Happy birthday to my ex-best friends.

I started to flip through my blog and read the past couple of years of my life in ink. It feels estranged. I feel disembodied. Did I really live that life? I don’t remember the company or the friends I used to share laughter with.

But I’ve accepted that change is part of the cycle that goes on. But I will forever cherish the person I was then because I spent my youth with those people.

I’m thankful for your company and our memories. For that, your birthdays though I don’t remember the dates exactly and would prefer not to have them found out because I despise looking through your profiles, I can be sure it falls on some day of the year.

Happy birthday guys and I hope you’re as happy as I am with the work we have chosen. Life goes on but don’t forget to count your blessings. 😉

Before Sunrise in Japan

“So often in my life I’ve been with people and shared beautiful moments like travelling or staying up all night and watching the sunrise, and I knew it was a special moment, but something was always wrong. I wished I’d been with someone else. I knew that what I was feeling – exactly what was so important to me – they didn’t understand.”

Exactly three weeks ago I was in Japan. Somewhere between the chaos of Hakata and Tenjin. A small fly in the Fukuoka prefecture.

For years, ever since OP set his first steps in Japan and gloated over all and everything in Japan; the people, the weird language, rampant sex shops and clean streets- I cannot count the times I have involuntarily said “please bring me to Japan”. This mantra became more frequently chanted since I graduated. Immensely so during my worst times where stress was slapping me left and right, up and down, over my pending research.

Somewhere before Christmas, with my period imminent, I was in OP’s place when I couldn’t stop saying that I wanted to go to Japan. He brought me to dinner, to Encore, bought me ice cream but I wouldn’t stop. We went home, opened the laptop and he got both of us a two way flight to Fukuoka, Japan. He slammed the laptop shut looked at me and said -“there’s no where else best to inhale Japan other than Fukuoka, trust me”.

And that I did. The rest was history. One month of waiting, planning and anticipating. I have travelled to places with so many other than family. But something was always wrong. Off in ways I can’t put my finger on. This time-the pieces fit. It felt amazing!

Japan is a little cosy memory between the two of us and I refuse to share with anybody. Our little “you remember when”s that no one else will have, a little world that existed between just the two of us.

Life is hard. It’s supposed to be. If we didn’t suffer, wed never learn anything.

The thing about Fukuoka was that it wasn’t a place tourist would swarm to. Only a handful places that appeared on Google were booming with tourist. I was lucky to be with someone who encouraged me to look behind what google told. Look at the alleys. Look at how the gravel looks weird. Look at the sands, they dance through your finger. We walked the entire of Hakata and Tenjin. Everywhere was basically a train’s ride away. We walked for 1,2, heck, sometimes 3 kilometers. As much as my feet were killing me, I couldn’t feel so much as the cold piercing through my face, slicing with the wind, cracking my lips as I tried to smile but oh, what a beautiful pain that was, I wouldn’t mind going through that again.

Trying to share everything that happened feels like a foul. I don’t want to. But some places that we went to, shared companionship in… those places were almost novel.

“I feel like if someone were to touch me, I’d dissolve into molecules.” 

I remember our first proper meal in japan- Mc Donald’s. I made it a point to try McDonald’s in every city I go to. They differ- the menus are set to fit the culture and their lifestyle. This one in particular was amazing. The Japanese made a burger out of everything. There was a shrimp burger, fish burger, chicken teriyaki which was the best of any I’ve had. Their chocolate pie was to die for in the freezing cold. The way the velvety goodness melted on my tongue, the crepe so crunchy it crumbled onto my lap. They even had salad bowls! Most importantly, they had single seating where each chairs were individual, facing the window which was frosted from the cold in one part and condensed from the heat within at another. Most people preferred and actually did come alone, their set of meals before them and a book in had, so deeply buried within they might actually burn a hole in it and I wouldn’t question a single thing. Introverts, the Japanese welcome you!

And we walked and walked the whole day. I wanted to do a whole lot of shopping but OP disagreed, recommending the shopping to be on the last day so I sulked for half the day being denied my guilty pleasure only to realise later on that he was right the whole time. I wouldn’t be able to control my spending and no emergency is predictable so it’s always best to have extra instead of having it spent right away. That’s why, a reliable traveling partner is crucial. When your judgement is clouded, have someone who can guide you through the clouds.

