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Autobiography Project by Osman Sheikh

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FC: By Osman Sheikh | On The Move

1: On the Move by Osman Sheikh

2: © 2012 Carpe Diem Books South Riding, Virginia

3: Well, here it is, the autobiography of my life, so far. Of course, this isn't a book of all the events of my life, not even all the important ones, but a collection of the events, experiences, and situations that helped make me who I am today. I hope for many more such experiences and look forward to learning more and growing as a person. I hope you enjoy my autobiography.

4: Osman is a very kind, warm and special person who, like all my 4 children, will remain in my heart forever. Since he was born he has brightened up my life and my husband's as well. His caring attitude is evident in the way he cares for his sisters and brother, even though I spend a good part of my day resolving their arguments. Osman often puts the needs of others ahead of his own and is quick to thank and compliment people. His shy attitude gives way to his talkative and sociable character that so reminds me of my father, for whom he is named. By Osman's mother Ihsan | I dedicate this book to the following people, who have made a big impact on my life My mother- If she had not initially forced me into becoming an avid reader, I would have never picked up a book in the first place. My father- “Patience is a virtue” seems to be what my dad lives by. His stories and our discussions have greatly influenced me. My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Jackson- Her refusal to accept the mediocre work I did by telling me she knew I could do better and would accept no less than A work helped me see school for more than just a place to talk to friends and play around I also dedicate this book to my friends Arbaz, Michael, Kevin, and Adel for sticking with me from the beginning. It’s amazing how we all push each other into doing our best in our individual pursuits

5: I dedicate this book to the following people, who have made a big impact on my life My mother- If she had not initially forced me into becoming an avid reader, I would have never picked up a book in the first place. My father- “Patience is a virtue” seems to be what my dad lives by. His stories and our discussions have greatly influenced me. My 4th grade teacher Mrs. Jackson- Her refusal to accept the mediocre work I did by telling me she knew I could do better and would accept no less than A work helped me see school for more than just a place to talk to friends and play around I also dedicate this book to my friends Arbaz, Michael, Kevin, and Adel for sticking with me from the beginning. It's amazing how we all push each other into doing our best in our individual pursuits

6: I rode my black and red Huffy bike to the park and was on my way back with a few friends. It was a regular summer evening. The sun's rays were slowly roasting us. We passed by a shopping center filled with numerous chain stores and a boarded up department store at the edge of the shopping center, right next to the sidewalk. Construction workers were going in and out, their orange hard hats gleaming from the reflection of the sun rays. A bright yellow front end loader was parked in front of the department store, coming back from demolishing a part of the very same sidewalk we were now riding our bikes on. The sidewalk ended abruptly in and led to a patch of cement filled with cracks and a large assortment of rock .I saw the crack on the sidewalk, but it was too late. I felt a sharp pain in my hand as I grabbed the breaks with an iron grip, holding on for dear life. The smell of melting rubber filled the air as the tires screeched against the street. Images of broken teeth, hospital beds, and stitches flashed before my eyes. The bike stalled and came to a complete stop as the front wheel hit the solid concrete. The back wheel blasted up and my whole world stopped as I stared at the bumpy, gray gravel a mere 2 feet from my face. My friends’ shouts echoed in the air. I was thrown off the seat like an acrobat being shot from cannon, except there wasn't a net to catch me. The only thing under me was the sidewalk. I flew through the air, watching as the stores and passing cars turned upside down. I felt like I was frozen in the air and I could see the area where I would inevitably smash into as soon as the world resumed. My body went limp as I crashed down face first into a painful landing. My face was distorted from the rapid rush of air that attacked my face as I came down. No thoughts came to mind as the rest of my body came down, twisting my neck and flipping me on my back. My white shirt turned a light brown color from rubbing against the street. I lay still for what seems like 5 hours, only awakened by my rhythmic thumping in my head. I wondered how I came to be on the floor, bruised and broken, when just a few seconds ago; I was safely on my bike riding home. My vision was blurred and I wanted nothing more than be asleep. My tongue had been bitten as I crashed and the taste of dirt, grass, and street was still in my mouth as the ambulance came 20 minutes later.

