Our car slowed as we neared an ensemble of farms. Excited, I glanced out of the window. Dung covered mud-houses beckoned in the distance, chickens loitered on the unpaved paths, and a farmer, using his brawn to accelerate his bullock cart, welcomed us to our home village. The farmer promptly ushered us to a nearby mud-house.
After spending some time with the farmer, I realized that he was my maternal grandfather who I was meeting for the first time. Amazed by the blithe nature of my grandfather, I entered into a discussion with him.
His nonchalant ignorance was as remarkable as his rudimentary knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know little. Upon my quoting Shakespeare he inquired in the naivest way possible about who he might be. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found out that he was ignorant of the Copernican theory. That any civilized human being in the twenty-first century should not be aware that the earth circumnavigated the sun appeared as such an extraordinary anachronism to me that I could hardly realize it. To placate myself, I started enlightening him about the Copernican theory.
“You seem to be astonished,” he said, putting up a content smile. “Now that I do know about the Copernican theory, I shall do my best to forget it”.
“To forget it!” I exclaimed.
“You see,” he commenced to explain, with a vibe of self-sufficiency, “I consider that a man’s brain is like an empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. An educated fool takes in all the superfluous lumber that he comes across, so that the knowledge that might be useful to him gets crowded out. Now the skillful layman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. It is therefore important to cull the information that is important to us, before devouring it”
“But the solar system!!” I protested. “What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently.
“You say that we go around the sun. If we went around the moon, it would not make a penny worth of difference to me or to my work”.
Spell bound and awed, I realized that my educational journey was only a miniature in a vast array of things known as life. I discerned that mere academic education does not make a man prudent; it is the concoctions of our day-to-day experiences that help us learn from our mistakes, giving us standpoints for brighter futures. By ignoring the cynics’ derogatory remarks, I could focus on the positivity that I had kept locked for years. I could wade through the belittling circumstances, unfazed, pursuing all of my passions and forming sublime synergy to unravel my talents. Images of myself being lauded for exemplifying optimism in a tumultuous Pakistan swarmed my head.
Surprisingly, it felt good to see the ironic reversal of roles: my uneducated grandfather as the enlightened luminary and I, as the educated but benighted amateur.