He was a little boy again, running in the alleyways of the old city with the branches of jasmine trees growing and hanging from behind the walls, giving shade to boys who were tired and sweaty from playing outside on hot summer days. He remembered a girl opening her house door and offering him a glass of cold water. He could see her hair under the loose head scarf. What was that scent? Jasmine.

The wind woke him up.

“Can you smell it?”

He could. Where was that coming from?

There she was, the woman walking out of the woods, with a smile and the sweet scent of jasmine, and offered him a glass of water.

He didn’t know where she came from.

He wasn’t from around here himself.

They both spoke the language of the wind.

They both knew the jasmine tree.

They were not strangers.


“This is going to be a good day for you,” the wind told him. “The birds travelled with me. Aren’t you happy to see them?”

The man looked at the woman walking among the birds, listening to their stories.

When they flew away, she came back with a little bundle in her arms.

The tiny hand grabbed the man’s finger and didn’t let go.

“He has picked you,” the woman said. “You are the favourite.”

“And I will pick him up,” he said. He threw the baby in the air, then held him and showed him to the wind.

The boy laughed.

The wind spread the little boy’s laugh around the house, the town, and the world.


This is going to be a good day for you,” the wind told him.

The little boy was learning to stand on his own.

He raised his arms towards the man.

“Up! Up!”

The man picked up the boy and put him on his shoulders.

The little boy was an airplane flying high in the sky.

“Up! Up!”

The man was holding the boy’s hand.

The little boy was tired of walking in the park.

The man picked him up.

The little boy was a brave knight riding his favourite horse.

“Up! Up!”

“You spoil him,” the woman said.

But she took the shopping bags from the man.

He picked him up.

The boy sang for them while they were shopping.

“Up! Up!”

It was getting dark.

They were close to the end of their hike.

The man picked him up.

The boy slept in his arms.

“Up! Up!”

“He’s too big for that,” the woman said.

“It’s ok,” said the man. “He will carry me some day.”

He leaned and the boy jumped up.

“Fly with the wind,” he said.

He shouldn’t have said that, he told himself later.


“There will be other good days for you,” the wind told him. “I promise.”

The man didn’t listen.

He looked at the tattooed name on the back of his shoulder where the boy used to sit.

He looked at the boy’s empty bed and held the woman’s hand.

“Promise you will find him,” she said. “And bring him back to me.”

“I Promise.”


For seven days and seven nights, the man walked.

“Have you seen my boy?” he asked the kids playing in a field. They hadn’t seen him.

“He had a beautiful smile,” he told the people coming out of an office. But they didn’t know what a smile was.

“He smelled like jasmine,” he told the women in a store. But they didn’t know what jasmine smelled like.

“He could grab and hold my finger,” he told the policeman. But he only grabbed and held his gun.

“He could run but he flew with the wind,” he said to himself. “I have to go where the wind goes.”


For seven weeks, the man walked.

The weeping willow's branches were hanging down touching the surface of the lake. He sat down under the tree’s shade.

“Have you seen my boy?” he asked the tree. “He loves playing in the water.”

The tree knew nothing about the boy.

“My girl loved water too,” the tree said. “She jumped in the lake years ago and hasn’t come out. I have been waiting for her, holding my hand so she can grab. I grew roots and never moved away. I could use some company though.”

“I understand,” the man said. “I can’t stay but I will make a bird feeder on your branch and put seeds in it. Birds will come and keep you company. People will come to see and feed the birds, and they will listen to your story.”

When the man was done, he said goodbye to the tree.

The weeping willow dropped a leaf.

“Thank you for your kindness,” the tree said. “Keep this and plant it to keep you healthy.”


For seven months, the man walked.

The children were feeding birds in a park. The man sat on a bench and watched them.

A bird sat next to him, eating a piece of bread.

“Enjoy your lunch!” the man said.

“I don’t really like people’s food, but it makes the kids happy to feed and play with us. So, we do it.”

“Have you seen my boy?” the man asked. “He would have liked to feed you.”

“No, but I heard about you and your boy from the weeping willow,” the bird said. “Thanks for the bird feeder. People and birds visit the tree all the time now. The willow is not alone, and we are not hungry.”

The man smiled and said nothing.

The bird moved around on the bench and dropped a white feather.

“Take my feather,” the bird said. “If you need help, throw it in the wind. The birds will come to help you.”


For seven years, the man walked.

He was tired but had nowhere to rest.

He was hungry but had nothing to eat.

He was cold but had nothing to wear.

“I could call the birds,” he thought. “But it’s better to keep the feather. I may need it when I find my boy.”

He entered a big city and asked for help.

People asked him questions:

“Do you have the same religion as us?”

He said no.

“Do you have the same skin colour as us?”

He said no.

“Do you have the same clothes as us?”

He said no.

“Do you have a lot of money?”

He said no.

“Then you have to leave,” they told him. “We don’t like you. We don’t want you here.”


The man walked away.

Children were playing in the playground.

Their parents were watching them.

He remembered his son and stopped.

The children asked him:

“Can you throw back our ball?”

He said yes.

“Can you be our referee?”

He said yes.

“Do you like children?”

He said yes.

“Do you play with children?”

He said yes.

“Do you read them stories?”

He said yes.

“Do you know how to spread butter on bread?”

He said yes.

“Do you know how to sword fight with carrots?”

He said yes.

“Do you know how to make a tent with blankets?”

He said yes.

“Do you know how to draw stick figures?”

He said yes.

“Do you help a child put his socks on?”

He said yes.

“Do you hug a child when she is sad?”

He said yes.

“Then you can stay,” they told him. “You are always welcome here.”

The man thanked them.

“But I am looking for my son,” he said. “I have to go.”

“Then take these for your kid,” they said and gave him some marbles. “He can play with them.”

The man thanked them again and said goodbye.

“He may be too old for these now,” he thought. “But he always liked playing with marbles.”


He crossed the seven seas, climbed the mountains, and walked through the deserts.

The walk broke his back, the cold dried his skin, and the sun blinded his eyes. But he kept searching.


“This is going to be a good day for you,” the wind told him.

He didn’t believe it, but he heard the laugh. It sounded familiar.

He walked towards it.

“Up! Up!” a little boy said. Not his child but as sweet.

“Sorry. No one has done that for him in a long time,” said a young woman. “I am sick and carrying another child who is growing fast inside me. He is too heavy for my weak arms.”

The man picked up the little boy and put him on his shoulder.

“Where is his father?”

“Looking for his own parents,” she said. “He was taken away from them when he was a child. We heard from the birds that they were alive and looking for him. He had to go and find them.”

The man asked her husband’s name, but he didn’t have to. He already knew he had found his son’s new family. He was a grandfather now.

“I’ll find your dad for you,” he told his grandson, holding him in his arms.

“Promise?” asked the little boy.

“I promise.”


The man was finally back home.

He found his son under their old jasmine tree. It had dried up in all these years the man was away.

“My mother waited for me,” the young man said.

The man saw the woman, holding their son’s hand. She had aged much in all these years he was away.

“You promised you’d find him,” she said with a smile. “And you did. Our son heard stories about you looking for him. The wind, the birds, the trees, and the kids all spread your words. That’s how he could find his way back home.”

“I will stay and take care of you,” the young man said and put his strong arms around their shoulders.

“Yes,” the man said. “It’s your turn now to pick me up.”

They all laughed.

“But you have to go back to your family,” the woman said.

“That’s right,” the man said. “I promised them I would find you and send you back.”

“Then come with me,” his son said.

“You go with him,” the man said to the woman. “He needs you there. We have a grandchild now and another on the way.”

He gave the leaf, the feather, and the marbles to his son.

“Take these with you for your family. They will bring you health, friends, and happiness.”

Then he looked at the woman.

“I have something to do here first, then I’ll join you. I promise.”

The wind blew and shook the naked branches of the jasmine tree.


His wife was holding a baby girl when the man saw her again.

The little boy ran towards him and held his arms up. The man picked him up and put him on his shoulder.

“Now, we can pick up where we left off,” his wife said. “They say Up! Up! and you carry them. And we have two grandchildren now.”

“Yes,” he said and handed her the vase with jasmine flowers. “The jasmine tree says hi. It’s blooming again.”

The young couple came to welcome him.

“I remember that smell,” the young man said to his wife. “It reminds me of my childhood.”


Somewhere far, the wind spread around the sweet scent of their jasmine tree.

A tired traveler walked towards the tree and paused in front of the empty house to enjoy the shade and the smell.

“This is going to be a good day for you,” the wind told the traveler. “Can you smell it?”

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