Q: Let’s begin with your childhood. What was it like?
A: Born in Peshawar, I spent the first 10 years of my life here. I was a lone kid till 1st grade and due to that I developed a fondness for spending time alone in the comfort of darkness that night bestows upon us. I still find comfort in lonely dark places. I faced my own set of struggles; one of them was being a slow learner, which obviously created a lot of trouble for me during my early education. Belonging to a family of well established and self-made people, the sense of perfection always accompanied me. Though, in my opinion, perfect is a very boring term and back then I didn’t realize how imperfection is tragically beautiful.
Q: So where in life did it all begin for you?
A: The beginning for me, fortunately or unfortunately, never occurred suddenly. Even now, I’m waiting for that perfect moment, when people get inspired miraculously enough to discover or create something. That moment hasn’t occurred for me yet or maybe it’s showing its presence episodically. I was always a daydreamer; curious, imaginative and observant. Observant enough to scare people off by recalling particular moments with miniscule details, and imaginative enough to make perfect scenarios in my mind (I even used to dwell in them for a long time). Winding up, I’m still looking for that eureka moment, when things will flow in the right direction itself.
Q: You are art oriented so why did you choose Engineering during your undergraduate studies? Why didn’t you join some art school?
A: People consider Engineering as a boring subject: people wearing helmets staring at giant machines (actually nothing) or holding up a soldering gun making joints out of nowhere. Well it’s not like that (partially).
Engineering is an art in itself. I have been a curious person since childhood and I like to discover every new aspect of life. So, after discovering one form of art, I’m now shifting towards new artforms. That’s what the life of a wanderer is like!
Q: We have heard about your great interest towards poetry. What piqued your interest in Sufism, Rumi and Allama Iqbal?
A: Well I have been an avid reader since childhood and have been following many famous poets. The actual moment arose when I was preparing for the Bait Bazi (Poetry Recitation) Competition during school days back in 2007. My mother and I used to sit up till late night to search for versus and pen them down. I had to memorize around 100 versus for the competition. And do you know what the best part was? 90% of the school was in favor of my opponents and to their surprise, I won that competition. The joy of winning and exceeding everyone’s expectations was so overwhelming that I was trembling while holding the trophy.
The event came to an end but somehow left a lasting impact on me. I discovered how poets sum up a whole tale in a single word. The magic of words started to dawn upon me and to quench my thirst for this art form, I explored Allama Iqbal’s poetry and his life-work. It was then that I came to know about Rumi being a spiritual mentor of Allama Iqbal.
Speaking of spiritualism, I had very unusual aspirations from the beginning. I used to listen to Ashfaq Ahmed and Baba Yahya back in school days. So, you can deduce the results from here.
Q: What compelled you to switch towards content writing? Do you think you made the right decision?
A: During my college days, I started to write poems in Urdu. Whenever I used to hand out poems to my mentor, Sir Javed Iqbal, he used to say, “Beta hosla. Itne jaldi aap ne itne ziada likh diya hai.” (Take a breath child. You have written so many poems in such a short time.) After he passed away in a tragic incident, I couldn’t and still haven’t found a mentor for my Urdu write ups. However, while completing my undergraduate degree, I met a junior of mine, Sidra Amin. By then I had started to write poems in English. Thanks to her, she paved the path for me to be a polished poetess and I joined the Young Women Writers’ Forum, Peshawar, where I was connected with a humble mentor, Johannes-Immanuel Albrecht.
Content writing had not crossed my mind earlier. It was while working in societies that my seniors discovered this trait of mine. Meanwhile, I discovered freelancing platforms and joined Freelancer as a Content Developer. Soon after, I started working for various local websites too before joining Daastan as a freelancer. I have also worked with local and foreign organizations and platforms, including Special Olympics Pakistan, VixyBuzz and StartupDotPk.
Q: Was that something that you knew that you wanted to do when you joined this Fellowship Program, or it just happened to fit in with your larger goals?
A: The reason behind joining this program is somewhat different. I applied here upon a friend’s recommendation. I didn’t have the slightest idea about its aim then. You might have heard Paulo Coelho’s saying, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” That happened with me. My quest for innovation made me land here and it is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
Q: What role have Fellows/mentors played in shaping you?
A: It’s hard to pen down all the support I’m receiving here. Irrespective of position, everyone has always been very forthcoming to solve the issues I encounter. We live and interact like a family, focusing on achieving the goals that we have been assigned. Unlike other institutions, where there are certain rigid hierarchies, here we work together in the form a of family irrespective of our positions.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Did the Fellowship Program play any role in shaping your future?
A: That’s too early to state. I would like to forsee myself as a humble human being and an accomplished person in the field I’m pursuing right now and yes of course, an eminent author as well. The Fellowship has been and will be the biggest driver behind my career aspirations.
Q: Peeping into your life so far, have there been any moments that have made you who you are?
A: There were many fortunate and unfortunate moments which designed me. Satisfaction aka happiness is a rare phenomenon for me because I am always looking for something better. It’s not an obsession but to keep looking for something optimal occupies my mind very frequently.
Q: What is extremely important to you?
A: Spending time alone, even just for a little while is quite important. Holding a cup of coffee, gazing at the stars and weaving my future plans while standing on my balcony is the perfect rejuvenation practice for me.
Q: Any words for your team?
A: Well my team is the most lively group in this third batch and that’s what I most like about them. We work together and that’s how we learn together. We fight, we learn, we put in effort, we discuss things and most importantly, we support each other.