With such a solitary life, he had developed the habit of talking to his goats and sheep. He liked to share his feelings with them, cracking jokes, recalling some past memories, and describing his forest to them secretively. He never felt that these animals were dumb, and he always experienced a sense of relief when he shared something with them, as they were his true companion. Sometimes, just for fun he manically started bleating like them as if he knew their language too, he loved it when one would raise its head and look at him, as if agreeing with what he was saying.

He never felt truly comfortable staying in the camps and tried to spend as little time there as possible. Sometimes, he spent whole days in the camp house, just for a change. Another reason for his reclusiveness was having no friends or peers in the camps with whom he could talk to or play with.

One day he returned to the camp a bit earlier than usual, and to his surprise there were some vehicles parked outside.  He couldn’t understand it, and he rushed towards the area where one of his maternal uncles lived. Akram asked him about these vehicles, and why they were here. His uncle told him that they were from a welfare organization who had come to collect data about the immigrants. After listening to this, a wave of fear ran through his body.  He had heard stories about these welfare organizations from the elderly people of the camps, and he fled to his pasture: the only place he could hide. He was in such a panic that he ran straight into a tall man near the camps. He had a small beard and a kindly face, and when he caught Akram’s eye he simply smiled. Strangely, Akram felt a very deep connection with this person, and it transformed him from a state of panic and confusion to a state of calm.  

He ended up sitting under a tree, near to the camps, with the man he learned was called Shams.  Shams asked Akram a few questions about his village in Afghanistan, his exodus, and his present life, and Akram started telling him, and it was like he couldn’t stop, so lost in his story that he couldn’t feel the tears that were rolling down his cheeks. He was weeping without being aware of it.

Shams asked him about the pasture that was his whole world now, and Akram passionately told him about it, and then realised he badly wanted to share its beauty with someone. Shams was intrigued about the pasture and asked Akram to show it to him. Slowly and steadily, they wandered towards the pasture.  It was not far from the village, but, it took them an hour to reach it, as they were both deep in conversation. In a short time they had established a very profound connection with each other.

Once they reached the pasture, Shams was astonished to see such lush green grass, with the beautiful valley spread out below, and the light fluffy clouds above, surrounded by high mountains seemingly touching the sky. Shams felt totally numb, and closed his eyes for a while, as if he were under the spell of the place. Akram showed him the place where he spent most of his time, his favourite tree.  It was a thick and shadowy fig tree, that was also known as a wisdom tree. They both sat under the tree in companionable silence, listening to the whisper of the wind, and the melodious sounds of birds chirping around.

Meditating, Shams was experiencing something deep and profound. After a minute or two, he suddenly stood up and asked Akram to take him back to the camps. He felt so disturbed that he didn’t utter a word on their way back.  After finishing his work, Shams was ready to leave. He offered to take Akram with him to the city for a few days, but Akram was reluctant to leave.  He had never been to a city, but he promised him to go with him next time.

Days passed by and Akram started spending most of his time in the pasture under his wisdom tree.  Like Shams, he tried to meditate and he felt serene and calm after that. He had had an extraordinary experience, and sometimes he felt as if nature had its own subtle language that was only understood by free souls.  He felt he had experienced and enjoyed nature like this;

The caress of a cool breeze touching me deeply,

The rhythmic movement of leaves like dancing fairies,

The melodious song of droplets when it’s raining,

The rustling of grass blades, and fragrance of daisies.

After two months, Shams returned to see Akram again, and he saw the changes in him.  He had grown into a mature young man, and he shared some of the profound thoughts he’d had on the meaning of life with Shams, things that Shams wouldn’t normally expect to hear from a teenager. He was thoroughly inspired by these thoughts and concepts, and he spent a few hours listening to him, just nodding his head. That evening, Shams told Akram that he was going to take him to the city and Akram had no choice but to fulfill his promise. Half heartedly Akram agreed, and decided to go with him at once. On the way Akram felt his heart was thumping fast, as if something unusual was about to happen. He remained silent throughout the journey, deep in thought.

When they were close to the border of the city, he closed his eyes for a few seconds in order to avoid the sight.  “It is a totally new world.” Akram muttered as they entered the city.

“For you, it is definitely a new world, but for us it’s quite old.” Shams replied with a light smile.

Akram gazed at the huge skyscrapers and vehicles: he felt he was an alien in this place. Fascinated, he asked a few questions about the traffic lights, all the different vehicles, the huge buildings etc.  unexpectedly he found he was thoroughly enjoying this new experience.