Posted in Anecdotes, Musings

Remembering Shaari

Shaari..

Shaari? Was that her name? I’m not really sure. I don’t remember.

What I do remember is the little shy girl, smiling timidly in a classroom where she herself might have suspected she didn’t belong in. I remember  she always had amicable smiles and average marks. Her skin was dark, her hair oily, combed back and held in place by plastic clips. I feel like describing her as having possessed mousy features as a child, perhaps because I can easily liken her to a tiny brown creature scurrying away from attention, and comfortable in dark corners.

But why I remember her is not because of her physical features or her characters. It is because of a plain sunny morning when a new teacher asked us to introduce ourselves, and one by one we reeled off our particulars – name, place, parent’s occupation – and when her turn came, she mentioned her father was a coolie. A daily wage labourer.

I was incredulous. My 11 year old mind was fascinated by the prospect of someone like her sitting here in a private school, among the children of professionals.. In retrospect, it does seem sad that such a thing even occurred to me. And yet, that’s what set her apart, for me. The fact that she was the daughter of an ambitious man, who refused to let his meagre earnings be a barrier in his daughter’s future, or believe that she was in any way less worthy of the painted classrooms of the celebrated convent school whose high walls were a stone’s throw from their small house. I used to imagine him coming home tired every night, and looking across the street at the iron gates; I would even conjure up a look of determination on his weary face..

The headmaster, Father T, would come by regularly to ask how many were yet to pay their monthly fees and invariably she would stand up every time. I believe she was given special consideration though, and allowed late payment.

I remember she was not particularly bright, or maybe she just  never had anyone to help her with her lessons at home. Maybe that was one of the reasons, along with financial constraints, that led her to shift elsewhere after middle school. 

I’ve never seen her since, but I do sometimes wonder what became of her. Had she found the new school to her liking? Has she have grown out of her shell with time? 

Sometimes, I imagine running into her some day, and struggling to recognise the mousy girl I knew behind the confident young woman who challenged the world, with her proud father by her side. I would like that very much. 

I look forward to that day.

Posted in Musings

Tell No One

Travel and tell no one. Live a true love story and tell no one. Live happily and tell no one. People ruin beautiful things. – Khalil Gibran 

No words have rung as true as those. If I may add a bit of my own to it, join the course of your choice and tell no one.

I opted for post graduation in Community Medicine in the institute of my choice, one of the finest in the country, and all I’m getting in return for the happy news are blank stares and wrinkled noses. 

Being part of a virtual joint family necessitates instant sharing of any new information relating to any event, and in case the matter even borders on the unconventional, eyebrows are raised. Two relatives in particular, doctors themselves, readily frowned upon my choice to let go of the clinical hullabaloo. 

As for me, I’d rather have peace of mind than a flourishing practice, and more importantly (and secretly) I want a life where I have ample time to read and write. If there’s one thing that rotatory residency taught me, it’s that I turn into the most horrible version of myself when harrowed and the clinical side has the possibility of doing that to you. Social and Preventive Medicine is a more versatile line, where I can opt to work among the public if I so desired or turn into teaching if that turns out to be my calling. I hate dead ends just as I hate being caged and boxed. Community Medicine gives me a wide enough platform to counter claustrophobia, so that’s that.

For once in my life, I’m letting go of whatever anyone wants me to do and siding with my gut. That you should listen to your heart is an oft used phrase, and there is a reason for it; it’s true. I am sure that if I had listened to all the voices that had gone against my own, I would not be feeling what I feel right now – happiness and relief. Like I have taken a step in the right direction. And if I haven’t, I will still know it’s my choice.

So all of you out there who are struggling to hold your own, take a deep breath and push on. The society is going to cut you left and right trying to fit you into its moulds. Maybe your options are not well thought out or maybe they are all you have been obsessing about. What matters is that when the moment comes, you click the right button, do the right thing  and make the right choice – your own. 

And tell no one.