One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Fattening Of A Mind

When I was at high school, my obsession with learning went too far to an extent that I got almost disconnected with most of my friends and their world of interests. It peaked when I started working at a woodwork factory after the school hours. At the factory, I mostly varnished the chairs and sofa sets. My work clothes and shoes had turned into armored shields by multiple layers of varnish coatings and I felt like an arthropod inside the clothes. In short, I went through a daily metamorphosis, beginning in the morning when I dressed into the dark-sky-blue school uniform (which turned into light-sky-blue after weekly washes by the end of the school year) to the afternoon, when I wore varnished-work-clothes and to the night, when I became myself in the casual dress. While the life appeared to be the repetition of the same acts weeks after weeks with no end at the sight, I felt like to be in the Alice’s wonderland. And that wonderland was the world of the words;

Early afternoons, when I went to work, the other workers had already left for the afternoon siesta. Occasionally, the factory owner’s youngest brother visited the factory to supervise our work. Once we went to the same school and were in different grades. He was couple of years younger than me but at the factory, I went to work and he was the boss. While, I varnished the chairs, he held a fat Oxford dictionary and walked back and forth of the hall to memorize the dictionary. I wanted to learn the language too but I had neither the time, nor money for the dictionary. So, I sorted out the used English newspapers from Russian newspapers that we used for packaging (also laid on the floor while varnishing) and hid them. I put a paper on the floor while working and looked for the words that either I could easily memorize or looked interesting to me and asked the meanings from the young boss. He liked the practice and often shared the vocabularies, he thought were interesting. My vocabulary was growing fast and parts of the English papers started making sense to me (Those were my greatest joys). I knew that kind of encyclopedic and chance-based learning equipped me with a kind of worldview, full of holes that enabled me only to have patchy views of the worlds that fell outside of my town. Still, each new word, each new piece of information, each new concept made me feel that I was growing up in those still days and nights. I believed that if I had plenty of time and a dictionary, I could have attained nirvana. 

I had a year of gap after finishing high school and that was a heavenly gift to me. I had plenty of time (I worked till noon and afternoons, I went for a mechanic course, which was for three hours and as I had no homework, so I could afford to spend time reading whatever, I could get my hands on) and well for the first time an English to Urdu dictionary (and that was the first non-textbook that I bought for fifty rupees). I went crazy with translating entire pages of newspapers (well, not the way interpreters translate but by writing Urdu meanings under each English word). I didn’t attain nirvana but it had greatly boosted my confidence level. 

When colleges’ admission opened, I and my youngest maternal-uncle went to the college for admission. The students wings of the political parties had set up reception desks to guide (attract students) and help students in their college admissions. Holding the admission forms, we went to the desk of Hazara Students Federation. Three senior students of the college represented the party. 

“What do you want to study?” A young man who had thick curly hairs and square face asked.

“Science.” I replied.

“Pre-medical or pre-engineering?”

“Pre-medical (which meant biology instead of mathematics)”.

“Could you guys afford coaching classes?”


“Then, I strongly recommend that you take arts subjects, instead. Without coaching classes, you won’t be able to pass the exams.”

We thanked them and left. We knew, they were right but we were determined and took admission in pre-medical. College textbooks were in English but I had dictionary and time, so I translated my Biology, Chemistry and partially physics textbooks….

So, why did I feel to the need to tell this story?

Recently, I heard two complains about myself (from friends and relatives), first, that I am living in Jungle (small town) and second that I rarely communicate. Well, if they knew a little about my past, they could understand that my mind have grown so obese that it barely wonders about large cities or becoming more social. Imagine that a boy who once believed that he could attain nirvana, if he had plenty of time and a dictionary gets the chance to order five books at 2 a.m. in the morning (and they only cost him two hours of his work) or he could stop at a thrift shop after work and buy five book just with an hour of his work, what would you expect him spending most of his time? He would literally bury himself in the books, right? He knows very well that, it is not a systematic way of gaining knowledge (or it is unhealthy on the long run but he never been able to live a healthy lifestyle) and he can’t help himself. If you are impoverished for years, your health is the first victim, when you have plenty. You can’t resist the urge of over-consumption, despite knowing the dangers. The access to fast internet and books has fattened my mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment