‘Agar pyasa kunway ke paas nahi ja sakta tou kunwa aye ga pyasay ke paas’ (If the thirsty can’t go to the well, the well will itself come to the thirsty). This is the mantra around which Hiba Masood has designed her life. She describes herself as a delightful person; someone who is interesting, creative, dynamic, and a fighter to the core. But her feelings couldn’t be further from delight after the rejection she faced from the world because her son was a special child. Countless schools, both in Pakistan and abroad, refused to admit her son. One school went to the extent of admitting him and then, after observing him behaving differently in a subsequent meeting, proceeding to return the fee and telling Hiba and her husband that they don’t want their son. That is when the parable about the thirsty person and the well, spoken by her mother, took over Hiba’s life and changed it completely.
Instead of running after schools and institutions she decided to become part of the solution. She started home-schooling her son and helped in setting up ‘Veritas Learning Circle’, Karachi’s first alternative progressive learning space, and an after school enrichment center for children called ‘Happy Place’. The writer in her rose again with a passion and she started blogging under the pseudonym ‘Drama Mama’. So amazing was her experience of home-schooling her son that she decided to continue doing the same with her two younger daughters as well. Now, with more than 20 thousand followers on her ‘Drama Mama’ page, home-schooling three kids under the ages of 7, running ‘Happy Place’, and being a consultant for Liberty Books, Hiba Masood is living what most of us can only dream of – a self-actualized life.
Hiba speaks about her challenges as part and parcel of her successes. Her son, while being a challenge, is the light of her life and has been the inspiration behind her truly finding her purpose. “My challenges have been pertaining to raising him but at the same time wherever I am today is because of that. And trying to understand him and raise him is what made me a writer. Writing is my art and he is my heart so they kind of both came together and are the two biggest gifts of my life.”
Hiba, while qualifying that home-schooling may not be for everyone, is a big proponent of breaking the shackles of a rigid syllabus. “I didn’t send my other two children to regular school because it has been one of the best decisions I have made. It’s liberating, child-led - the kind of education that anyone, if they tried it, would want to give to their kids. The day my kids are interested in space we are exploring galaxies. The day they are interested in how much things weigh, we spend the week weighing everyone and everything we can find. This kind of immersive learning is not possible in schools today. The curriculum is top down. It doesn’t matter what your child is interested in, you have to study what you are being told to study. Why would I leave this kind of freedom for that rigidity? My kids are learning, reading, writing, and it doesn’t matter at what age they do it. It’s not an accomplishment that my son was reading at 2 and daughter is doing addition at 4. I’m just happy they are exploring their love for learning - something that schools talk about but miss out on.”
“It’s the difference between lying in bed at night surrounded by family you love but feeling suffocated and trapped because you don’t know who you are, and the feeling of absolute freedom because you have yourself figured out,” says Hiba when asked what independence means to her. She speaks about how she struggled with her writing, her relationships, and her life in general because she was letting other people validate what she does. “I gave too much power to other people. Approval or validation was what made me happy and I really suffered consequences. Now I have decided that no one else makes me happy, I make me happy and that is what emotional independence is. Don’t give anyone else the power to approve of who you are and how you feel. That has been my biggest lesson in my 30s and I would advise it to anyone. If they have power to make you happy, they have power to make you unhappy. I don’t want to be influenced manipulated or lovingly controlled by anyone anymore.” And with the passion and determination Hiba exudes, we have no doubt that anyone will ever stand in the way of her happiness and success.