Jabir Al Fatah

You may have read biographies about many celebrities before. I am not one of them. I haven't had the most interesting childhood of all, but I would like to share my story with you.

I was born in a small village. The villagers were peaceful; almost completely free from crime and sadness. They were merciful and happy. My ancestors settled in this region long ago. When he became an adult, my father moved to that village, which is just a kilometre away from the home in which he grew up, and where my grandfather still lived.

The land on which my home is built is the subject of legendary tales. People used to say there was evil in the jungle there on that land. The older villagers told tales of monstrous shapes in the bushes and other frightening sights.

My father cut away the jungle to make room for our home. In the home he built, I learned many life lessons. He taught me English letters when I was very small. He taught me a lot about the world before I got to school. My mother was always very patient with us. My father was so kind that he wouldn’t care sometimes how much money he was losing or the effort he was putting to feed and make us happy. He was a hard-worker and our financial condition required him to struggle for our sake. He was prepared to bring smile to our faces through any means possible. Sometimes I used to follow him to market in the city, 4 to 5 km away from our home. Most of the time, I used to sit on his cycle's carrier, where he put up a cushion so as to make my journey comfortable and delightful.

I can still remember the shining, sweet winter morning when one of the other boys in my neighbourhood asked me, "Fatah, do you want to go to school with me?” I had been casually entertaining myself in the yard when he asked me to accompany him, and my mother was more than willing to let me leave. And thus the real beginning of my story is constructed.

I was an extremely shy, overly fragile boy for all intents and purposes within our school. I somehow became friendly with some stubborn, certainly villainous boys in my elementary school and they were well aware of my inclination to introversion. I was not interested in inviting them to my home: my sanctuary. Unfortunately, I lived a few meters away from the school. These 'friends' began harassing me by saying that they would follow me home after school. It was, in all honestly, blatant harassment. Mentally, I was completely unprepared to deal with them. Physically, even if I wanted to try I would barely be able to tackle one of them.

One day, after school, I was on my way home and I saw that they were really following me. Who knows what might happen next? I was trying to avoid them and they were not accepting my excuses. When I started crying loudly, they finally went on their way. There is another sad history surrounding my primary school education. I was having a political argument with one of my friends from class. We both had different political views and we both supported different political parties.

Unfortunately some of my logic (against his chosen party) hurt him and he became very aggressive. There was a fight. After a couple of rounds of fighting, one moment came when he slapped me, unconsciously. He had a pen in his hand. The lid of the pen hit me in the corner of my face. Luckily, the impact didn't destroy my eyes even though there was a big chance of that happening. I could have lost my eye as the cap hit the area that was right below the corner of me eye. I started to bleed profusely. It left a spot-shaped scar on my face.

However, now the scar has faded with the years and it’s almost invisible to others. When my father learned of this, he transferred me to another school. After studying there for a few months, I returned to my former school, since I had previously registered there for my scholarship exam. When I finished elementary school, I moved on to a junior school. Looking back, I realize that junior school played a significant role in building my character, although I still have some missing skills when it comes to being easy and relaxed with other people. Fortunately, my life is such that this doesn't cause me too much difficulty.

My life is pretty much okay, but I still think that it's important to have varied experiences in life and expand oneself. One of my favourite hobbies has turned out to be cycling. It began when my father bought me a small red bicycle. I don't know how other people react to the experience of cycling, but for me, it seemed an amazing and exotic experience to fly along on those two wheels! I loved every single time I cycled and my particular joy was when I travelled to my maternal grandfather's home every Friday. Each time I imagined I was on a grand expedition as I raced across the countryside.

Unlike every other teenage boy, my parents never allowed me and my siblings to play or engage with other children in school or outside our home. The strictness of my parents stood strong. I still see it in my mind’s eye, “no ball games area”. That was while I was growing up, and in the age frame of when our brains create ourselves. I remain positive though, because in a funny way, I was not very fond of outdoor sports or games. In fact, after what rules my parents set down for me, I began to not allow myself the luxury and freedom to play with other kids in the school when I got older. I got involved myself with gossiping with friends sitting with picnic baskets at the corner of the field others played on, or where I may have played. Another thing that I must say is positive is that I began a close love of searching for details in ordinary objects and events around me. I began to find my writing- seemed to find many interesting plots, facts and stories bubbling up from my own imagination- which I enjoyed to share and discuss.

Looking after our flower garden was another hobby. In my leisure time, I used to water the garden. My sister had a small flower garden, in which she had a lovely Marigold plant. She planted some other flowers including Rose and Tuber rose. Marigold was one of my favourite among others. Usually, the plant grows throughout the season.

We had a big pond next to our yard. The pond played a vital role to our neighbours, in the summer while the sun shines brutally, makes people thirsty and chases them to search of water source, the pond was important to us. Mainly, during the hot months of April and May, warm air rose over the Indian subcontinent, creating low-pressure areas which rushed cooler, moisture-bearing winds from the Indian Ocean. It has a direct effect in our region and other areas around our district. However, turning back to our pond, sometimes we planned to catch fish and we started that task with more people who were very good at finding and catching fish. Those people performed with great joy and actually, catching fish didn’t mean just catching it and then returning home with their own part or right, rather it was an exciting exertion as well as a good trend to build a unity in our society and people living around us.

