I first heard him while walking down a busy street. Quickly I retraced my steps to the doorway of a tiny shop. The man at the counter gave me a disinterested look which turned to one of servile fawning when I bought the whole set of music sung by the man who could be heard from the blaring speakers, the one that pulled me back while walking past.
That night I didn’t sleep. I played the songs, some of them over and over again, till finally exhausted I fell asleep somewhere at dawn. In the days that followed I snatched up anything I could find on him, newspaper articles, gossip in film magazines. I watched youtube videos of his songs, live shows, his wedding with a beautiful star.
It was not just curiosity that pushed me. For reasons I knew not, I was enamoured, obsessed might be a better word. His songs played in my ears even when I was not listening to them. I heard them in my sleep. Something about him, an earnest innocence in a rugged exterior made the songs all the more special.
By the end of the week, I was an authority on him, a walking encyclopedia though I still did not understand what he was singing about in the songs I had come to love so much sung in a little known language foreign to me.
So imagine my surprise when I looked up from buckling my seatbelt to find him seating himself next to me. I stared, my jaw hanging slack, till he flashed that innocent smile of his and said ‘Hi!’ bringing me back to my senses.
“Hi!” I responded self consciously. My voice came out like a squeak. I cleared my throat and tried again. “I am a huge fan!” I was hoping he knew English. I blurted out the names of a few favorites and he grinned. I suppose he gets to hear this sort of thing quite a lot. What made me any special? I sighed.
He drummed his fingers on the seatrest and smiling at me, hummed a few lines from one of my favorite songs. I was ecstatic. “Please sing the song,” I begged him.
And he sang.
The chatter around us stopped. The whole flight fell silent. Someone banging shut the overhead luggage rack was shushed by someone else. Even the crew stopped whatever they were doing to listen to him. My joy knew no bounds. But I hated the sound that intruded into his singing, the sharp whistle.
I turned to look at the offender. It was a member of the crew. She had a whistle hanging on a cord around her neck and was blowing into it for all she was worth, not even pausing for breath. Louder and louder it rose, eclipsing the song and more than that boring into my sensitive ears. “Stop it!” I screamed, unlocking the seat belt and jumping up from where I was seated.
I opened my eyes to a ceiling with wooden beams. The overhead fan had a thick layer of dust sticking to its blades. The iPod was still plugged into my ears and playing my favorite song of his which I had put on repeat late last night. From the kitchen I could hear mom calling out to my sister. But above it all I could hear the milk cooker whistling shrilly.