Imtiaz Ali: Every achievement in life comes with a price with only few willing to pay


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.





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