To my friend, on the occasion of her graduation
May 17, 2002
A few years ago, I was watching a show where a famous Canadian author, Mordecai
Richler, was giving a speech to a group of university students on the occasion of
their graduation. In his speech, he jokingly said "If you are looking for a
piece of advice, look no more, for when I was 23 and leaving University, I thought
I knew everything. When I turned 50, I had learnt that I knew nothing."
Well, my friend, though I agree with Richler for the most part and though the journey
of life has more often than not , left me mesmerized, my little graduation note will
be a little lengthier than Richler's.
It must have been almost 17 years ago, when you were
all but this little baby in the hands of your mother in that dreaded night, when
we were all but these hopeless people, absorbing the shock of the bombs that shattered
our neighbourhood. You and all the little kids were crying and looking around puzzled
at what all these grown ups had done and the rest of us were all but numb, standing
in the black dust.
It was one of those moments in life that makes one wonder why he or she was spared
and others were not. It was one of those nights that makes one wonder about all the
hatred that ravages this world and about humanity as a whole. It was one of those
moments that one has to work hard to shake off or digest.
The next 17 years, saw us go through the biggest transformations in our individual
lives as we marched away along with our families in a journey through this rugged
, beautiful and massive rock we call our world. We were the children of the vision
of the mollas and shahs on the other side of this rock and we soon became the children
of the visions of Trudeau, Pearson and Diefenabker.
We were born and accustomed to the bends and curves of the rivers of the other side
of this world but now, we had to learn to swim in the waters of this side of our
planet. 17 years later, after much learning and re-adjusting, here we are now, slowly
nearing a milestone of your little young life, having swam the waters of this side
of the world.
For weeks I had been searching for something to say
or to give to mark this point in your life, but I couldn't find just the right thing
to say or to do. I guess like Richler, life has roughed up my edges too. But then,
my friend, you left me speechless and sometimes, it is easier to find the words describing
The other day, I came home and learned that you were picked as the number one student
in your school. Of course, that was no big surprise. I had seen you work so hard
that my reputation as the keener in the family had long vanished. I have spoken to
you about rather in-depth topics, knowing full well, you are quite well-versed for
your young age.
For you to be on top of the best school of one of Canada's main provinces, was no
surprise. But then I heard, that you had voluntarily and without the knowledge of
the other person, had decided to share this honor with the second best person in
your school. I was delighted my friend that after going through the journey of our
lives, you had such capacity for sharing and bringing smile and joy to other people's
So, this is to you my dear friend. This is to you and everyone who gives hope. This
is to you and all those who become empowered and still have the heart to walk with
the less powered! In this milestone of your life, you showed that there is a little
hero in you, a little Takhti, a little inspiration for others to look upto.
Of course, some people may call it a silly sentimental decision. Some people who
have gone through the rough roads of life, may say that you should grab every title
and honor that comes your way without a second thought. Some people who have been
hurt one time too many by life, may consider your decision a bit too emotional or
naive. And maybe in their own way, they are right.
But if I can manage to put aside my Richler negativity and to come up with an advice
for the long road ahead of you, is to keep that heart, to keep that spirit of that
moment when you made that decision.
There will be some people who will come in your life
in the university and post-school life that will make you sick to your stomach. There
will be those that will break your heart and twist and turn it. And maybe the same
girl that will stand next to you tomorrow in your grad, will turn against you in
the future or even more likely, become a distant memory, a little drop in the ocean
of your life.
But having gone through this same journey, at least in my humble opinion, none of
these matter, for if it was not for the ones who have had the courage to do good
in this world, our human civilization would not have survived the wrath of those
who decided to do otherwise.
So, shoot as high as you can and dream as big as you want and keep following the
path you have set out for yourself so nicely, but as you move up and on, as your
ego grows with every title and honor and milestone of your life, keep that little
heart of that day and nurture it.
Thinking back to that fateful night some 17 years ago and looking around our world
today, we need hearts like that more than anything else.