A group of 15 writing enthusiasts gathered in the basement of the main Liberty Bookstore on the afternoon of Saturday, April 02. Everyone was there for the Writers’ Guild Workshop: an attempt to promote love of reflective reading and writing amongst a cross-section of writing enthusiasts in Karachi. It was a combined effort by Liberty Books and AKU to enhance the learning and writing process for students and professionals. The participants were encouraged to then submit their own brief narratives consistent with the ‘Ordinary Encounters –Extraordinary Narratives’ theme of the workshop. Here’s an ordinary encounter shared by one of our workshop participant “Khudeja Hakimjee”.
‘Go Beta go!’ A mother screams form the sidelines, while another is praying anxiously, her eyes not leaving her son’s progress across the pool lane.
Another race ends, and it leaves me wondering if competitive swimming is the right thing for me to indulge my son in.
What is the point of a race anyways, I have often wondered. Get from one point to the other in the fastest possible manner. What lesson does that teach him? Does it tell him that he has to race from one end to the other, and that there’s no time for a leisurely dip in the pool? Well if that’s the case, that is all I have been teaching him as I race him from school to Quran lessons, to religious studies class, to swimming and then back home for lessons, dinner and bed.
For my son’s little eyes, the world must be passing by in a blur. For him, all activities are clustered together, back to back without giving him a chance just to be. I often reminisce of my childhood to him. For me, it was just a bus ride from school to home, and after that I was free to go play on the apartment terrace with a bunch of other children, all of whom had similar routines. Research supports this laissez faire unstructured time as something that is needed for the children to develop their imagination. I remember using a wooden plank to create a seesaw, and using pebbles and scraps to initiate a treasure hunt. I don’t see my son doing that; poor thing does not have the time.
My parents like to blame me; not my husband, but me, for this hectic rush I have created in his life and mine. I justify my role in this by stating that I am a responsible mother, I want my son to be well-rounded. But even as I make these claims to defend myself, I know deep down, that I want my son to win, I want him to come first, and if he doesn’t, I am sorely disappointed – not in him, but in myself. I go through all the motions of consoling him, and placating him by saying that it is okay, he did work hard, and that’s all that matters. In real life, hard work does not matter as an end, it matters as a means to an end – winning.
I remember this dialogue from a popular Urdu serial, the daughter tells her mother that she finds the changing attitudes of people, as they have grown richer, to be hypocritical. Her mother laughingly responds that people strive to be richer only to have others treat them better for it.
While I want my son to win, I do not want him to win without working hard. At the same time, I also don’t want him to be in a race for all things that matter in life. The tribulations are: how do I teach him to relax, when all I am teaching him is to run as fast as possible?
– Khudeja Hakimjee