Let us pull our socks up

Nasih Ul Wadud Alam

11 July, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Let us pull our socks up

A few days ago, I read an interview of our star-player Shakib al Hasan. The southpaw batsman shared the importance of having a coach who understands his players’ lock, stock and barrel. When Hasan was not getting enough game-time in the Indian Premier League(IPL), he tried to use his spare time in shedding kilos for keeping himself fitter for the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup where he had turned the world ablaze with 606 runs at an average of 86.57 and grabbed 11 wickets at 36.27 with an economy rate shading just under 6.

How come he has had an eventful world cup? Obviously, he has elbowed his way with his sincerity and perseverance. Hasan could have spent his bench-time by washing his dirty linen in public. He did not do so. For perfecting his trigger movements, he invited his childhood coach to Mumbai during the off days. With his teacher’s advice, Hasan worked on his batting, bowling and fielding. Hasan has now risen like a phoenix.

Hasan’s performances have shown that talent is just one glass of the whole bottle of water. Talent is absolutely nothing without hard work. Many precocious children find their world topsy-turvy in adult years. Similarly, we find a lot of talented sportspeople who fail to reach the full height of their potentials. One of the reasons for their failure is they don’t put their shoulder to the wheel. They do not separate the sheep from the goats. They ignore good angels’ cautionary words. 

I started writing for Daily Sun this year from January. Some of my letters and columns were published earlier in Daily Sun and a couple of other English newspapers. The quality of my write ups was not really up to the mark--- still it is not. One thing I have understood throughout the years is---human beings should never sit on their laurels. We need to stoop to conquer. Most importantly, we need guides for helping us improve. At the beginning years, I used to feel proud of my writing. Pride is a cardinal sin. My progress is halted because of overconfidence. I should be more humble. 

I do get paid for write ups. Previously, I used to write for money. Writing is an art. It requires months and years of hard work to perfect this art. Again, there is no perfection. If we write for money, the quality of writing is bound to go down. Then, the writer is worried more about earning money, not developing his skills. Even in cultural industry, we find some artistes becoming stars overnight. Their lives are mostly blighted with glamour and frenzy. Some of them are too thin-skinned to deal with scandals. They are in awe of the situation so much so that many of them forget the years of hard work that has brought them the success they once craved. They ignore working hard. As a result, their progress is stalled. 

Money is a factor. We need money in life. I am no different either. What I am focusing more on is not money but developing myself as a writer. Now, I write to develop myself. Although it is a cliche, undoubtedly yet, there is no end to learning.

What do we need to become a better writer? We need to love writing and reading. My supervisor Dr. Prof. Rezaul Haq, Department of English, Kushtia Islamic University, told me once that a good reader can decipher from the topic sentence whether they should go through rest of the paragraphs or not. While reading, it is not possible to understand everything line by line. That is why; a reader has to pick up some key words and sentences. Finding word meanings for every difficult word is a tedious affair. Therefore, making a sense out of relatively difficult passages can be of help too. It is better if we carry a notebook comprising synonyms, antonyms and sentences extracted from the books we go through. We can follow others’ writing styles but find our own signature style. I teach one course namely Contemporary American Literature. There, we have a novel, The Color Purple written by Alice Walker. I have only six students in that MA class. We read and discuss the book in a circle. We share ideas and learn a lot from each other. When we have a small chunk of students in a literature classroom, facilitators and students do get more space to go from pillar to post with literary analysis. If we give them freedom, students feel encouraged to share their ideas. They are not worthless as many of us consider them to be. Unfortunately, they do not work hard as they should do; neither do we. We can curl ourselves up with books and also have forty winks. I wish I would read a lot from my childhood. I feel remorseful for the lost days. 

Reading in a group is really helpful. We need a society indulging in reading and writing. One of my gurus Prof. Quazi Mostain Billah, Dean, School of Liberal Arts & Social Science (SLASS), Chittagong Independent University (CIU) recently advised me to work more on collocation and the use of phrasal verbs, which I, up to that point, never considered important for developing someone’s command over a foreign language. Sometimes, he takes me to task. He does it only for my development. One has to be thick-skinned for self-development. I am zeroing in on my strengths and weaknesses. We have a lot to give and learn. Let us aspire to make this society, a society of readers and writers. I pray for my father and my literary gurus. Hopefully, they will stay alive and continue to lend their voice even from the wilderness.


The writer is lecturer, Department of English, Chittagong Independent University