7: It was my 2nd day in a remote village on the Nile, right in the middle of the Sahara desert. There was one single paved road, a shoddily built two lane road that passed for a highway. From the top of the mountain trail, I could see nothing but sand, sand and more sand for miles. There were no electric or cellular towers in sight, nor was there any electricity or cell phone reception. The heat slowly baked my innards and I was certain that I could see crocodiles on the Nile banks, or maybe the heat was getting to me. Either way, I was too scared to get a closer look. No, I was not on Survivor. I was in Sudan, along the border with Egypt, in the small farming town my father grew up in. While it was unbearably hot, I was amazed to see the places my dad played in when he was a kid. Also, there’s no way to describe how it feels to meet 80 new people and be told that they are all related to you in some way, my mind was overloaded with names and faces. I had arrived here in a convoy of pickup trucks and buses in a grueling 8 hour drive with unexpected stopovers at an isolated repair shop. I couldn’t help but wonder where the mechanic lived. When we finally got to our destination, it was no different from the hundreds of miles of desert we had just crossed, except this piece of desert had a few acres of farmland and ten or so houses scrunched up against the Nile, with the high way turning left towards a small town that passed for a downtown area. We were greeted by my dad’s uncle, who was dressed in a long white robe like all the other men. After eight hours staring at sand, the intense brightness almost made me blind. There were a series of long tables prepared in the court yard for everyone to sit at and eat, and between lifting the plates of food and shaking the hands of so many people; I was honestly surprised my arms didn’t fall off. Later that night, I decided to sleep outside in the court yard, as many people do in that area. It was over 100 degrees and I was trying to figure out why my uncle gave me a blanket. Suddenly, the moon came up and it got cold as all the animal noises that I heard throughout the day stopped at the same time. After a long night, I was happy to be sleeping under the stars, which I never saw in such a large volume. I knew this would be an adventure to remember. The next day, I was awoken by the intense sunlight and was in a daze for a few minutes. Looking around the courtyard, I saw that not a single person was there. I got up and walked into the house, only to be greeted with the same predicament. No one was here. Confused and panicking, I went back to the courtyard and planned my next course of action. Seeing as how I was only there for a day, I wouldn’t know how to get back if I left. So I waited an hour. Then another hour, and another. Finally, I decided to head out and see where my family went. I walked towards the Nile, guided by the unique smell of water and clay that I recognized earlier. When I reached it, I saw a few fishermen in a boat. I couldn’t bring myself to wave them down and ask for help, I had already exhausted my daily amount of bold actions. Defeated and still panicking, I went back to the houses. Sitting down on my bed, I went over the possible scenarios. Either they all went on a walk, which seemed unlikely, or they all decided to suddenly move houses. I was still thinking when I heard a loud rumbling sound, and saw my family come back in a few cars. I ran up to them and in the angriest voice I could muster, which was weak considering the circumstances, asked them where they went. Apparently, they went on a boat ride down the Nile, and didn’t want to wake me up. I was angry, tired, and regretful over missing such a fun event, although after 5 days there, I had had so much interesting experiences that I forgot about the initial disappointment. Overall, it was a life changing experience, and the serenity of countryside life was a much needed break from the fast paced life me and my family were used to.

10: Letter to My Sisters | I'm bossy, mean ,and may even shout sometimes, I know,but in all honesty, I only do it to protect you two.For example, last summer on our trip to Disney World, I was very protective and didn't let you two go ahead of me and our parents and it may have made you angry. Disney World is a huge place and I as fearful of you getting lost, or worse. I only want to protect you because I love you want you to succeed and be safe. I hope you understand and forgive me whenever you think I'm being annoying or mean. Sincerely, Your older brother Osman

12: I grasp the cover, flip it open Smell the scent of new paper, new words Take a deep breath, pull my blanket closer I turn the page and open a portal Let the words paint pictures They act out the script as my mind directs I open a book and delve into a new world Page after page, I’m in deeper and deeper Drowning in verbs, nouns, imagery, hyperbole Glance at the clock 3 AM Tired eyes, sore hands I put the book down regretfully The words aren’t being read But the world lingers in my mind Ready to be resumed

