I was 8. I remember my grandfather tickling me in the backyard. I was laughing. I was happy. Then, he said, “My little jewel will become a doctor. She’ll be such a good doctor that any patient will just look at her and he’ll feel all better!” I laughed. I felt happier.
I was 10. My sister was 15 and preparing hard for IIT entrance. We had guests at home that night. They tell my sister to study hard and all the very best. Then, they turn to me. They ask, “So, what about the little one? She’ll follow her sister into IIT, won’t she?” I throw my head back haughtily. “No!” I say, “I’m going to become a doctor,” I state proudly. Mom and dad smile happily at me.
I was 12. I told my parents I want to go into research for a career. They nod at me and then, shoot each other worried looks. Granpa asks me if I’m sure. I nod decisively. He shoots me a look which clearly implies he’s not happy with my decision.
I was 13. My chemistry lecturer asked what I wanted to do in life. I told him I was interested in research. He said, “So, you won’t be settling in India then…” I looked at him confused. He told me if I thought research was my field, then, I’ll have to
leave the country. I dropped that plan.
I was 14. One day I told mom I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be like Ms. J.K. Rowling. Mom dropped her jaw. She told dad and granpa. It was soon the butt of many dinner jokes. Few days after dad tried to talk to me about it- heart-to-heart. But, I knew my heart would trouble his heart. So, I did some fast thinking and some desperate fishing while he talked. Finally, I told him that people interest me and their imaginations; I want to be something like a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is also a doctor- dad went away happy. I continued building along this line. It did raise a few eyebrows at first; but, people at home were happy with it and so, when I was interviewed for NCC national camp and they asked my ambition in life, I told them I wanted to be a psychiatrist. That made them happy and so, I was happy.
At 15, I thought I had my life all figured out. I was going to sweep through my board exams, take biology as my subject for 11th and 12th and go on to become a psychiatrist.
Everyone who heard my plan warned me that it’s going to be a long- really long course. I would be 30 before I could make something of my life. It’s a lot of hard work and patience. I would reply with a haughty smile that it’s no big deal. I’ll make it and make it good. People were impressed with my confidence.
Everyone also told me that the two years of preparation is very crucial; that for MBBS, hardly anyone gets into a good college on their first try. Every doctor I met had dropped at least one year of his life because he didn’t make it through some exam. I nodded politely at all of them, but, inside, I was thinking, I would be different! I’m never gonna waste an year- life’s too short anyway!
Call it over-confidence if you will, but it paid off. I did make it into one of the top medical schools in my first try- not at the top of the list for sure- but, who cares, I made it through!
I was 17. My first year as a medical student began. I would wake up on random mornings and marvel at the fact that I’m in this medical school. Just a few months ago, it seemed like nothing but a dream… then, the reality crash occurred- I failed most of my papers in first term. The romance broke and I stared MBBS in its true face for the first time. I realized I’ll have to study- hard.
I turned 18. I was a major now- legally responsible for my own decisions. My exams were just round the corner. The only decision I had to make was to start studying- it was hard. But, I just about managed it.
I’m still 18. But, now, I’m in my second year of medical school. The results of first year are not out yet. However, I fairly hope to pass in everything. So yes, I’m a second year medical student now. The other day, a patient asked me which year I’m in. I answered that I’m in first year. I didn’t even notice my mistake quite some time. It was only after I moved away from her that I realized my mistake. But, the funny thing was I didn’t feel like I made a mistake. That’s when I had the first inkling of the doubts in my head.
I don’t know when it started. Maybe when I realized that the only class I follow is forensic science which was dealing mostly with legal issues. Or maybe when I found out that the class I was listening to presently was not of pharmacology as I was thinking, but of pathology. Maybe it was when I went for clinics and discovered that I can’t interact with the patients and worse, I didn’t even want to. Or maybe when I took the history of the patient and couldn’t make head or tail of it. I sleep or read novels in most of the theory classes, I go late to the clinics so I won’t have to spend too much time there and I find the practical classes unbearably boring. I can’t wait for the day to end and I don’t want the next day to begin.
I don’t talk much. That doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to talk about; it just means even if I want to I can’t talk about it. It’s too confusing and it makes too many people I care for unhappy. So, I daily go to class and sit there wondering what the heck I’m doing here!