The Trivial, Hidden Journey
Born in a Middle Class Pakistani family, I was a lot better off than many other girls who, despite being born in a rich family, were not enjoying the pleasure of studying in a good school. I was born in a small town in Pakistan, Khewra (famous for Asia’s largest salt mines).
There were not a lot of schools in this area, only one college for girls and no university. Although, now it has good schools and a few colleges in adjoining areas, but I am talking about 2001. Not only this, the concept of educating girls was rare among people. My father, who worked in a soda manufacturing company as a stores manager, did not have a large salary. But what he had, many over there were not having. He had a vision and audacity to send his girls to good educational institutions. I had four sisters and one brother and he wanted to educate us all, as he himself was unable to complete his studies due to various responsibilities. Times are changing and now girls are also allowed to go to renowned schools and colleges for studies; back then, it was a bit difficult. My father fought against all odds. He managed to give us a good education on a small salary. I must say we were lucky.
As I grew up, I came to realize that in order to be good in studies, I had to develop the habit of reading. It was not very difficult for me as my sisters were also fond of reading and most of the cupboards in our house were full of books and notes. I was always surrounded by books so I automatically developed the habit of reading. In addition to this, I had a habit of listening to bedtime stories, although many times, my sisters were unable to come up with an interesting story so they used to make up their own stories in order to make me go to sleep. I was the youngest and used to sleep with my sisters so it was included in their responsibilities to narrate me a bedtime story or a poem. This habit instilled in me a fondness for short stories that I still have. I love reading and writing short stories. But as I grew up, I got so caught up in my regular studies that I stopped reading extra books. At that specific time, I didn’t realize that I was hurting my inner self (it sounds strange, I know).
It might be a trivial issue for many people, but not for me. I came across a few avid readers and I started cursing myself for not being a devoted reader. A lot of people do not read books these days, but for me, it was something serious. It started hurting my self esteem. I wanted to be a passionate reader but somehow, due to some unknown fear and delay, I couldn’t develop this habit. Moreover, I started getting confused whether to go for fiction books or nonfiction books. Few recommended fiction, the other few, nonfiction. Big, successful people in their interviews emphasized upon reading nonfiction whereas I, a girl fond of short stories with little literary canon, was more attracted to fiction. I guess I simply wanted to be successful so I tried to do whatever successful people were saying. I totally forgot that I had a personality of my own and I don’t have to change myself for being better, I just had to improve on what I’ve got already.
Finally, I started reading both fiction and nonfiction. I just wanted to assure myself that yes, I am reading and I can be a good reader and I am trying, I just have to keep going. I opted for a few nonfiction books and a few short story collections. Until then, I was still unclear regarding my favorite genre. This feeling irritated me the most. Why was I unable to identify my favorite genre? I was fed up with my indecisiveness and it was turning me mad. It made me feel as if I just couldn’t decide anything.
After completing my graduation, I decided to go for CSS (Central Superior Services, a government exam held in Pakistan to apply for high level government jobs). It was necessary to read daily newspapers in order to prepare for CSS (there are 12 papers of CSS, and in order to pass them, you must have a good general knowledge specifically related to Pakistan, excellent essay writing skills and a strong vocabulary). I couldn’t pass this exam but what it gave me was more than enough. Reading newspapers on a daily basis made me realize that I was interested in reading about social issues and I can actually write about social issues. I started writing articles on social issues, they got published and I was on clouds. It was an honor for me that my articles were getting published. It was like a dream come true. My self esteem got a boost. I started reading books again and it made me feel good about myself. I was not doing a job so I had little money for books but then my brother supported me, he brought books for me. I also started working as a content writer and was able to save meager amounts for my books.
This article, upon reading, might sound a little strange or ordinary to all of you but it was a hidden journey for me. A journey from being a non reader to a reader, from being a confused person to a better, decisive and observant person. Today, I clearly observe and feel changes in myself and my personality that reading taught me. I am glad that I was able to get a good education, but trust me fellas, education alone can do nothing. With education, you need to have wisdom. Education gives you knowledge, and using that knowledge in your daily routine gives you wisdom. Focus on improving yourself, be your own competitor and you will live a life better than many.
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