My favourite vegetable is Ipomoea Aquatica (also known as Water Spinach). It’s a nice looking green leafy vegetable which can be found in most soils along the margined of fresh water, marshes or wet crop fields. It is not seasonal, so we could get it all year round - from our wet rice field. My mother prepared it in the most amazing way. I always asked her whether we are going to have a Water Spinach today or not.

My childhood seemed to fly by, and I got all the way through to the end of 8th grade without changing schools at all. But then, wanting to follow my eldest brother's recommendation for me to study Science, I had to switch and I was lucky enough to win a place at a suitable high school just a few kilometres from home. I worked hard, of course, and finished high school in just two more years; but we also played hard, my new friends and I!

I was on holiday for a few months before I was waiting for my secondary school exam results to be published and getting admitted to college. I found something interesting to pass my time. Our village was near the biggest river in my country, near my home. I didn't know about this river until I was 14 years old. Can you believe that? I liked the river and walking on the riverside. My friends and I took many tours on the riverbank. It has a special green viaduct that runs around the bank as far as our eyes could go. The viaduct seemed to touch the sky at some points of the horizon. Sounds like something from a dream, right?

I left home at the end of the first month after I had finished my exam. I wish I could go back in time again, but no, I should stop thinking that way. For the time being, I obtained a college admission. The college campus was amazing and luxurious, and the area around it was comparatively quieter and nicer than the rest of the city. I stayed at the college hostel where life was very strict and regulated. We weren’t allowed to use our mobile phones, and we were not permitted to go out without permission. I lived in a room with two friends, but I managed all right; we ate well and lived healthy.

Let me tell you a tale about my college roommate, Pratik. He was a unique spirit, someone you might call a "logical realist," and strong-headed. Once he made a decision, there was nothing you could do to turn him off it. His stubbornness and way of thinking were at odds with our hostel super, Leon, a conservative man who liked to assert his authority.

One day, Pratik and I decided to go to an internet café during study hours; however, Leon was unlikely to give us the leave. But we were determined! Pratik came up with a story to fool Leon. We told him that we needed to meet with our English teacher at his house to discuss an assignment. We didn't think Leon would have a reason to stop us, since it wasn't unusual for other students meet with teachers. However, Pratik wasn't exactly in Leon's good graces, so it took quite a bit of convincing on our part. I wasn't worried, though, because Pratik was good at managing these sorts of things. We finally got permission from Leon to go, and made a straight line for the internet café, where we spent more time than we had expected. As it got late in the day, Leon called our English teacher to ask if we were on our way back to the hostel. The teacher, of course, said that we had never been there!

Then there was Ryan. He was a veritable sleep addict. He was the sort who couldn't be woken unless he waked himself. Always seen dozing by early evening, Ryan seemed to wake up on purpose by late evening. He would gossip for hours at a stretch with the other boys in the hostel till midnight. He then would start to read, often in a loud voice, while the other boys slept. Ryan did this almost night after night. Other than that, he was actually a friendly and sociable person, and helpful to the rest of us.

I could never forget Aiden’s story. Aiden was a boy well aware of his smartness and physical beauty. The large mirror that hung in the drawing room occupied his attention constantly. He spent a lot of time primping and preening himself, using make-up and trying to look more attractive - It was a typically girlish activity uncharacteristic of a boy. This made him appear abnormal or ridiculous to us other students. One night Aiden slept early while other boys were still awake. I and few other friends decided to play a prank on him. We knew he would be annoyed and probably humiliated, but we decided to play this mean trick on him anyway. We took a black marker pen, and drew a beard and moustache over face. He didn't wake up- we kept adding more decoration to his face. We even wrote his girlfriend’s name in a big font on his arm, along with some unmentionable words. He never had a clue. The next morning Aiden woke up and stood in front of the mirror as usual to look at his face. What happened next was an untold story.

To be quite honest, I have never liked my college life. Not even a single moment that I stayed there. I have now realized that experiencing and knowing freedom is extremely necessary to be smartly educated; in fact, just a few books on the table were never enough to lead me to the path of blossoming into an educated person. Although I read and wrote a lot, I have not yet started to think. The beauty of imagination has not yet knocked on my mind. From the depth of my heart, I was never ever truly motivated. I did all my work just because I was expected to, just because I had to. My teachers, the influence they have had on me, everything that I have experienced due to them, has compelled me to write this bitter essay today: my apologia. Throughout my college life, I sensed the lack of the companionship of a wonderful and fascinating mind, except the very few and far-in-between.

All that being kept in my mind, I have now changed the way I think, the way I act. I am becoming closer to humanity, closer to love, in which real education exists, in which the true purpose of education exists.
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