Saturday, November 9, 2013

And I Made it to Medical School

As a medical student I have many reasons to believe that I am not just another medical student often portrayed as a nerdy, focused, dedicated person. Here is my story of immense struggle, pain, humor and confusion.

"Philosophy! Yes that's what I want to do after finishing school!"- I announced with pride and an intellectual air, sensing almost a discovery of sorts, discovery of my true passion and interest based on my convictions, ideas and daily thought process. Studying for entrance seemed too much of a headache- with all the cramming involved and so much more! Moreover the idea of studying in a medical college didn't fascinate me anymore. The reason why I opted for biology in the 11th grade was because I was planning on studying for the premedical tests but I was just 15 then, realizing that I didn't want to become a doctor but a philosopher at 16 sounded plausible and reasonable to me.

"What?" mom replied back, almost choosing to ignore what I had just said.

"I want to do a course in philosophy," I repeated myself.

"Be serious! Anyway you can do whatever you want after you become a doctor," mom said almost forcibly, so not interested in what I was putting across to her.

"Umm, no but philosophy is what really interests me and I am pretty sure about that."

"You are ruining your life and ours too. What do you want to do? Mop the floors? You have taken up biology! Don't talk like those art students! You are seeking escape from hard work. Nothing in this life comes easy. Be courageous and don't step back from what you have already decided. What will relatives say? It's the most crucial stage of your life, don't pollute yourself with thoughts like these." Mom spoke like she would never stop. Finally she did much to my relief. But I had no idea that this was just the beginning of the long ordeal that was staring me in the face. In school all of my classmates in tenth grade had opted for science with mathematics. So in my class were all new comers from different schools.

It was a big stage for them coming from other schools to a bigger, more sophisticated one. I was projected as this sure shot AIIMS guy, the pride of the school. My sister passed out from the same school and cleared medical entrances in first go and topped the district in 12th boards. So according to the genetic theory of the principle it was only obvious that I am going to match her if not do better than her. My classmates used to envy me, how I wish I could have told them that they were wrong and they wouldn't like to be in my shoes. The teachers used to look at me while teaching. All this I wasn't used to because till tenth I used to be this shy, quiet, studious guy.

Though I was always among the toppers but never got any attention. But now, I was given many liberties- an air conditioned room to study in, in case I thought the classes weren't useful enough, given books free of cost, I was allowed to come to school anytime I wanted to and at any time, allowed to miss tests in schools so that I could concentrate more on my studying for pmt's. All this was done so that I don't shift to another school where I intended to go after tenth. Reasons for that were numerous- more babes! My crush was studying in that school, more extra curricular activities, better students and better teachers. But it didn't happen. The principle visited my house on numerous occasions trying to convince my parents and finally it worked and I had to bear the pain of staying away from my crush.

There were many fights in the house regarding this issue but nothing ever went in my favor and to show my protest I decided to push all the liberties I was given to the limit. Anyway, I didn't really make good friends with anyone in my class. So I saw no fun in going to school. But i enjoyed the attention I was getting in school. I was the most talked about guy even though I attended the least number of classes.

Apart from all that I studied, hard and consistently. I was among the toppers in the coaching classes. The first test I gave there and the events that followed deserve special mention. I had got the second rank and my friend cheated from my paper and ended up getting the first rank. That was bad, considering that it was the first test and everyone was talking about the topper, just the kind of start and image everyone would want. But things went out of hand a few days after the result.

I was sitting with the cheater on the side adjacent to the wall and a gorgeous female of our class was sitting in the next row. She started talking to him sounding impressed and asking him how he studies and stuff. I felt like screaming when I saw that. We were losers when it came to talking to girls and never had the guts to even start a conversation with any girl. All I could do was pretend that I am not listening to what they are talking about. But when they started talking about their families then I could bear it no more. I bent side wards to tell her that he had actually cheated and hence he got the first rank. She ignored or didn't hear what I said. She didn't reply and I didn't try to say it again. They continued talking and I had to spend some really uncomfortable moments after that. Finally when their conversation ended my friend had nothing to say but sorry. I was glad he didn't nag me because then I would have killed him for sure. Though after a few days when he called her she refused to recognize him. I was relieved.

