Dear CIEs, Allow us to breathe


She walks out of her Psychology class with two new assignments.

Five minutes into sociology class and the news of a test next week has been broken down.

She had back to back classes today. It’s 3 o’clock. She drags herself out of the class; head heavy, bloodshot eyes.


She’s drained of energy to even go down the stairs. She had no time to eat. Last thing she remembered was munching on honey bunches at 7:10 am in the morning. Bubble gums saved the day. Yes, bubble gums saved the day.

Struggling herself to the car, she lands on her house’s porch in twenty-five minutes. Traffic, yes, headache.

The water feels cold as she washes her face. She looks at herself in the mirror, smiles, then burst out crying. Wipes her tears, she’s trying to be strong. Crisis. Existential crisis.

She sits herself on the table for lunch; hardly can swallow anything while she thinks about all she has yet to do.

Assignments. Tests. Presentations.

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Dusted with lunch, she forces herself to open her books. It’s 5 o’clock. 5 hours to the ideal bedtime.

She starts off enthusiastically, hoping to finish it all before ten. Twenty minutes in and her doe-eyes have sunken.

Two words – sleep deprived.

One hour passes by the other. She keeps trying; opens one book, then the other, then another. The quota of learning might never end, so she opens her notebook to do her assignment for she doesn’t want to get screamed at by her teacher and get labelled as an irresponsible and slothful child.

It’s 2 am. The answers of questions are too long to end. Her wrist hurts, she still keeps on writing. Sleep patterns? What sleep patterns? She has to get up again after a maximum sleep of four hours.

It’s Eid in five days. As much as an exaggerated comment, she’s actually told that ‘bari eid’ is just for kids. It’s all about sacrifice – not only sacrificing animals, it’s about sacrificing in general. She’s told that she should sacrifice her time to studying. Fun? No fun.

Where’s the colour in her life? She’s striving to find it as well. She’s burdened yet she keeps smiling. Cries in the dark.

Cries alone.

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She burns the midnight oils for two years, sometimes even three years. Sits for exams in the extreme heat. It’s result day. Her tears have a thousand questions. They question why her hard-work didn’t pay off. They question what she did wrong, where she went wrong. She remembers what she wrote. Was the examiner too strict? Was the marking too strict? Was the percentile too high? These questions malfunction her mind as she cries herself to sleep.

She wants to lead a normal life. She wants to sleep at eight and get up at six. She wants more family time. She wants to hang out with her friends more often.

It isn’t that she doesn’t want to study, but she wants to study well.

She wants to balance out her life. Educating herself is one of her top priorities, she’s just asking life to be more fair.

Dear CIEs, please, be fair.

By Arooj Yousaf

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