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I started writing when I was nine. Those were the days when school teachers were very conscientious, and even government schools had good teachers. For many years, students of government schools used to top in matric examinations. Later, after schools and colleges were nationalized, the standard of education deteriorated and once (in the days of Benazir Bhutto), we saw a school principal who couldn't sign his name asking the education department to give him a loan.

English newspapers in the 1950s gave many opportunities to children who wanted to write. I would submit stories to the Morning News, Dawn and other newspapers, which were seldom rejected. As I grew up, my teachers encouraged me in every possible way. I grew up in a house full of books (my father was a lawyer who loved to read both fiction and non-fiction). Besides two morning newspapers, he subscribed to three eveningers, and magazines like the Readers Digest, Life and Saturday Evening Post. In such an atmosphere, I came to love reading and writing, and felt an indescribable pleasure whenever I saw my name in print.

People often ask me, "How do you find the time to write?" I want to tell them that to me writing is as easy as talking, but I know they will not understand. Most people would do anything to escape writing. Some even refer to me as "That nut who has a lot of time on his hands". Apparently,the thought of composing a simple letter is enough to drive them crazy.

Then there are those who say, "How does one become a writer?" The answer, of course, is that one should read and write as much as possible. As I said, I grew up when good books were cheap and plentiful, teachers would read aloud to their pupils, and often we were given a subject and asked to make a speech on it after ten minutes of thinking about it. Teachers today are not trained for this kind of thing. But despite all this, most of my class fellows never learnt to write. Perhaps I was genetically disposed towards expressing myself well. Not all people are so lucky.

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