Night dawned and we walked through alleys facing the sunset, watching the Japanese lanterns in red and white with fish patterns come to live, giving life to a once dead street. Japanese sunsets, oh god, they’re something else. They smell- like dried winter leaves, post work hours sweat and the crisp winter air.

It turned dark soon enough. The air got colder to more reason to cuddle closer. We watched people switch from mundane black suits to winter clothing to protect themselves against the cold, seek shelter in sake vendors- the yatai- and confide in alcohol. Alcohol seemed to everybody’s best friend. It is used as mediators for business matter, rendezvous between new and old friends and a tease play between two lovers. It made us want it too but we settled for beers for the walk home was long and stretched.

We crossed bridges, watched cars pass us, revered how OP seemed to do a mental check on foreign cars that he knew: the hatchbacks, the coupes, the Nissans. His love for cars are sometimes so overwhelming I think he’d choose cars over me. But that also makes me fall in love a little bit more every time he shows me how passionate he is about things that he shares interest in.

 

“It’s like our time together is just ours. It’s our own creation. It must be like I’m in your dream and you’re in mine or something.”

Waking up in Japan is probably my most favorite moment thus far. Almost always, the alarms seemed to fail us. In lieu, the cold gives a harsh wake up; the way it seemed to creep on the skin of my leg that escaped the duvets. I’d have two, three layers on since the night before and it still didn’t help with the cold. Before OP wakes up, I’d take a hard and long look around, just feeling blessed to have been able to experience this.

The window was to my left, frosted that it confused me if that was just distorted glass or was it just the cold. It made me want to reach my hands out and draw a silly little heart on it but I’d decide against it because it was always too cold outside the duvets to handle. The potted plant- what plant was it again? I can’t remember- seemed to give such a feeling of swelling belonging like it was our small little home. It barely fit more than two spanned hand to hand, but it was our cosy little home.

I’d try to guess if it’s raining or vice versa and give a hard guess at the temperature that day. I’d guess as high as I can imagine to trick my mind into waking up but most of the time, OP would have woken up by then and he’d be kind enough to put the first step on the floor that usually feels like it’s zero degrees and run us both a hot sweltering bath. I’d run to the bathroom so as to reduce contact time between my feet and the floor but I’d be shivering by the time I reach the shower. The water would be so hot that it wouldn’t be enough but our skin would be screaming at the heat that was getting it burned.

We’d get ready- I’d watch OP get on with his last touches: scarf once around his thick neck, jacket, gloves tucked deep into his pockets (which he would fish out as soon as we leave the house because we’re never really prepared for the cold), dap- dap on the hair lacking in hair gel (damn you flight regulations), hurry me through my make up of the day, pull socks up both his feet and scurry to the patio to wear his shoes. It the same all the time I’ve had it memorized but I loved watching him every time.

He’d open the door and I’d feel the cold cruel breeze bite my nose first then the rest of my face. My hand would freeze into a prune that I would need my gloves too and my thighs felt like it was lying on a bed of the smallest nails possible. But somehow, we always smiled and grew into it a little more everyday.

“If you want true love, then this is it. This is real life. It’s not perfect, but it’s real.” — 

We took then train to a road untraveled- Roppommatsu- which happens to be the first place OP ever came to in Fukuoka two years back. He smiled every time he talked about the science museum where he had his workshops in two years back. We walked and walked into a magic that is Ohori Park. To this day that place just feels unreal.

I remember getting winter melon tiramisu pastry and a perfect cinnamon croissant to go with a set of sushi that we bought off the Yanagibashi market. Hand in hand, we walked the long and windy but narrow roads, passing so many who were busy getting their fresh bouquet of flowers for breakfast or perhaps rushing to work. The narrow walkway opened to a world that amazed me; Ohori Park spanned at least 2km wide, anointed in all the colours of fall but smelling like the earthy fragrance after a heavy shower. The wind seemed to get heavier and stronger as we made our way in but I was getting more sun that I have during all my previous days combined. It was cold but the sun was also kissing me so sweetly on my face that I didn’t mind the wind at all. Suddenly I forgot it was winter because everything screamed fall!