13: Being a good little brother is right up there with being a fire fighter, a police officer or a teacher as far as heroes go. Our work in protecting the health of our big brothers deserves a Noble prize. For those little brothers who aren’t up to par, here’s a guide to help. When your older brother is watching TV, it is necessary to change the channel to something boring. Every second of time you spend changing the channel, is more time he isn’t rotting his brain by watching TV. After changing the channel, it may be necessary to run away. Make sure your old brother is chasing you, as this time spent chasing will greatly improve his cardiovascular health. To make him run faster, make sure to annoy him greatly. This can be accomplished by taking the remote with you, hitting him with a pillow or just making a lot of noise. Once you have the art of making him chase you down, you are well on your way to becoming a good little brother. We’ve all had an experience similar to this. You’re older brother is going somewhere and you want to come to. “No” he cries, as if he doesn’t want you to come. In reality, he is using reverse psychology to get you to come with him. He wants you to come. So it is our duty as little brothers to go with him every time he says he doesn’t. The more he says no, the more he wants you to come. Don’t back down; use every available option, including your parents, to force him to take you. Your presence will serve to brighten up his day and improve the overall quality of the experience. Being observant is an important quality for a little brother. Observe everything about your older brother including his favorite foods, TV shows, channels, and activities. This will serve you well in annoying him. If he likes basketball, take his basketball and hide it. Use parental controls to block his favorite channels and TV shows, because every show blocked is another 30 minutes he can use to study or be productive. Sometimes it is necessary for you to take his place and watch TV or use his Nintendo DS, only to prevent him from using it. It is this selfless attitude and pure determination that helps make us little brothers so essential to our older brothers’ lives. It is no coincidence that some of the world’s greatest people have or have had little brothers. We are the behind the scenes force that makes all of the world’s accomplishments possible. It is scary to think of where the world would be without little brothers. Our constant bickering and fighting with our older brothers’ will only help make them a stronger debater, and if they wish to be a lawyer, the bickering will provide much needed experience. Of course, we make many sacrifices in our daily job. By watching TV and playing games so our brothers don’t, we waste our own time and kill our brain cells. And eating all the ice cream sure does make us very unhealthy, but it is a sacrifice we are willing to accept, as all heroes go through hard times to help others.

14: Music education was a big part of our year. Students were educated in various instruments, including the piano, violin, viola, cello, guitar, electric bass, and voice. We had two concerts this year, in the fall and spring. These provide students with performance experience and build confidence.

15: Students traveled this year to the San Francisco Symphony Hall to hear the musical stylings of Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Mst. Sarah Bartolome presented a session about multicultural music. She was obviously very well-educated on the subject. | We had a special guitar instructor teach us how to play modern rock songs. We will never forget these moments.

16: The plans were drawn, the adventurers were dressed. The expedition was about to begin. Looking out from my window, I saw the long, or so we thought, creek that we were about to explore. The word creek really wasn’t fit for it. It was nothing more than a small stream with just a sliver of water running through it. Ever since we moved to the neighborhood, we wondered where it led. Some of my friends said it led directly to the Potomac, or even to the Atlantic. Although the latter seemed improbable, we were dazzled and amazed at what could lie at the end of the creek, and so began our journey. All of us were dressed in our exploring best; sturdy hiking boots or sneakers, a pair of jeans, even sweatpants for those of us that valued comfort, and a long sleeve shirt. Along with printed out Google Earth images and water bottles, we were beyond ready. Like miniature versions of Indiana Jones, we made our way out of my house, which served as our headquarters, and into my backyard. A few steps and we reached our first obstacle. Although not quite heroic, circumnavigating around my neighbor’s leash less dog proved to be our first encounter with danger. We were a bit scared and shaken, but nevertheless we continued on. All our boots and shoes stepped into the small stream of water at the same time, making a single splash. Looking back at our neighborhood, we waved goodbye, like soldiers seeing their homeland for the last time. Our necks were still tilted towards our house until the tree line engulfed the last bit of civilization we would see, or so we thought, because after a few minutes of walking, we once again reached civilization. Being the head explorer, I decided to make a detour to explore this new area. We leapt out of the creek and onto the grass. Like Spanish conquistadors landing on the shores of the new world, we looked upon the land we would soon conquer. Marching towards the nearest home, we prepared to plunder. We decided my friend Michael would be the one to lead the raid, as he seemed to know the area a bit. We were surprised when he walked right up the house and knocked on the door, and even more surprised when his mom answered. It seemed as if that little part of the creek ran parallel to our street, and led us farther down into our neighborhood. We were all in Michael’s house, preparing the next leg of the expedition, when we faced our next challenge. Like Odysseus and the sirens, this challenge also tried to distract us from our journey. Unlike in the Odyssey however, the PlayStation 3 managed to distract us enough that we were soon too busy shooting and blowing stuff up to continue. Like the good adventurers we were, we recognized defeat and decided to postpone the adventure. Looking out the window at the creek that thus far has managed to evade exploration, we pledged to continue the journey to discover the source, or end, of it. Raising our drinks to the air, we sealed the pledge and were soon planning our return to the wild.

