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.


Glory Rose! said...

She is!!! :)

3eeraqimedic said...

Little Penguin
I echo Glory Rose's comment.
It is good to "hear" from you again, you got everyone so worried.
Congrats on the results and Uni and being free in the big wide world, don't forget to stretch your legs as well as stretching your skills

Anonymous said...

Well Well

You're all grown up!

I can't tell you how it feels to be sitting in the cool Alexandria breeze reading the words of my little brother. I have to tell you, I always think of you as that young child who used to cry for no reason, who was afraid of fish and who went to ZONI with me one spring night in Damascus.
Reading your words now fill me with pride, and hope, so much hope of what you can achieve. I'm proud of you man.

Safe Blaad, you're in Uni!!!!


Anonymous said...

really sad and exciting at the same time!
Hope you learn from the past experiences.


travel girl said...

So glad to hear from you!
And CONGRATS!!! You should be so very proud of yourself. I'm sure your mother is (as apparently all the rest of your family are as well.) So is University all you thought it would be? Tell me all about your classes!


Ihsiin said...

No more hoovering!

April Girl said...

Mabrook! This is a beautiful path you've chosen, I hope you enjoy it all!
Your writing is great, you make people smile and then make them cry and then smile again, keep at it!

Anonymous said...






Anonymous said...

fe6waaaaaaaaa amoot ani amoot?

Anonymous said...

That put a smile on my face. I enjoyed reading that

Anonymous said...

its reaally well written. good use of
metaphor. you have the potential to be a succesdful write. keeping writing.

Anonymous said...

its reaally well written. good use of
metaphor. you have the potential to be a successful write. keeping writing.

Anonymous said...

great piece of writing man, i enjoyed every minute of it, inshalla your writing will be familiar on a larger scale some time...i dnt see y not. frog :s

Yasmin (Blanche) said...

Hello Little Penguin,
welcome back.. Odta wal Awdo Ahmado..Mabrook for yr success..
yr post has so many touching points..
Im sure yr Mama is already more than proud of u.. as she watches over u from heaven.. Allah yerhamha..
Dont worry about sharing room with strangers.. sometimes they turn out to be the best freinds u will ever get.. blv me..i ve been there ..
You have been greatly missed, so pls keep writing..

karroma said...

touching...i'm speechless

everytime i attempt to read any of ur blog entries...i'm on my toes...i'm so anxious and

i read it with bated breath...i don't know when my eyes will reach that very sentence which will make me weep

mom is sure proud of u so as all of those who love u

Little Penguin said...

Thank you all for your encouragement.. It's nothing short of a blessing to know that so many people are willing to listen, interact and appreciate.. scattered around the world but ever close to my heart.. :)

Glory Rose! said...

Finally :) Yes, we do care about your well-being so you'd better not do it again or we'll hunt you down and... Do bad stuff to you!!! :P :D

I am actually planning to go over to Al Soor soon, some new books are due to arrive these days, I'd better go get what I want before someone else does!! :)

I can also see that your brother is still in Egypt, did he like it??
Alex is the most beautiful city in Egypt, it has a soul you can't find anywhere else!!

Zappy Corleone said...

Mabrook, Wishing you all the best in life.

The World is your Apple.

Anthony Davis said...

You are a brave soul. Inspirational and remarkable. You are also now top of my list. Take care. AD x

BOOKISH said...


am sure that your family will be proud of having such a great son as you.
اتمنى لك التوفيق والنجاح والتميز في دراستك الجامعيه

Mehdi said...

Well done mate, i already told you face to face, but i also told you that i will leave a comment, so here it is. It honestly gave me goosebumps, good work!!!

travel girl said...

sooo...How go the classes?

Rosie said...

Salaam Munchkin,
I went through some of your blogs, and they were mesmerizing, Bravo ! I promise I shall keep up to date about the happenings in your life, and remain in touch insha Allah. Remember, there is so much ability and giftedness within you that you can achieve whatever goals you have your eyes on. I believe in you, and friends and family believe in you.
Make ‘yourself’ proud.

OnlinePharmacy said...

ATxLHG Your blog is great. Articles is interesting!

Bibi-Aisha said...

I'm a new reader. What an inspiring blog,mashallah. You will certainly go far and i wish you well.

Konfused Kid said...

Godammit. Habibi. What can I say, you're so kind and touching. Your appreciation of your mother and the world is indeed pride worthy, for your mother I am certain, but for me as a fellow human being, and Iraqi.

Okay, I hate to blurt out emotional bullshit so I hope nobody reads this but you. (doesn't mean it's not true btw)

Just to say something about sociology, you have my full support ; through reading Ali al-Wardi I must say it is a very great field that is in dire need, I even sometimes fantasize about studying it myself.

The Waitress said...


lelly said...

What a lovely post. My sister is in London at Kings College, she went at the same time as you. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

m mehdi ..not only ur mother is proud , but all of us are ,for everything u r man .. we always knew that u were gonna make us proud , and u did bro u did...

Peridot said...

Little Penguin
'Proud' is a very strong, and touching poem.
your mother is proud of you and always will be =)