The birds were friendly that they didn’t scare me, the ducks had somewhat an iridescent color as it submerged into the water, emerging brand new, a fresh start. The pigeons (or was it some other bird, I can’t recall) flock in a huge party towards the hem of the lake where aunties were stretching out their palms filled with food, despite the clear warning not to. And we walked to a few other temples that gave me a sense of cleanse. The air is just different- in the temples, in the parks, in their malls.

It’s just like our life, we appear and we disappear. We are so important to some, but we are just… passing through.

By this time, I’m sensing a strange fear swelling up in my chest. The end is almost there I can feel it, so palpable but shy of my reach. It was a gloomy day, so naturally the temperature hiked up a notch. We made an impulsive trip to the TeamLab exhibition without prior booking. The air sliced through the insides of my nose as I inhaled, slowly followed by trickling of harmless runny mucous. I wanted to stick close to OP. That particular weather gave out mists as we spoke but snow was absent, but it could have. Rain started to pour, little water art on our winter jackets. I soon came to realise mine wasn’t water proof so we tried to seek shelter as much as we could. Tried to follow pigs and flowers virtually into a world so unfamiliar. Drew ourselves and allowed Japanese technology to transform us into animations from a rigid paper scribbled with crayons.

Ran in between eggs if changing colours, kissed between cold walls that we had to push through, ending up getting more wet than ever. Stepped on wet pebbles and felt just at home in their little tents for drawing workshops. Catching the most beautiful skyline of Fukuoka, watching it reflect unto the face I hold so dear, a brilliant smile for me.

We walked back home with extremely sore feet, drained out energy level but as we strolled along the Japanese roadsides clenching in cold, I found myself uttering the words: “look I’m happy. I’m with the person I love the most in the country I wanted to be in the most, basking in the most perfect night, as the smell of earth post-rain blankets us- I couldn’t imagine a life any perfect than this moment right now”. And I turned to catch the most beautiful smirk from my love.

But sometimes, I don’t know? I feel like you’re breathing helium and I’m breathing oxygen.

Two places in Fukuoka transports you to a completely different dimension but a parallel universe. It brings you back in time but tells you stories before urbanization happened. It’s a perfect mixture of religion and suburban culture.

Nanzoin was like the 1950s. Even their train station was all woods, had no automated ticket machine and was operated by a shriveled old man that never failed to smile and wished you well on your way. It was so richly green that the oxygen felt healing. We felt an urge to hike, to travel the path less explored even if that meant it got our shoes dirty. Tried to go as high as the path permitted and tried to build an appetite to a traditional restaurant to fulfill my soba cravings but unfortunately, the restaurants were scarce and we decided to settle with family mart pre-packed meals- which is nonetheless scrumptious by the way!

Dazaifu on the other hand was another town weirdly different but still the same old. We got down at a station which was about a couple kilometers further from where we were supposed to so the walk was long cutting through their townhouses which felt more outskirt than the ones you’d find in mainland fukuoka. The houses had a sempia tone to it, crawlers on their walls and flowers blooming to its full heart. It was still ridiculously cold but I wanted to stay there forever. I had a smile on my face the entire time, the kind that you know comes from pure bliss and reached your heart. I never really was happy with anyone else all this while.

That’s a real, happy and content smile.

Again, we tried to explore places that many people never took to, wet and muddy, dancing to the taps of raindrops that started carrying the size of cats and dogs but we didn’t care even if we were wet. The smell of wet leaves- oh! And the sound of running creeks, too cold to have tested with your fingers but I can almost taste the freshness on my tongue. The foliage bent and shaped to the shape of our feet, following the pressure of our weight, certain we’re leaving a part of us here.

Tried my best to find a four-leaved clover but getting fives instead. Stood on wet rocks and feeling the feeble sunray in a rainy day escape the breaks in the leaves. Drinking it all in. It reminded me a little of twilight. The little rainy town where Edward and Bella found love. I always wondered how it felt to be in a wet and cold place but to love it all a little too much. I finally figured that out.

Watching people (who are probably used to the rain and cold) still shiver, globe and scarf up, but still be able to walk to their destinations. Making me wonder how is their lives here in this part of the world? While I sip my hot chocolate from Starbucks that felt like smooth goodness running down my frozen pipe, unfreezing it all at once into function.

