Nerds in the academic setting can be valued, welcomed and accepted, or they can be ignored, shunned or avoided, depending on the camp one belongs to. I belong to the nerd camp. I like books; I like technical difficulties, knotty problems, anything that involves energy, patience and perseverance for exploration, experimentation and learning.
Yet this natural inclination does not exclude me from my non-nerdy friends, who I connect with on a different plane, which though less intimate is no less mutually respecting and good-willing.
On the outside I would look like the complete recipe for a successful life with all ingredients complete: I topped Army Public School Skardu throughout kindergarten till 5th class, maintained that position at Public School and College Skardu, was selected for LUMS at the first try and I even maintain a very good GPA at my university now.
But on the inside, this glowing CV of mine easily hides the challenges, hardships and struggles I had to go through for reaching at the stage where I am at now, which is perhaps not that charming in itself. But I believe the real reason behind any success in my life came due to the simple, clichéd, boring reason of my life- because I was interested.
I was interested in Physics. I was interested in Mathematics. And reading these books would thrill me the same way a player might feel in anticipation just before his batting. And just like any interest, I don’t think there should be any valid reason for my affection with Science.
Although I must say that it helped enormously to have a Physics nerd as your brother to always talk and discuss about it and a teacher like Sir Bashir who was kind, perceptive and intelligent to guide my interest. Also the early schooling under the strict educational system of Army Public School deserves credit where I got the first taste of conceptual learning.
However, my intense interest in the sciences was perhaps the strongest reason I was touching towards higher grounds though there were no dearth of challenges in my life. I had to sacrifice going to Cadet College Skardu and settle for Public School Skardu because I was simply not in a position to pay their exorbitant fees. My parents were very sacrificing and would not have balked at anything short to get me a good education, but even they were limited in their capacity because all my other siblings were also studying.
Therefore, you might imagine my surprise and happiness when I was selected for the NOP at LUMS, not only fully funding my fees but also recompensing money for my personal finances. I felt that I could really pursue my academic interests in the sciences now, even though I knew I would have to content many critics’ complaints about not choosing a more lucrative career choice when I had the opportunity.
LUMS was a whole new world experience for me where I got to experience the company of some of the brightest and the best of the country. I saw that it was inhabited by the pro-western Pakistani elites who spoke a strange mix of English-cum-Urdu language. Therefore I stumbled and stuttered during my first semester not only due to my language deficiency but also due to my bookish and unsocial nature. But I came through it all in the end and got used to their ways of interaction and socialization.
The first year was like a life-time experience of exploration and learning all without the least bit of enforced power or authority. However, I was desperately waiting to be taught by Aamir Iqbal, the renowned Pakistani physicist about whom I had read too much. But he was not due for my class until the start of the second year. My anticipation and excitement were peaking so much so that I was not even enjoying my vacations back life, even though I was returning after a whole year for the first time in my life.
When I reached LUMS after my vacations though, I came to know that he had already left LUMS. I was extremely disappointed and sad with this news. Perhaps this was the reason that I did not fare well during my second year, the time when we had to choose majors and I had opted Physics only because of Him.
However, I came back on the track during my third year, by which time I had realized my renewed interest in Mathematics and therefore switched Physics for it. I was doing very well then in terms of my GPA.
Now I hope to go abroad for studying further in my field of interest, and I am really excited about it.