A Dream Is All It Took

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| This is the 433rd story of Our Life Logs |


As a kid, my father used to tell me that “life is not a bed of roses,” and now I wish I would have taken him seriously. Instead, I let his words drift to my peripherals. The truth was, I was a rich kid who was handed anything and everything. I thought problems were for those who couldn’t afford a solution and sadness was for those who couldn’t buy the good things of the world. I assumed that I would never be harmed. Heaven knows how much I curse myself for having that approach.

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My name is Tauqeer Muhammad, I was born in 1989 in one of the most influential families of Karachi, Pakistan, who had strong political influence at the time. My father was a politician who was trying to make a mark among the best leaders of the country. I didn’t understand the gravity of his passion, possibly because I spent those young years as a spoiled brat when it came to money and luxuries. My mother was a housewife and a constant support to my father, my two younger brothers, and me. God knows the reason why I’m alive is because of her teachings and her faith in me.

I remember the way my mother used to be. Our family had domestic helpers whom we paid to keep the house and grounds tidy and help serve meals. Still, my mother did not relent in giving her sons chores. Anytime my brothers and I would try to pass off our chores, she would scrunch her brow and say, “Work done by the self is always finer and excellent.” She was certain in that belief. “The help is for me and your father. You will understand when your bodies age—but until then, kids should do their own work!”

I drug my feet when she gave orders, but I obliged. I knew it was my duty as the eldest. But honestly, it was never really my intent to disobey. I admired my mother—even then. She always wanted the best for her family. Her great love for me is what I loved most about living in Karachi.

Now, my family and I always wanted to move to Lahore, a much larger city in Pakistan. There would be more and better opportunities for me, but just like many other millennials, I’d never decided what I actually wanted to be. I knew that I liked photography, but simply as a hobby, a little challenge that I tossed around in my teens. For the most part, I just wanted to go with the flow. We were living in quite a wonderful time as a family, even including my father who was constantly busy with work, but it was beautiful and we were happy together. I had it all.

It’s the calm before the storm, they say. Little did I know that my life was about to change forever.

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In 2012, my parents were traveling from Karachi to Lahore. A routine trip, probably work-related. I can’t remember exactly why they needed to be in Lahore. Regardless, the two were swallowed by a horrible traffic accident. In the rubble and dripping blood, their souls split from their bodies without a chance at goodbye.

The news knocked the breath out of my lungs and into my mind. At first, I refused to believe the officers. I refused to deal with the sudden onset of grief. But, as I looked to my two younger brothers, both still in their teens and I realized that I had no other option than to embrace what was put in front of me.

In the days following this news, I felt more alone than I had ever before. Nobody came forward to help us or to comfort us, even the families of both my late parents. Rather, they jeopardized all the property my father had, and shamelessly, we were told that my father left us with nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. It was then that I realized the darkness that followed materialism and extravagance. I wanted to cry and beg for help but I could not do that as it was against my self-respect. What was ours was taken away from us. All my life, I was with. Until I was without.

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My education was left in the in-between and my life had drastically fallen apart. The legalities, the home, the bills, and the long list of numbers and debts and this-and-that—it was all piled on top of an already heavy heart. We were forced to move out of our home. I was so torn and damaged to the extent of killing myself. I could not have done that because my brothers needed me. They needed me to find a safe place for them to sleep at night and to be a person they could trust.

And then the light shone in. My mother’s sister did not have much to offer us, as she was not married into a wealthy family, but she gave me and my brothers refuge. For a year, we bounced between her home and the streets, fending to only just survive while we continued processing this emptiness. Those days were so poor. Often, we would just eat ketchup and bread because we could not afford anything else. I managed, just barely, to graduate with my bachelor’s degree. I did not expect it to feel so hopeful and useless at the same time.

Finally, my aunt took me aside one day and said that she knew I could do better and be better. She told me that I was going to become the best version of myself because that was what my mother and father would have wanted.

Her words were like honey. More than anything, I wanted to become the Tauqeer my mother wanted me to be. So, with some of my savings, I resumed my brothers’ education and took the little that was left over and moved to Lahore in 2015. We’d always wanted to move there. Now, it was time.

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I found a small boys’ hostel to live in and started with small businesses to earn bread and pay my hostel dues while trying to figure out what I actually wanted to do. I started with purchasing CPOs and laptops and reselling them, but there were times when I couldn’t pay my dues. So, I would drive rickshaw to feed myself and my brothers, plus, it gave me shelter for the time I was driving.

I was not living the quality of life I had wished for myself, so I thought of continuing with my education. With the little money I had earned, the good GPA I had secured, and the Almighty God, I got into a university and started preparing for my master’s degree.

Maybe it was my mother smiling on me, maybe it wasn’t, but when I sought the best version of myself, kindness and a little luck pulled me up.

While I was talking to a friend from childhood one day, he said that he remembered that I had always been good at photography and that maybe I should look into pursuing it again. I didn’t think it would go anywhere, but his kind words were a confidence boost.

Furthermore, one day after class, my professor asked me once if I was interested in photography. At first, I was taken aback, but then I thought back to my conversation with my friend. I told him that photography was not something I planned on making my passion or key to my bread, but I was thinking about trying my luck with it again to help with bills. Then, he offered me a DSLR that he owned, not just to borrow—he asked me to keep it.

It was then that I dug back into my past. I uploaded all my previous work onto an online portfolio, thinking it might get me some extra work to help pay my tuition. It was just a small wish—not even a dream—but it gave me my happiness back.

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As I began taking pictures and adding to my portfolio, I approached studios and worked for them as well, but neither of them paid me much. However, this side-project was turning into a passion. I knew that it was a start to something big and new and that one day, life would amazingly change for me as well.

I created my own page, sought my own contacts, and eventually, partnered with Studio Panache, a photo studio based in Pakistan known for its amazing photography. After I started there, the hard knot that was holding my life loosened its grip a bit. I was able to keep my brothers with me in the same hostel and afford their education and other expenses.

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One of the photographs I took at a wedding.

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I went through a lot in life, suffered through setbacks back to back, but I did not let my misery get the best of me. With years of diligence, and kindness, and remembering the words of my mother (Taqueer, work done by the self is always finer and excellent), I am standing here in my own success. Although, this is still not the limit.

 

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This is the story of Tauqeer Muhammad

Growing up in a rich family in Pakistan, Taqueer was given anything and everything he could want. It was when his parents died suddenly in a car accident that he realized the importance of people and passion. After losing his home and being left with nothing, Taqueer worked his way to a new dream and a happy life once more. Tauqeer now successfully runs his photo studio. He has a great fan following and the reviews are pretty rave. He wants to keep succeeding and wants a to buy a small house for his family. He’s looking forward to getting married as soon as he buys a house and finds the right girl.

 

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This story first touched our hearts on September 25, 2019.

| Writer: Noor Pasha | Editor: Colleen Walker |

 


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To protect the privacy of the storyteller and those involved in this retelling, some of the names may have been changed. (1)

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