I have always been intelligent, from primary school through to secondary school and college. Whilst at college I wasted time playing pool and missing classes. I wish I could go back in time and work harder for my A-levels. But what is done is done. I ended up at university where I studied English and Politics.
Enjoying Uni Life
I had a couple of friends at university who were more interested in having a good time than studying. I will be honest, in my first year at university my friends and I spent our time trying out different takeaway food on the curry mile in Manchester and visiting the cinema and playing pool at the student union.
In the second year of my degree I began to study intensively and spent time revising with my South African friend, Godfrey. He was a very intelligent and diligent student. He had actually won a scholarship in South Africa so all his expenses had been paid for.
In my final year at University I wrote my 12000 word dissertation about American foreign policy. I would spend seven hours each day in the university library. I learnt so much throughout my final year and enjoyed every minute. I met many interesting people on my course such as an ex-politician from Zimbabwe who had been tortured by Robert Mugabe’s government.
After graduating with a 2:1 I wanted to carry on with my studies and do an MA but it wasn’t financially viable. While at university I worked part time for a newspaper, writing articles and editing. I enjoyed the writing and researching aspects of journalism. I therefore decided to pursue a career in journalism.
But I needed to do a postgraduate course before I could work as a journalist. To fund myself I had to get a job. I searched for a job from office jobs, supermarket jobs to professional jobs. My applications were mainly unsuccessful, but I finally got a response from a factory close to home. It was a warehouse job, doing manual labour, but a job is a job so I accepted.
I was in a team of Indians and Pakistanis who taught me a work ethic that I still live by. Between breaks they would work non- stop whether the supervisor was there or not. They wouldn’t rest even for a minute. But they would be cheerful and joke with each other all the time.
Faced By Bigots
It was at the factory where I faced bigotry for the first time. My team asked for permission to pray at break times, taking no more than five minutes, but the management wouldn’t give us permission. We asked to use the cleaners room, or the empty office or anywhere in the huge building, but they wouldn’t permit it.
Eventually, three of us decided to pray in the car park in the cold and rain. Even though employers are bound by law to provide prayer facilities, we weren’t granted a prayer area.
“I eventually lost my job, I was fired I feel, because of my campaign for a prayer area.”
This went on for a while; it was at this point I started studying Arabic and Islamic studies. I enjoyed learning Arabic though I was already tri-lingual, Arabic is for me, one of the most beautiful languages.
I eventually lost my job, I was fired I feel, because of my campaign for a prayer area. I can say wholeheartedly that I gave hundred percent to the job like my team members and was sacked unfairly. After I lost the job there was no-one who could fight for the right to pray.
Anyway, I continued studying every day and was happy although I wasn’t working, so I read intensively in my extra free time. At this point I started going through financial difficulties and I began to experience the initial stages of my mental illness. Have you faced bigotry and racism?
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