17: My father followed the realtor’s gleaming new BMW past the familiar area of Falls Church, through Chantilly, and past what seemed like miles and miles of forest and empty land. Turning into what the realtor called “A planned community with full amenities”, which was really just an under construction neighborhood that looked like a warzone at the moment, I saw my future house ahead of me. The second I heard we were moving, I was very disappointed. Falls Church had been my home for the past 5 years, and I couldn’t imagine not going to high school with my friends or not living in the neighborhood. Sad turned into confused when I heard where we were moving. I’d lived in Northern Virginia for 5 years, and not once, no not even one single time, have I heard of Loudoun County. I knew to the east of us was Alexandria and D.C, but I never bothered to think of what was to the west. In my mind It was just nonexistent, a big nothing. When I read the brochure of the neighborhood, the whole time wondering what kind of neighborhood has a brochure, I was admittedly excited. Seeing lots of new homes, new schools, new stores, new everything had the architectural part of my brain in frenzy. My eyes then fell upon a word that proved to be a buzz kill. The second I saw the word “planned”, my sadness deepened. I had always been a spontaneous person, planning just isn’t something I do. Also, I love to learn new things about wherever I live and explore its history. Unfortunately, this place had literally no history and the word planned made me feel like I was moving to a retirement home. So we said goodbye to the neighborhood that had been more than just a home to us, but a community. The people, the buildings, the architecture, and everything that composed the fabric of the area were all a part of us. I knew we would miss the familiarity that came with living there, the memories that were made there and the memories that were supposed to be made there. My friends and I met in my, at least for another few hours, house for one final goodbye, until we returned tomorrow to finalize our move and then every weekend after that is. After hanging out for some time, we decided to go for a nice long around the neighbored, reminiscing about the experiences we had in places as we passed them. With the midnight moonlight lighting our way and a misty summer feeling setting the mood, we passed by the school where we learned new things, made new friends and I must admit got in a bit, okay maybe more than a bit, of trouble together. We passed the McDonalds that served as our afterschool hangout spot, where we conversed over artery blocking, sodium packed fries and sandwiches and the Subway where we occasionally engaged in healthier eating habits. Finally we arrived at the pinnacle of our nostalgia inducing trip, the skate park where we all bonded and where each of us improved our skills in the sport that brought us together. I pulled my skateboard out of its strap, positioned myself on it, and went down the half pipe, even though none of us have skated in a year or two, for old time’s sake. As I went down, feeling the rush of air that first drew me to skating, I waved to my friends and saluted; to friends, to family, and to the memories and events that bond us all together.

18: Hurtling at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour while strapped to a heap of metal and being upside down for a lot of the time does not seem fun to me, although, to millions of people around the world, rollercoasters are a summer ritual. My family and I go to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania every May, usually taking with us some of my friends as well. Just seeing twisting, turning rollercoasters from the parking lot of the amusement park brings chills down my spine. It’s not that I’m scared, ok maybe I am a bit, but for the most part, I just don’t see the benefit of it. So, having never ridden a real rollercoaster my friends decided to force me into going on one. My friends and I, along with my brother, entered Hershey Park together, with the rest of my family a few steps behind. Stopping at the ticket counter, we wait for my parents. Before we even entered the park, my friends start trying to convince me. To everything they said, they received a solid “No” from me. After a few no’s and my friends unconvincingly telling me how fun and joyful roller coasters are, we entered the park. Immediately, we went towards the arcade, telling my parents that I’ll call them when we’re done. I was mindlessly talking to my friends as they led the way to the arcade, or so I thought. “Well here we are” said my friend Adel. Looking around, I realized I wasn’t anywhere near the arcade, but in the line for the Great Bear roller coaster. I saw the massive steel hull of the ride in front of me, with dozens of screaming people vying for a chance to ride on it. I was overcome with nausea and a piercing head ache as I pushed through the crowd that formed behind us and smoothly gave my friends the slip. I was nonchalantly playing some arcade games when my friends step in to the arcade. They use the most powerful force in the world to convince me to go on at least one rollercoaster, annoyance. When I walked towards an arcade game, one of them would make annoying noises next to it. Finally I agreed to ride a rollercoaster. Holding me to my promise, my friends led me to the Great Bear. My whole body shook as I boarded the ride and the metal seatbelts came down. My jaws clenched when I heard them clamp and lock. By the time I heard the announcer’s voice, I was squirming to get out. I couldn’t be heard over the loud screams of those who, for reasons I could not understand, were actually happy to be on the ride. So, my voice drowning in a chorus of gleeful cries, the ride started. Twisting, turning, upside down, straight down, my body was aching in a few seconds. I closed my eyes and held on to the handle with an iron grip. I was upside down when all of a sudden; the ride slowed down and turned over. It slowly drifted into the departure area. I was waiting for it to start again, thinking this was too easy to be the real deal. When the ride really did end, I sat down and smiled. It was actually a pleasant experience, albeit my muscles ached for about a month after that. Looking to my right, I saw my friends. They pointed to the next roller coaster, on to the next one. Bring it on, I said, as I ran to catch up with my friends.

