The children of friends we saw growing up are securing their first professional jobs post-graduation. Proper jobs. Real jobs. Jobs, if the Most Merciful wills, at the start of illustrious careers. I’m happy for them. I’m happy too that they get in touch to share their wonderful news.

By now, I should be twenty-two years into my own illustrious career, already mentoring the next generation. Reality is less satisfying. Three years after graduating from an MPhil programme, I was working in an internet cafe, then a warehouse, then a restaurant, wrapped in irregular freelance work. Even today, I am ashamed of those years, bringing in a meagre wage. I’m so sorry that I lacked the ambition to go out and turn my fortunes around. God bless my wife for her patience.

My fortunes began to change around 2004. Friends offered me careers advice and helped me discover openings. Slowly but surely I began to make progress, though I have never credited myself for this. Whatever came my way, it was only through the mercy of my Lord. Even now, I think myself an impostor. All I can do is utter praises of the One.

And there is no creature on earth but that upon God is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a clear register.

Quran 11:6

As for those that come after me, I can only hope that they develop self-confidence and self-belief. If higher and further education doesn’t bestow self-confidence, I don’t know what it is worth. For our own children, I can only pray that they grow up to believe they can achieve anything, inshallah. For them what is theirs, for me what is mine.

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