Sep 8, 2012

Personal Statement

By Zoha Jabbar

At the age of six, I got my first taste of fame when I was selected to play the part of the swan in my first grade production of "The Ugly Duckling". Not the disliked duckling that gradually grew into a swan, no. Just directly, the beautiful and popular swan. The star of the show. I walked up the stage, waddled my behind, recited a little poem and exulted in my ten minutes of glory. As all the parents in the audience "oohed" and "aahed", exclaiming at my cuteness, I felt my face flush with pride, and I dazzled the crowd with a "take-my-picture" smile.

Soon, I learned that the swan role was only given to me because I was taller than all the other ducklings. What should have been a humbling thought, bringing me back down to earth, turned instead into outrage and determination. I was not ready to give up my place in the limelight, I could not let the oohs and aahs fade into a memory that echoed off the walls of my mind. I had to find a new talent: I was a fat child who hated sports, I could not play any instrument, my singing was horribly off-key, and my painting was painfully mediocre. But when I picked up my first fountain pen at the tender age of eight, and I traced out the words my grandfather dictated to me, "Whose woods are these I think I know," I felt magic in each curve of each letter. And I knew, I was addicted.

I discovered a voracious appetite for books, and by the age of eleven I had devoured my grandfather's entire library, still I hungered for more.I began to fall in love with words, I would say them out loud, tasting them on my tongue, relishing the sound. I was awed by the magic they could create. My writing improved drastically once I discovered the power they held. I was transforming, growing, discovering my own "voice". Every assignment I got back with glowing comments, every time I was asked to read an essay out loud to the class, every A; those became my "oohs" and "aahs". Once again, I was the beautiful swan, taller than all the mere ducklings. But this time I knew I was destined for more than reciting a two line poem and waddling my bottom. I was a writer.

My first year in A levels, I discovered the beauty of slam poetry. The freedom, the stretching of boundaries, the joy of non-conformity. When I stepped onstage with my poem, I heard the galaxies draw a collective breath and stop to watch me perform. No stage performance had ever given me a rush of adrenaline as this one did, because I was not performing just any piece. I was performing MY piece. I was reaching into my very core, making myself completely vulnerable as I stood before the crowd armed with nothing but my words. It was exhilarating

I started to write a blog, where I could be free to write what I wanted; to explore different styles and to push limits, not be restricted by what the CIE examinations wanted me to write. I interacted with other writers and discovered where I went wrong or what I did well. I was approached by iPakistan, an organisation working towards creating a more positive image of Pakistan, and showing the world what the country is truly about. I began as a regular contributor, and was soon made the Editor of Literature for their website. After this, I was asked to write a fictional series for Romancing the Border, a similar endeavor aiming to achieve peace between India and Pakistan. My writing was no longer just for me, or for grades; it was serving a larger purpose. It helped me reach out to the world and show them the colors of my country. 

I want to do this for the rest of my life, I cannot see myself doing anything but. I want to learn more about the beauty and power of words, to see what else I can do with them. I want to discover more about the way I write, to push myself to test new waters. I want to feel the magic in every stroke of my pen. I want to write.


Sana Rizwan said...

Zoha, I'm falling a little in love with you.

Zoha said...

Trust me, Sana, I've been in love with you since last year <3

Reja Y said...

LOVE this. SO relateable :)

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