The beginning of a new life: My first year at PakTurk

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The beginning of a new life: My first year at PakTurk

Muzamil Shahzad (left first, standing) with his friends at the PakTurk Schools dormitory in Lahore.

Muzammil Shahzad, who graduated from the Lahore PakTurk College in 2012, wrote his school memoirs for the PakTurkFile. In the first part, he narrated how he took admission in 2005, his teachers that year, and the interesting events he experienced at the PakTurk School and in the dormitory.

Part One:

I was in the English class at noon on a Friday in 2005. Teacher Mahmood entered the classroom and told the students with an average of over 80 to come to school the next day. “The Turkish school will hold a scholarship test,” he added. When I came home, my elder brother had broken the news. Teacher Mahmood had also told my brother. He would take the exam too. My elder brother Mubashir would take the exam for the 9th grade and I for the 6th grade. Our school was the second most successful public school in Lahore. It also had its advantages. For example, the medium of instruction was English and our teachers were very good. The next day, Saturday, we went to school. From there, they took us to a public school in Islampura in a minibus. We gave the test and returned home.

A few weeks later, the honour list was announced, and that day was probably the happiest day of my life, because two people from our school had passed the test. Those two were me and my brother. The vice principal of our school called us and congratulated us. He said we would sit for an interview that weekend. I somehow passed the test. It was the first time in my life I would be interviewed. I didn’t know what to do. My brother helped me with that. He told me as much as he knew and told me to ‘take it easy’.

On another Saturday, we went to the Islampura branch of the PakTurk Schools with another teacher. There, my dear mentor Brother Hüseyin, Mr. Lokman and Mr. Emre asked me effective questions. Mr. Emre mostly evaluated our English proficiency, while the other two teachers asked general knowledge questions. My interview went better than I expected.

PakTurk branch in Raiwind Road, Lahore, where Muzamil studied.

Memories in that wonderful dormitory never cease by telling

Interview results were announced within a week, and we learned that we two brothers passed the interviews. From that point on, we had to go to visit the PakTurk school in Gulberg with our family. I, my elder brother and my father went to the school. There, Mr. Lokman (vice principal) explained all the details and said the classes would start in a week. That day we toured our prospective school. It was a beautiful place. They had transformed a bungalow into a school. The classrooms were small but spacious. The building had a garden in the front and our classrooms were upstairs. Just behind the school, another bungalow was to be the dormitory. It was as if they had just rented that building because its boundary wall had just been broken. The bungalow, which would become the dormitory, was also large and beautiful. Downstairs were the labs and upstairs were the dormitory rooms. After a year, even that building would not come enough for us. The gardens of the school and the dormitory were full of trees.

A week later, we settled in the dormitory along with 23 other students-on-scholarship like me and my brother. There, we met with our mentors Brothers Hüseyin and Yusuf, and our dormitory manager Mr. Doğan. Mr. Doğan had a small room on the ground floor. We have so many and endless memories in that beautiful dormitory. That dormitory and that school were our first steps to a new life.

Our teachers supported us at school during the day and at the dormitory at night

I still remember that our school principal, Mr. Turgut came to the dormitory and led the prayer on our first night there. His Qur’anic recitation was wonderful. I later learned he was a graduate of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. I still remember the names of all the teachers I met there. Each has a special place in my mind and heart. Mr. Gökhan’s lectures on physics and his spectacular projects had always attracted my attention and made me love physics. His wife, Mrs. Mine, was one of the best biology teachers I’ve ever seen. Teacher Mine’s handwriting was wonderful. My English teacher was Mr. Emre and my Turkish teacher I will never forget was Mr. Doğan. They were all very hardworking. They helped us a lot. They supported us during the day at the school and in the evenings in the study sessions at the dormitory. If it were not for the efforts of these teachers, getting used to the lessons and our new school would have been much more difficult for us. These teachers I mentioned were my sixth-grade teachers, in the first year of my new life at PakTurk.

I had many good memories at that school. Playing football in a manner no different than a scene from the Turkish movie Hababam Sınıfı (The Chaos Class) in the front garden, swaying rackets in fast-action table tennis after the studies at the dormitory, or the beautiful friendships we made, these beautiful memories pass before my eyes like golden threads.

Muzamil Shahzad (first right) was among PakTurk’s achievements students.

I will never forget when I and a few friends were studying late at night, we came upon an idea. There was only one wall clock in the study hall, we changed its setting. While it was 1:00 AM, we changed it to 5:00 AM. Later, we woke all our friends in the dormitory for the fajr (pre-dawn) prayer. Some of us pretended to be kneeling after offering the ‘sunnah’ of the fajr and some rushed to wake up the dorm folk again and again. One friend, Shamroz, woke up and rushed to the washroom, again wishing to be ‘the first person to perform ablution’. Another friend, Asif, immediately made his bed. We all laughed among ourselves for half an hour when they finally realized they had been woken up early. I still laugh at their plight when I think of it.

They were sad as if something had happened to their own children

Another good memory was when Mr. Gökhan invited me to his house. It was a very modest but beautiful house. Likewise, I still have not forgotten how Mr. Ahmet opened the doors of his house to us and loved us like his own children. These are the things I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Another incident from the sixth grade was the day I broke my arm. In the middle of the night, I broke my arm in a small accident. Brother Hüseyin, Mr. Musa and Mr. Aslam took me to the Defence Hospital. The staff said no doctor was available because of the last hours. We rushed to another hospital and there they placed my arm in a cast. I still remember the uneasiness on the faces of my teachers that night. They were anxious as if something had happened to their own children. When I came back that night, one teacher who realized I had no shoes on my feet gave me his own shoes. What a night it was!

To be continued…

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