Midwest Book Review of Damn the Novel
August 19, 2019
Who Invented the Novel?
August 29, 2019

(From a speech delivered at Brighton College)


When I was at high school, and even just before sitting for the Secondary School Certificate examinations, I was not sure about my future career, and accordingly I was able (precisely, forced) to select my discipline only few days before the deadline for submission of certificates required for admission to universities.

Within the first university days, the Math professor asked us to complete a task and submit the homework in a couple of days. Homework again! I thought university study would be more casual or, in other words, a liberal environment with open-minded teaching approach. Mobile phones were not yet invented! Accordingly, and as I was studying far away from my family, I had to go to the telecommunications central office to make a three minutes telephone call informing my mother (a typical childish attitude which I managed to enjoy!) that I eventually made my decision to quit engineering and resubmit my certificates for Arabic Literature studies. That was of course a shocking message for her, but she smartly asked me to wait for a couple of months until the end of the first semester while finalizing the re-submission process for Literature College. Being an obedient boy, I accepted that, and by the end of the semester, I found myself totally adapted to the new environment, enjoying university journey and managing all difficulties including nonstop homework.

Suddenly (after five years!), I found myself graduated, with an engineering degree in my hand, a draft of my collection of poems in the other hand, and with the future wife in my heart (an untypical love story of university days).

I started my practical journey looking for a job in two, more specifically three, different careers: Electrical Engineering, Writing (mainly Journalism), and Hardware Engineering, as I got a chance for training in this field immediately after graduation.

While trying to get a job opportunity in one of the influential newspapers in a prominent Arab capital, the managing editor asked me surprisingly: Why are you here? This is not an attractive career, we are just employees, this part of the world needs more people in practical fields, and you’d better stick to your engineering discipline. That was not a big shock to me since I listened to such typical tones lots of times. A few days later, the managing editor was generous enough to recommend my essays to be published successively in the regional renowned newspaper. Moreover, a few weeks later, I found myself taking (imagining?) a decision quite similar to what I had taken during the first days in university study: To stop totally searching for an Engineering job and focus absolutely on Writing career.

I felt happy and contented after what I considered a crucial and courageous decision. Nevertheless, and around a week later, I received a telephone call from a senior colleague, whom I happen to consider as a mentor in Engineering field, asking me to attend an interview for an Electrical Engineering vacancy in a prestigious organization. That was the shocking piece of news, but I could not object, taking into account my prolonged unemployment period, and with special consideration to my mentor’s sincere efforts and feelings.

I went to the interview with the least attention I ever had in previous similar occasions, praying that I do not get the job. I attended the interview with that emotional and mental stand, and I got the job!

Suddenly again, I found myself imposed to readjust my emotions and rearrange my practical priorities. I had to put writing on hold for a while, but not so long later on I found myself eager to sit in front of my favorite table and write my essays.

It was not easy in the beginning to stick to a specific prescheduled timing, but I forced myself to a timetabled session once a week at least, where I used to push myself from the TV sofa towards my modest office – even if I am not in the right mood – and start writhing. Regardless of how long it used to take, I managed not to leave the table until I finish the writing task. That was of course side by side with other work and family responsibilities.

In order to succeed working hard in two different careers one has to be lucky. I am privileged with a tolerant family. I sit with them in front of the TV as if I am not there. They talk to me while I am usually absent-minded. They try habitually three time to drag my attention, and may be three times more before I respond: Pardon me? And after repeating the question for further three times, they receive eventually an answer from me: I do not know!

I am fortunate with my big family. My father passed away around two years ago but he still inspires me. My mother, brothers and sisters offer me a practical definition of “Love” as I referred to in my book “Wisdom Highway”. I defined “Love” there as “An unconditional and unlimited service”, and my big family provide me continuously with such a service.

You must be lucky as well, just look around and see what you are already lucky with. Do not wait to discover your luck by just staying idle. Get up…search for your luck… fetch it…and enjoy it.

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