Looking Back I
Five years ago, five young men—amongst whom was the author of these lines—were embarking on an adventure in unknown distant territories. It was in 2013, and they were to pursue their higher education abroad. It was, they recall, their first time to travel abroad or, to be more precise, it was the first time they ever embarked on an overseas journey, an adventure across seas to a place they have heard of so little and to a culture they knew almost nothing about, except that, as they found out after a laborious search, over there people always drink milkless tea and use a lot of bread in their daily meals.
Back then, what did they look like? In a nutshell, they were young boys of average heights, serene at varying degrees, curious by nature and naturally intelligent and industrious: they were travelling overseas to study on scholarships. They were, in their specific ways, highly distinguished students, about which they would pride themselves and boast about how immensely competitive they have always been and how little their doubts were about their abilities to surmount challenges they may encounter on their adventurous journey. Oh, miserable souls, how confident that sounds! Yet one can hardly blame them. Could they have known what was awaiting them? Could they have imagined the daunting challenges they were to face? Could they have had an idea of the daily struggles, of the hardships they would have to endure? Could they have known that they were travelling not to make history, but to face its brutal and naked ignominies?
They could not have had any idea of what was to haunt them in the years to come; nor could they know that life sometimes makes us pay dearly the price for events we know nothing about, and about which we could barely understand. But they were to face that horrifying reality… A lot was awaiting them and they would have a lot to deal with, since, as if the whole world was against them, as if history had condemned to misery, and as if they were to bear the burden of the whole humanity, the journey on which they so happily embarked was rift with ineffable obstacles, unfathomable challenges, and indescribable hurdles.
Life, it seems, is a learning journey from which one never graduates…