Meet Khushbakht Memon, a girl who as we can say in much simpler language has literary dreams. A girl who is confident, bold and is not shy to be different. Recently Trending in Pakistan interviewed Khushbakht Memon about her future goals, achievements and her dreams.

Wednesday for Women- Books and Beyond:

TIP:  Give us a little bit of introduction of yourself.

Khushbakht: My name is Khushbakht Memon, popularly known in my friends as Khushu.   I’m a logophile and I am obsessed with literature and poetry and I also love performing and I’m a struggling spoken word artist. I am currently a student of SZABIST, Karachi. Doing BS Social Sciences, majoring in Sociology. I studied from grade 1 till grade 12 in St. Bonaventure’s High School, Qasimabad, Hyderabad.

TIP: What are some of your greatest achievements until now?

Khushbakht: Since my school days I have been a part of various literary and community-related ventures. From elocution contests to speech contests and plays: I have done it all. I also have worked for school and university newsletters. I also founded a society at SZABIST which was created to promote the heritage of Sindh, cultural harmony and secularism. Apart from that, I have been a part of forums like Self Projections and currently a Karachi Chapter overseer for Young Women Writers Forum.

I am one of the founders of a literary club based in Hyderabad called Books & Beyond, which has been active since May 2016. The last project that I passionately worked on was a mental health initiative called Listening Booth. I am working towards being a mental health facilitator in future and I am working diligently to spread awareness against the stigma related to mental illness and other issues in society through digital media and other platforms.

I was selected for an undergrad exchange program during my undergrad degree and I spent a whole semester in the USA during Spring 2016 for that. Recently I was selected to be a part of a fully funded residential program at IBA on Citizen Journalism. I recently went as a trainer to Hyderabad for an event on women empowerment called “Empowering Women in Media and Journalism (EWIMJ)”.

Khushkbakht’s personal life:

TIP:  Tell us a little bit about your family and friends?

Both of my parents are self-made and hardworking teachers. My father is an Assistant Professor in MUET, Jamshoro and my mother is an Associate Professor in Government Girls Degree College, Shahrah e Liaquat, Karachi.

My parents went through all the hardships to reach where they are today. They have struggled immensely to provide me a proper education and I owe them big time for providing me with everything that was necessary and especially for reading me folktales and buying me books. And for not stopping me to pursue my dreams after I had convinced them that they were worth it. Like all Hyderabadi parents, they needed at times more convincing but I always tried to make sure that they don’t ever regret giving me my freedom.

I also have a strong bond with my brothers and also my maternal side of the family. The habit of reading, I have inherited that from my maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles as they were the ones taking me to bookstores for books when I was young and also read to me. I was lucky enough to inherit a lot of books by them when few of them moved abroad. My family is my own personal cheerleading team and I am blessed to have them around.

I have a few friends too who have been like family as I have lived away from home in Karachi for last four and half years. For being family being blood-related is never important and that I have realized at so many stages of my life and especially during the hardest times.

TIP: What is Books and Beyond?

Khushbakht: Books and Beyond is a book club, based in Hyderabad and now reaching out to Karachi and other cities.

The journey of B&B:

TIP: How did you start this book club?

Khushkbakht: The book club started in the summers of 2016, and I, along with a close friend Huda Bhurgri, shaped it into reality.

There had been a void in my city with respect to reading. With that in mind, the main purpose of Books & Beyond became to encourage people, students mainly, to read and engage the youth in constructive discussions online. Also, to hold regular meetups to motivate them to explore different genres of books, expanding their reading horizons. And to share their writings.

Books

Creating a platform where people of all genders who love reading or want to read more feel included and accepted was the target. As my city is not a big city and has a conservative environment where girls mostly don’t attend such independent study circles. It was a great achievement that we created a secure and motivating environment that satisfied parents. We got a great response from everyone. We even organized an open mic session which was called ”Breaking the Silence”. It was a milestone event for our book club where readers, senior poets, budding poets/writers and talented singers participated. They all contributed to shine light upon crucial social and personal issues in their own unique way. Currently, we are working towards planning activities for upcoming months in Hyderabad and also planning to expand to Karachi.

Along with the co-founders, there is a team of dedicated people coming from diverse backgrounds. Huda and I got lucky as we were not the only people eager for such an opportunity to play our roles to benefit our community. That is how we ended up having a brilliant team to work with. Leading an enthusiastic, individualistic and smart group of bibliophiles has been a great learning experience. The brainstorming sessions are always filled with energy and passion

TIP: What were the difficulties running the book club? What is that one thing that motivates you every day to keep going?

Khusbakht: In our times reading has become a lost interest.  Recently in one of the major cities of Pakistan two bookstores were closed due to lack of business which is a very heartrending and crucial social issue. As books are the food for the soul and necessary for the growth of one’s mind.

These times call for major efforts from everyone who loves reading or believes that students should be encouraged to indulge in non-academic reading. Books & Beyond is an effort by us to play our roles in the community to encourage people mainly students to read.

Hyderabad, a city filled with history and literature in our current times lack platforms which cater to young readers. The events which do happen are most of the time not female-friendly. That is what inspired us to figure out a solution, and right now serves as a major motivation.

TIP: Do you think that you have achieved your goal?

Khushbakht: I had the responsibility of organizing the team digitally first so we could work on our digital book group and keep our page updated. Then the next step was to choose topics for our meetups which would entertain people of every age group, this task I did enjoy a lot but was a bit challenging initially but then with great teamwork we ended up satisfying most of our book club members.

Our book club has a strong digital presence (Facebook group with almost 2,500 members and a page) giving a platform to readers and writers alike. It encourages people mainly students to read, engage the youth in constructive discussions online and in the meetups and motivate them to explore different genres of books. Plus if they are interested to write then to provide them with an audience which gives healthy criticism.

TIP: What would you like to say to the people of Pakistan?

Khushkbakht: Message for the people of Pakistan is that we all need to own our country. Work for our communities. Assess the issues that are in our houses and neighborhoods, starting to work from there will result in great development. Study circles and such reading sessions would be highly helpful to stir critical thinking in the masses. So investing time and efforts and, as well as money is all worth it for the greater cause: helping our own people and aiming for prosperity.

We wish you all the best girl! We hope you achieve your goals with confidence and beyond! <3

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