Monday, 24 September 2007


"Remember, this is the first day of the rest of your life."


My eldest brother's words of wisdom stunned me.

As I unpacked my bags and hung my clothes in the wardrobe, it started to sink in: the reality of my new life seemed to reluctantly seep through my counscious mind, as if it were too much for me to take in all at once. I guess it was.

Although it's a change I've long dreamed of, it was bizarre and somewhat incongruous. Living with complete strangers and being entirely independent in all aspects of my daily life - it will take some getting used to.

The news I have been relishing to break to my readers is that I passed my A-Level exams and am now an undergraduate student of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Though it wasn't an ideal set of grades, I succeeded in persuading the guy on the phone that my less-than-average results do not reflect my academic capabilities, and that I was severely hampered by a number of daunting factors which I had to put up with during my examinations.

Professors at SOAS, my first choice university, didn't find it in their hearts to overlook a petty grade in favour of what really matters, that being myself, so I ended up at Goldie's. The place is an absolute hotbed for unconventional ideologies and prospective bohemian artists, writers and musicians. Despite lacking the rich variety of ethnicities that other London universities enjoy, paritcularly SOAS, Goldsmiths boasts an enviable reputation for igniting a student's engine that drives him throughout a uniquely comprehensive journey of self-discovery.

It feels like I can finally have a go at mentally skinny-dipping into the vast ocean of life and dive as endlessly as I want, free of familial obligations and domestic shackles. I can sleep in comfort knowing that I am limping towards my goal of tearing apart the social eye-patch that blinkers the vision and ambitions of so many people, the self-proclaimed saviour who 'knows best' about governing lives in ways that us mortals just aren't able to comprehend. Like many of my elder friends, Konfused Kid may chuckle at my ambition being to emulate and redress Dr Ali Al Wardi's works. When I informed a relative of my choice of degree, a big fan of Al Wardi, he applauded me and said that in order for one to be able to help less-advantaged people of the world, it is vital that one understands the complex mechanisms behind it so that he recognises where he stands, where he should be and the means of getting there. It was then that I knew I'd made the right choice.

On a more sentimental note, I noticed a couple of weeks ago, that three very important anniversaries were remembered within a short period of time. Princess Diana's memorial service was no less than what she deserved. The 'Queen of Hearts' defied age-old customs by dismounting from her regal chariot so that she walks with victims of AIDs in Africa and amongst Kosovan survivors of landmines.

Equally familiar to millions around the world is Mother Theresa whose tenth anniversary was celebrated by publishing obscure material that was taken from her diary. It seems the soon-to-be-canonised Albanian-born nurse had doubts about God after witnessing scenes of the cruellest kind. Poverty, disease, droughts and floods were the fuel that gave her energy to keep working no matter how old and weary she had become.

Most importantly for me, however, was my mother's anniversary which coincided with the day I received my A-Level results. Having overcome the post-acceptance-ecstacy which followed that dreaded phonecall, I spent the night replaying some of the vivid memories I have of my childhood with my Mama.

I rummaged through obscure and untouched files on my computer and found a song that took me back to 1995. The Cranberries' Ode To My Family completely lulled me and I couldn't help but close my eyes in hope of recreating a specific scenario. I am now seven years old, watching Channel 2's final program of the day, Akhir Al Mishwar (The End of The Walk.) That night, they were playing Ode To My Family. At the song's chorus, my brothers imitate Dolores O'Riordan's heavy pronouciation of the letter R, especially when she says 'My motherrrrrrrrr' and 'Does anyone carrrrrre'. After it finished, I kissed my mother goodnight and went to bed.

On my ninth birthday, she gave me 100 Syrian liras - a staggering sum of cash for a kid of nine. Later that night, a friend of my brother's offered me 500 liras but I obstinately but politely refused to accept his gift, as I expected being interrogated by my family as to where I had got the money from. I thought I was an idiot for turning down a fortune. My sole consolation was my strange conviction that my mother's gift meant so much more to me than what I was offered by someone who barely knew me.

She passed away eight days later.

As I hugged my brother and reassured him that he's the first one I call if in need of anything, he smiled and said "Mama would be proud of you. The youngest one and now you're in university!"

I hope she is.