By Asif Sher Khan
There were times when Asad thought of himself as the clumsiest boy on this earth, especially when he encountered academic stress. In the playground of Cricket, however, he always was the King. He loved sports and with the same intensity despised studies.
An 18-year old boy with enviable athletic skills was predictably the hero of his class. Everyone liked him and even the girls smiled profoundly to him, sometimes!
But guess what, he never found the guts to talk to any girl and that was what he thought his real weakness was.
One day, he and his best pal Ali were sitting in a Coffee Shop talking about their upcoming match with the rival school’s cricket team. There were few empty seats and the elders sitting nearby were talking about some virus wreaking havoc in China. They tried to overhear their conversation but gave up on it shortly. Their topic of discussion soon turned from the match to class and then to girls and finally into Ali’s favorite topic: Asad’s weakness!
After a long debate, it was decided that Asad would ask their classmate Mehwish for a cup of coffee after the weekend.
So, the day arrived, finally. It was Asad’s match and his upcoming date today. He was very nervous not because of the match but about his weakness that he was about to overcome. He put on his ironed uniform and headed toward his college on his bike.
It was a fine day. The sun was curtained by the clouds and the fresh air was spreading peace in the environment. He was unexpectedly stopped by the watchman Lal Khan at the gate. ”Oye, the college is closed for 15 days”, shouted Khan. Why? asked Asad. ”Corona has come to Pakistan lad”, answered Khan. He tried to get more information, but Khan could give him this little detail. He went back home and was startled to know on news that the education institutions have been closed for 15 days across the country due to the emergence of Corona Virus Case in Pakistan.
The first 10 days went like a year for him. He would sleep, wakeup, eat, again sleep, and repeat. He felt devastated because not only was his main match missed but his aim to overcome his weakness went in vain. But the worse was still to come.
He almost cried when he came to know that the duration of closure of schools have been extended to 30 days more by the government and a new word was used for it on news i.e. Lockdown. The government also requested the people to stay home meanwhile used a new word i.e. quarantine which took Asad three days to pronounce properly.
Now Asad felt truly useless. He got nothing left to do and would stay in his room doing nothing for days. He was experiencing the wave of depression now and decided to light few stolen (from his father) cigarettes.
He was too indulged in the cigarette and was enjoying the nicotine when the doors suddenly opened, and his father appeared. Asad went pale and felt the saliva in his mouth getting dry. His father instead of slapping him took the cigarette from his hand, threw it into the trash and sat near Asad. He was literally shivering now.
“I know what you are feeling right now, the adrenaline is high in your blood’’, said his father softly, ”but this thing is never going to help you son, rather it would ruin you and you would suffer throughout your life”, continued his father, Asad could barely breath now. ‘Where there is a challenge, there is a solution. Please try to read this book tonight”, said his father, gave him a book and went away.
Asad could not believe what had just happened. He took the book reluctantly and read the name ”Who will cry when you would die, by Robin Sharma,” which unexpectedly attracted him. He started to read and with each page he read, Asad felt an inner joy. And for the first time in his life, he read a whole book in one night; it was the book that totally changed him.
He started making priority list and enlisted ‘Studying’ as the main priority. He now realized his not caring about girls was not his weakness but his strength. He would wake up early and start exercising, go through his college textbooks, chat with his friends on social media for 1 hour, help his mother in house chores and read a good book at night and he loved doing this and felt inner peace which in past he seldom experienced. His parents were surprised to see how the heat of quarantine melted Asad’s ego and put him on the right track.
The contributor is a student at the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Gilgit. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org