KARACHI: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is one of my most prized possessions. Hands down, it’s more than just a book – it’s an account I related to on more than one echelon. It offers exquisite acumen on the significance of pursuing your childhood dreams. In the book, Randy discusses his childhood dream of becoming an NFL player (just like I wanted to play soccer professionally!). Though he could not accomplish that particular dream, he got more from chasing that vision, than he did from many of the ones he did in fact accomplish. Now that’s the kind of stuff that transports chills down my spine. And today when I’m an editor, I relate to that inkling.
The lessons I learnt from my soccer coach like solidarity, collaboration, loyalty and sportsmanship has facilitated me to enhance my senses in a lot of other capacities. And that’s why Randy’s book instills indisputable emotion within me because I relate to his story. Someone else, very recently, evoked a similar sentiment in me – think goose bumps and a gush galore of sensitivity – was Mahira Khan. Now you must be speculating as to how any of this is correlated – but hang in there, because it is.
Mahira recently spoke at Aga Khan University’s Special Lecture Series and left me speechless. The stunning megastar imparted hope to countless. From opening up about her own lifelong dream of working alongside Shah Rukh Khan to maintaining a relationship with her Amma amid a jam-packed schedule, the Raees star was as real as real can get. In all honestly, there’s nothing ‘reel’ about her. She was raw, unmasked and unveiled to onlookers and listeners, her own tussles with life. Now that’s beyond emotionally stimulating.
Maybe that’s what sets her apart from the rest. Maybe that’s why I relate to her more than any other public figure in the industry.
She poured not just her heart, but her soul out and communicated with optimism – effortlessly in a tranquil fashion. On that podium, she was nothing short of being an ambassador of peace. She spoke for a while and there was nothing even remotely deleterious or negative about her tale. She valued the Pakistani industry for being superbly accepting of her as she commenced acting at 24 which isn’t the norm usually, and she gave credit to Bollywood for treating her with utmost reverence and adoration. As she spoke, she radiated a sense of purity and fragility. Talk about being human right?
The Bol beauty answered every question the crowd hurled at her with a light-hearted panache. She was authentic and forthcoming – she was not Pakistan’s bombshell Mahira Khan exhorting on life, she was a person sharing fragments of her own existence – she was the person I know well and wholly relate to.
Speaking to her casually, she just shared, “I wanted to answer every question with out-and-out honesty, which I did. At the end of the day, I want to transmit a culture of hope and the importance of pursuing your dreams.” She said in her talk that “the formula to success is that there is no formula” – Mahira embedded in me the thought that when we start embracing the journey and the lessons learnt from following our dreams, it becomes a piece of cake to work our way towards their accomplishment. One has to have faith in ourselves and the support of friends and family. She gave me a formula: one of morality and integrity. Not only am I enamoured by the person that she is (I have been for a long time, which she knows very well!) but she surprises me every time.
After her AKU talk, a bunch of publications took smithereens of her words and portrayed them in a fashion I didn’t appreciate. I heard every syllable she articulated and the way it was projected was just plain off beam. She wasn’t complaining that she didn’t get the “introducing credit”; she wasn’t grouchy about the fact that neither Bol, nor Raees granted her that one thing she’s been aspiring for – nope not one bit. Her idea was to inculcate courage, faith and confidence amidst the youth – one that bawled: “don’t let anything stop you; keep going regardless of what life throws at you – because the notion is to gain knowledge”.
When I was upset about publications misreporting, Mahira calmed me down. She wasn’t perturbed and confessed to me, “If I had my way, I wouldn’t want anyone to write about me – good or bad. I just want to be true to myself because intentions matter, and my purpose for that talk was to motivate anybody listening and reassure them that ‘it will be okay’ no matter what they might be going through. If I was able to provide hope to even one person out there, my mission has been accomplished.” I interrogated myself as to why no one picked up on her splendid views on feminism and women empowerment; why did no one talk about her ridiculously witty sense of humour; why didn’t anyone pay heed to her statement that “we’re all the same – we mourn and celebrate alike”; why? I asked myself.
She didn’t want to give any explanation or clarification about the misreporting that followed her emotionally illuminating talk because her loved ones in Pakistan and in India know her well enough to recognise what she meant. I know I did.
I want to ask the global society that we have created, a question: why do we always leave out the virtuous and the decent, and feed off any splinter of pessimism we can find, only to spark a needless debate the world can live without?
Makes you think right? I still am.
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