“I should really be studying” is something I keep telling myself. But, I have observed it is quite easier said than done. At this ripe “young” age, I returned to Grad school to continue my formal education and achieve another academic milestone. However, I was sure that 16 years of formal education have made no effect on me, none whatsoever, and another 2 years degree would make no difference.
But, I still made that choice, now that I am more than half way through I am surprised how I made it this far. But it has been an incredible experience, and were it not so testing and daunting at this age, I would have liked to continue such experiences.
I have come to discover that there are several benefits, albeit intangible, of resuming grad studies at this age.
One of the many intangible benefits of going back to University at this age is to feel young again. Woah! It has been so enjoyable to sit, read and chit chat with those young and bright lads and lasses. I can care less about my real age, and my few remaining hair turning silver when I am among these youngsters; so full of life and hope for the future. It almost feels like “Back to the Future”; the clock turning back 15 years of my life.
The second benefit, the most important one from my perspective, is the opportunity to study with pretty and fine young females. Goodness! I like them so much, I am sure the feeling is exclusive and not reciprocal but still the feeling is worth it. It’s only because of them I am not really sorry to have paid so much money for this another piece of paper called MPhil degree. I have always wanted to study with young and pretty girls, I love co-education, really.
Another benefit is that I stood out among my classmates without any efforts on my part, not just by virtue of my age but also by virtue of the depth and breadth of my presumed knowledge. My young classmates remained, well most of the times except for my grades, pretty impressed by my “impeccable knowledge”. Had it not been for some courses on quantitative methods and Finance, the impression of my almost limitless knowledge was resoundingly established.
But still, due to the impression of my “qualitative skills”, my tenacity to read and write, and the impenetrable nature of my “knowledge”, I have commanded considerable respect from my classmates as well as faculty members. The truth unbeknownst to my classmates is simply the age difference; the number of years I have seen the world more than they have. Quite discreetly, I have a great appreciation for a number of my classmates, and sitting on the back benches I would often wish to be bright and intelligent like them.
I will never forget sitting there and to look at Anam’s bright and big eyes with an earnest look in them which informed me about her intelligence even before I saw her talking. She is a shy but a very helpful girl and thanks to her I have managed to go through a course in Public Finance. I would always be so grateful for what she did for me before the Finance course exam leaving behind her own worries about the first position. However, she is still the topper in our batch.
It has also been a privilege to have known a LUMS graduate like Faizan firsthand, one of the very few I have known personally. He is a close contender for the first position and a very intelligent guy who has studied throughout his academic career on merit scholarships and now aiming at Fulbright. Faizan’s organisation skills and meticulous mind has always inspired me, and he remains my partner on a research paper which we hope to get published somewhere, fingers crossed.
Arslan, on the other hand, all through the duration of the degree had been swearing that he was up to no good but he didn’t have a Marauder’s map to the first position courtesy to a course in Philosophy. However, his impeccable academic credentials bear witness to his outstanding mind, and the fact that he has memorised the Holy Quran by heart is another testimony of his mental prowess.
Nayab is the pretty princess in the crowd who, not quite unlike me, is not fond of formal education at all. We don’t just like exams – all else is fine I guess. She is very sweet but with a tinge of salt; a very clever girl who can be a dangerously good student in any class if she puts a little effort. Masooma, as her name indicates, so innocently kept us all cracking by her funny remarks and questions. And the jokes so innocently hidden away in her remarks spoke loud and clear of her mental sharpness.
Zaman is the baby of the class; the youngest guy in the lot. He was our best help when we just didn’t want to study, and he would always rise to the occasion. He is the kind of guy who would ask on the exam day, “guys, what is the name of the course we are studying?” But, during the classes, when we just wanted to waste time, he would bring all his mental shrewdness to the fore and engage the teacher in a series of philosophical questions that I would often hear breathlessly imagining how in the world did he come up with them.
But the two guys I most identified myself with among my classmates were Safeer and Yawar. Safeer has always impressed me by his crystal clear understanding of the hard realities of life and his hard-hitting questions on social reality. He is a true scholar in the making if he puts his mind to it. Yawar reminds me so much of my youth, in fact, his hair style looks like mine too. He is the kind of a guy everyone tells so often that they are full of talents which they are unable to discover and put to any use that they just get tired of this complement.
These are just some of my classmates who have affected me personally. I can clearly see each and every one of them and identify their obvious strengths and mental faculties, and then secretly be grateful for the respect they show to me and my “presumed” mental abilities and knowledge. It’s just my age and experience, guys, nothing more, and I wish you all good lives and great successes ahead.
I sincerely believe that it is a privilege for me to have returned to grad school for a research degree in a country like Pakistan, and more so because of the very fine people I came to know in this journey. And I wish to thank each and every one of my classmates for making this less unbearable for me. I am not sure if they can say the same about me, but I am grateful all the same.