20: It was a typical summer day with clear skies and scorching heat. I drove to JFK with my mom, my dad, and my siblings. My uncle also came with us, to drive our car back. We went into the international departures terminal, into the emirates Airlines lounge, and waited a few hours. From the window, I could see the large white jumbo jet, with the airlines livery clearly visible in shining gold. I was amazed by the sight of all the planes taking off and landing.. I wondered how such large objects could fly and land so smoothly. The notion of aerodynamics had not yet entered my eight year old mind. By the time we were on our plane, I was a bit worried. What if the planes I saw land were only a small percentage of the planes that flew away? What if the majority of planes crash landed somewhere in the ocean? Needless to say, I was deathly afraid. But it was too late for that, the plane was already moving. The asphalt runway seemed to blur as the plane moved faster and faster. The airport and the surrounding city, were consumed by a sea of green as we flew at heights of up to 20,000 feet, soon we were over the Atlantic, and on our way to the North African country of Sudan. Sudan was a unique country, located under Egypt, and above many African nations, it was viewed as the bridge between Africa and the Arab world. At the time, it was the largest country in Africa, and its land consisted mostly of vast desert in the north, and swampland in the south. My image of it was that of huts and people living like they did 500 years ago. I wondered where the plane would land. I was surprised to see, when we finally made it to our destination that we were over a modern city, something like New York transported to the middle of a desert. From above, it seemed quite modern, but when we landed, it was obvious that we were in a developing country. The first thing I noticed was the sand. It sprang up from the ground and got into every single open crevice. It seemed as If the sand was alive. As we got into the airport, I noticed the police officers. Unlike American cops, they openly carried assault rifles, with the safeties off by the looks of it. We moved past the security into the arrivals terminal. Again, it seemed modern but a bit dated, like a new used car. As we waited for our relatives to come pick us up, I noticed the relative emptiness of the airport. Apparently, the airport did not get much traffic. My uncle came to pick us up, accompanied by about 4 other cars filled with relatives. My uncle’s car was a sparkling new Mercedes, all black with wheels to match. The other cars had a sense of opulence to them too. I knew most of the relatives from talking on the phone and from my past visits. It took about an hour to go through the usual chitchat, including all of my relatives asking me if I remembered them. Then we got into my uncle’s car and drove to our house. Calling the group of large homes a house seemed wrong. It was more like a compound. Each family had a home and they were all grouped together by a surrounding 4 feet wall. All of the houses seemed large by American standards. They had large balconies and were painted in white and pink for the most part. I chatted with some of my cousins, including those from England and other western countries who could speak English, and those from Arab countries who spoke to me in broken English mixed with Arabic. There was a party being thrown for us but jet lag made me very tired. I excused myself and went to sleep in the room prepared for me. When I woke up, it was lunch time, and we walked to the nearby restaurant that my grandfather owned. It was a nice little place, with a friendly atmosphere to it. The food served was mostly Arabized versions of American food. I had to tell the chef that hamburgers did not usually have spinach on them. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the food and the feeling of home I got from being there. Looking over the railing towards the Nile, I just knew I would enjoy my time there.

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