Life changed after that dialogue with mom. Studying became much harder. The rank in coaching classes went tumbling down. I started getting reprimanded regularly by my parents for not studying. My classmates who always hated the importance and liberties given to me laughed at me. Teachers started mocking me for they never really liked someone having the audacity to choose not to attend their lectures. The principle started worrying about my performance too. Life started changing, people started changing.

My crush got to know that I like her "that" way. She called me up and said, "What am I hearing? I called you on my birthday thinking that you're a nice guy and you started thinking about me in that way? How sick can one get? My mom has got to know about this and if my dad gets to know he will shoot you for sure." She hung up. I almost urinated in my pants. I was petrified. This wasn't the end of it though. The principle ordered me to join chemistry tuition classes after school. The batch I was given was the one in which she was studying too with 3 more students. She got to know about this and told everything to the teacher. He thought it was his "duty" to inform my parents about this. He would have fulfilled his duty had my beloved friend in that batch not intervened and explained to the sir that it was all a misunderstanding. I was given a different batch and all the love that may have been left after that phone call flew away. "Narrow minded people," I thought.

Class 11th finals approached near but I was in no state to study. And finally when exams started I didn't feel like studying anything. In the examination hall I didn't feel like attempting the questions whatever little I knew. All I used to do was write songs on the question paper. I flunked and got the lowest marks in the whole school. It was embarrassing, very embarrassing, not something I was used to. But I didn't want to blame myself because I knew that it was something I had no control over. I was too numb, learning the ways of the world too fast for my comfort. My confidence has reached rock bottom. I was increasing more nervous and restless. But still I couldn't study.

Everyone around me changed his or her colors. My friends, my teachers, my parents??? That was something that hurt me the most and my heart ached at the very thought of the things they used to say. "You may get everything in life, but if you don't listen to us I am telling you, you will never be a happy man, never!" Mom used to curse me frequently. I was scolded everyday for not studying. Gradually I began to realize that they didn't love me at all, they were just too stuck on their son and never thought about me as an individual, for if they did, they wouldn't behave the way they did. The teachers always used to taunt me and friends always had something sarcastic to direct at me. I thought my sister would never understand my state of mind because she was too nerdy to understand something like this. A "something" that even I was beginning to get confused about. I didn't know where I was headed. I felt lonely, very lonely. I was promoted to 12th somehow.

Come 12th and I was ordered to attend classes regularly. I somehow managed to do that for 2 weeks but after that I gave up. It was too hard. I couldn't talk to anyone because I was too scared that they would ask me if I were going mad with all my eccentricities. I got depressed. The psychiatrist gave some 'happy pills' and asked my parents to not ask me to study for atleast 3 weeks. I was glad about that. But they started pestering me after the third day. I was too tired to be shocked. They used to get paranoid that 'their son' isn't studying, their son wont clear pmt and their son wont become successful. They were just not able to think about the individual in front of them. They are doctors too and I used to wonder if they really have any clue about the subtle human emotions.

They were too insecure to be of any help. Anytime I used to approach them with my problems they used to start worrying that I am worried and as a result used to vent their anxiety on me. Complex it was! They finally decided to take me to mussourie. It felt great there. But while coming back and on reaching home it was the same story. The walls of the house were threatening to eat me. My brain used to ache with million thoughts attacking me. The pills used to make me sleep all day like a dead body. Though it was a welcome respite from the maddening thoughts but still it was no cure. 'Happy pills' are a result of misconception that science can fathom everything, even the complex emotions. No doubt it's a field beyond logic and can be deciphered only by deeply engrossing oneself into meditation and religion. I finally started feeling bored of the dead life and decided to rise. It wasn't anything revolutionary, simple cause and effect.

