Mainly translated from Ali Al Tantawi’s but with modifications, this was my first lecture in English (not my native language). It was in front of my colleagues at ALC (American Language Center) in Amman around 1998. I’m just posting it here without any update/fix since then:
My parent used to tell me when I was a kid – about 5 years old – that I had come to this world without clothes (naked), without teeth, and without the ability to speak. They also said that I had known nothing about anything!
At the beginning, I used to laugh at this as I couldn’t believe it! But, they were repeating that as a fact – always!!
I know myself very well… I just opened my eyes someday to find myself there: My body, my teeth, … I have my clothes… I can walk and speak… I have my own independent personality… The only resemblance between me and my family (my parent) is that I was an abbreviated version of them, or let’s say, a smaller piece!! So, it’s impossible that I had been existed before that day. I believe that I was 5 years old when I came to this life!!!
But because of much talking about this fact and repeating it, I began to think of that baby they were talking about… more and more… I was seeing him in the mirror, hearing his voice, and eagerly listening to my mother’s stories about him. I confess that I began to love him so much. Honestly, I began to love him more than my mother who I love more than anything else in this life.
That baby became the 5-years-old kid with brown eyes. I guess he had blond hair… Actually, I can’t remember. I forgot him! I’ve never seen him for about 20 years. He’s gone… I don’t know where!
Was that kid me?! I don’t know… My hand now is bigger that his hand. My body is too… He loved things I hate now and I love what he was hating… Where has he gone? And from where did I come?!
I’m not that kid but I wasn’t anyone else…
That makes me crazy!!!
Someday, I looked around and I saw a student instead of that kid! A student who had to go to school…
Why had he to go to school every day?! Why had he to leave the passion of his mother and the pleasure of playing with his brothers?! Why had he to leave the warmness of his house in winter or the shade in summer? Why had he to study strange things they call: Math or Languages?! Why had he to see that awful man –the teacher- every day?!
I think he was like a prisoner… that prisoner was me!!
Another day, I saw the student became a high-school-student… He was always hearing: “Bakalouria… bakalouria… be careful… you have to study very well… it’s your future…”
Bakalouria (high school), it’s the best hope in this life!!! They were saying so… Thus, he locked himself up in his room, studying, and also studying… He prohibited himself from all fun and pleasure… He wasn’t sleeping at all… just to study…
Well, he succeeded… Wow, it’s the best hope in this life. I can now do whatever I want….
You have to attend undergraduate school!!! Living comfortable needs Bachelor’s degree!!
I’m still wondering: Can I depend in building my future on papers only!! I’m still damming this future that prevented me from many things… I have always to go ahead in order to reach my future…
I’ve graduated now… Actually, I have a head full of science, knowledge, … I have elementary degree… I have high school degree… I have a BS degree… And, I have good ethical principles…. But, I have an empty wallet!!!
I guess that I’ll be defeated in the first round because my weapon is only my certificates. This is an old weapon.
They lied to me.
They said that learning, knowledge, and science are better than money. These protect you and you protect money! But, I can’t study unless I have money… And, if you were smart without enough money, you wouldn’t be able to buy books or to pay the school’s tuition… Rather, you would then think in bread, food, and livelihood… You would lose your intelligence… Meanwhile, a lot of rich people haven’t studied at all.
They said that Right is Might. But, someday, I found myself threatened by a thief’s gun; when I lectured him about rights, good manners, and ethics, he laughed at me… He took my money and left me with an absurd thought about rights and ethics!!!
It’s not the fault of life. Life is bare and clear… It’s the schools’ fault… and the teachers’ fault…
However, I couldn’t imagine that someday I’ll spend my life studying… Master’s…. And, …
I wonder what is the future? I’ve been running for about 20 years and I haven’t reached this future yet! When do I reach it? Where is it? And, will it remain future when I reach it or it will be the present?!
Who knows? Really don’t know the relationship between me and that kid who I forgot his face, between me and the student who I loved him, and between me and that graduated guy who I feel sorry for him…
Am I all of those?!
Oh, I got crazy!!!
Me over over ages