At a young age I left my family to study in the city of Riyadh. I stayed with some of my uncles in austere and straitened circumstances . To reach my school, I had to walk thirty minutes each morning, and to come back home, thirty minutes in the sweltering heat of noon. At home, I participated in preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My duties consisted of vacuuming the house, cleaning the kitchen, and organizing the rooms. Furthermore, I worked hard in my studies and also gave time to participating in school activities. I always achieved good grades, which spurred me on to work even harder. I had only one gown in my possession, which I had to wash and iron constantly. Because of the paltry sum we received as a stipend , I wore this same garment at home, at school, and on special occasions. Bare necessities, such as money for food and rent, took up most of my money. We were all in a similar condition. so it was rare that we ever ate meat, and even rarer that we ever tasted fruit. All of us worked hard in our studies. Only once a month did I find the opportunity to relax or to go out for fun. We studied approximately seventeen subjects at school, with algebra, math, English and physics being added to our already tough courses in religion and Arabic studies. I often borrowed books on Arabic poetry from the school and would remain engrossed in them for hours at a time.
Now, as I reflect on those days I can remember that, despite all of
my difficulties, I was happy and slept with a peaceful and calm mind every night. Later on, with the blessings of Allah, I bought a nice home, I ate well, I wore different kinds of clothes, and life in general took a prosperous tum. But, despite all of this, I do not feel the same peace of mind now as I did then . More complex problems have accompanied a more complex kind of life. So don’t think that having only a little is the cause of your sadness and anxiety, because it is not true. Most people who have life’s bare necessities have a conscience more sound and an existence more peaceful than the majority of rich people.
Excerpt from “Dont be Sad”