I started studying, though it was hard, very hard. I was no way near my best. But something was better than nothing. I 'developed' a crush on a girl in my coaching class. I thought it would help me get back on track and more interested in mundane issues and it worked! It gave me an incentive to live. Incidentally my 'cheater' friend has crush on the same girl. We didn't seem to mind that because we both knew deep inside that we wouldn't go far. I used to spend hours to groom myself before going for the coaching class, used to practice zillion times that perfect line which would make her smile. It all ended abruptly when we saw her making out with some guy after class. It was painful but we had someone to share our sorrows with, each other. It was much better than one of us managing to woo her. We got over her in a few weeks.

My efforts to study were still going on, though a thousand thoughts prompted me to run away from the entire wilderness. My rank was improving but it was no way near what it used to be. I felt I had almost lost that ability to study. I just couldn't study for long hours. It was as if my heart used to disallow me to study because it wasn't something I really wanted to do. But my mind knew that I had just three options-to study, run away or die. I always had to choose the first option. Nothing great. I just never had the guts to do the last two. It was destiny taking full charge of me with I having no say. In fact I was clueless what 'I' was. I used to read books on psychology hoping to find answers to my never ending questions about life and its functioning. I used to hate it when I used to hear my friends in other schools taking part in debates and elocution. I was too much of an introvert to have ever taken part in them in the past and now it wasn't allowed for the biology students in our school. But now I had zeal to speak up and be heard. I had come out of my shell I felt. I had to! Though I never got the chance in school it paved the way for me creating opportunities for myself in future.

The pre boards were drawing near but I was too busy doing objectives for entrances. I thought with whatever little study I do I better study for entrance than study for boards, which I was hoping I would pass anyway. Though I still wanted to get a good score in boards to the keep the philosophy option open in case something works out in the future. But I hadn't studied anything for the boards and I didn't know where to start from, so I didn't till the pre boards came knocking on the door and went away.

I got the lowest in the school and that sounded familiar. I flunked again. But because I hadn't started studying anything for the boards I didn't start it until the principle called my parents (stark contrast from when he used to visit us everyday) and told them that I wouldn't be allowed to give the boards if I don't pass the re test. So a week before the boards I was giving exams in school. I had only those three options and again I chose the first one. One of my parents used to sit with me not allowing me to go anywhere else. I just had to study and I hated them for that. Somehow I was allowed to sit for the boards.

The first physics exam I found exceptionally tough. The last hour in the examination hall was spent analyzing the job prospects for a tenth pass twelfth fail guy. I thought I would get a clerical job in a bank for sure. The other exams that followed went ok. Though till one month after that physics paper everyday I used to calculate my marks and every time it used to fall a few marks short of the passing score. Finally the result came out and I passed with an 83 percent and I got the same marks individually in physics.

I was convinced that CBSE sucks because I expected around 97 in tenth and ended up getting just 90 (I was a nerd then). But the real things, the entrances, were still left. I had this weird confidence that I would be able to clear them no doubt. I had got into the habit of locking myself into the room and listening to songs and lying down the whole day. That doesn't sound too different but it was considering that it was literally the whole day. I used to wonder that my parents haven't noticed that as they would be thinking that I am busy studying and wouldn't even care to ask me if I am ok. But after some time they always got to know when I was lying down in my room. i used to draw all the curtain and even plug the key hole with bits of papers but still they got to know. I scanned the room for any hidden cameras but couldn't find anything. So every time I used to lie down during day time one of the parents used to bang the locked door hurling abuses. Finally I was not allowed to lock the room and 'study'.

As was the case before boards someone used to supervise me while studying. But I got into the practice of just staring at the book and turning pages at regular intervals hence leading them into thinking that I was studying, whereas I used to be lost in my own world. World that can't be described by words. May be it was reality.

The result of entrances started coming out and I didn't clear any of them. For a change I was alarmed because the prospect of dropping a year and staying home seemed dangerous for the health of all of us. I wanted badly to go away from home. Again nothing great, just simple cause and effect. The next two entrances were one month away. So it was practically one last chance. And I studied at an average of eight productive hour's everyday. I cleared one of them. I was relieved but not happy. My parents were mad with happiness and that made me angry but I kept quiet. And a week after the result I saw myself sitting on a chair made of air with some people threatening to slap me. Any guesses?

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