The Dickinsonian

Defying Myths and Surviving Expectations

Muhammad Burhan ‘21, Guest Writer

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 The most appalling view in life is to see your mother crying. Out of the three types of tears; joy, sorrow and discontent; my mother had a mix of the latter two as she entered my room.

Sadness and disappointment etched her face. I realized that she had been to see the “Peer Sahib” again…‘Peer’ is the name credited to the local spiritual guider in the subcontinent; the acting Saint of the public. Their idea is simple in return for heavy monetary contributions, the ‘Peer’ would offer spiritual healing and personal good fortune.

Being an only child, I felt the weight of expectations in the form of my parents’ hopes for my future. Not being affluent, they had scrimped and saved to provide me the best education they could, and now they saw my academic success as being vital to a better future for all of us. Adjusting in Cambridge Education System from local school had affected my examinations’ results. However, my mother became convinced that only the local Peer Sahib who promised the solutions to all “dunyawi misail” or worldly troubles through his intercession could help. Hoaxed into parting from money over repeated visits, she was mesmerized by his conviction in the hopelessness of my case unless he continued his special prayers.

Up till 10th grade, my mother and her Peer Sahib made life unbearable for me. I was subjected to tremendous stress each time my cousins got even a single mark higher than me. 

She resorted to asking the ‘Peer’ to give me a “divine push” through his prayers. Listening once again to my mother’s sobs, I decided to free her from her superstitions once and for all. “Ama, if I get good grades, you will know it was all my hard work and not Peer Sahib’s intercession”, I implored, and she reluctantly agreed to my request, largely because she had run out of money to give him. 

Working day and night and improving my time management, I finally topped my class and produced eight straight A’s in my exams. This led to a 100% scholarship to study at one of the best private schools, Roots School System. 

My journey confirmed that hard work could take someone like me who started his journey from a local school without even proper furniture to an institution with state-of-the-art facilities. The outcome put reassurance to my mother’s superstitious belief in the healer’s power. 

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Defying Myths and Surviving Expectations