Feeling the cloud weigh down in us, squeezing the pressure of stress out. But ultimately, hearing OP fantasize about how nice it’ll be to hike to the top of that mountain. In the terrible cold and heavy wet. He’d set up a camp there and watch the animals all day long. Roast up some food and drink creek water for a few days before descending. Responding to nature calls by the nearest river with no hot water and just hiking for days long. He says it with so much happiness it breaks my heart to say that I would not survive such place but for him, I’d give a try even if it costs not having cold water splashed to my genitals after a pee-pee or a poo-poo.

“Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?

But here’s what- watch me say again and again that every moment is my favorite and change my mind as I write the next few scenes. But I assure you, this has got to be something I never get enough of during my time in Japan.

The run to the bakery.

We’d stop by some station about a couple of stops away and walk for like 10 minutes before we come to an old beaten house than looks like it’s been a few decades old. Occasionally there’ll be a queue but mostly leisure into a quaint little bakery that bakes the most perfect chocolate bun, strawberry parfaít and the most crumbling croissant. We’d also come to find out they have the most perfect loaf of wheat bread freshly out of the oven, crunchy like the heavens on its crust and the softest insides like a baby’s rump.

And to the right of the entrance to the bakery, s small handwritten chalkboard directs you into the a dense alley that leads to the best coffee shop in the city: coffeeman. The owner is a champion of a coffee roasting competition so their selection of coffee varies according to region, density and preference whether you like it drip, milked or raw.

I remember this day very well. We didn’t have much planned. We just wanted to drag our last morning doing exactly this. Coffee and pastry. It was raining again, the windows were tinted with frost but the heat within the coffee shop made it possible to shrug off our winter jackets, kick our feet back, relax and trace each other’s faces with our eyes. We were so close I could have sneaked a kiss. But I loved watching OP devour his macchiato slowly, with the grace of an old man’s soul.

With more pastries to-go and our steaming hot coffee to warm our frozen fingers, we made our way to Momochi seaside beach. My ultimate fear. I fear the sea but I can at least take a dip in the beach if I managed to coerce myself into forgetting. But this seaside wasn’t so kind to help me forget my fears. It was rough, hard and fierce- splashing salty water on us as we inched forward to the platform. I soon enough got over my fears, for a few pictures taken and played around for a few before we decided the cold was too much to bear and we wanted to go to the city for last minute shopping.

Like I always say: run with the wolves. Even if the ocean scares you.

Japan will now and always be a precious memory to OP and I. We love the country. We love the people. Most of all, we love the alter-life we’ve believed to have built there.

Paradoxes and prejudices – Legal

We are pleased to announce that we have created a legal blog. The blog will be featuring a collection of legal essays, focusing mainly on the humanitarian aspect of the law but we will also be publishing posts on interesting legal developments from time to time. Please head over to the blog and have a great time. We strongly encourage you to leave your opinions on our posts, and would love to hear your suggestions on topics that you are interested in.

Thank you and happy reading!

I Suddenly Couldn’t Swallow

Here I am, sitting at a nook in the bus terminal with three days to Deepavali. The notion of celebration rings loud in the air. Sometimes, I can’t help but get tricked into believing that maybe I too, would be going back to a family preparing for the big day, new sarees, new shoes, new clothes and most anticipated of all, meeting my grandmas.

I’ve gotten my subway fix for dinner after braving through a 15 minutes queue. I’ve copped myself a seat in a table surrounded by strangers. I seem to not have even the most fleeting care. I unwrap my sub and watch the chicken crookedly arranged between the two layers of my sandwich, what little sauce I opted for flowing down the corners.

I gracefully wrap the papers around my sub and reach for YouTube to keep myself entertained. First thing to pop up my recommendation page; Petronas’ Deepavali ad. I see no harm in watching that while I kill time so I click it to pay.

The video commences, something about a boy with flashbacks to his childhood. Not bad. Mum comes into the frame. Okayyyyy. Then suddenly I hear the word. It doesn’t get interpreted fast enough in my brain. I continue watching but I can’t really seem to swallow the chunk of food in my mouth anymore. It gets stored into the reservoir that is my left cheek. I force my canines through it and difficultly push it down my pipe.

I hear the word again.

Appachi?

Or was it ammachi?

I know what’s coming. I push it back down. I force the sub into my mouth. I forcefully carry out the cycle of chewing and chewing but I can’t swallow anymore. A stifle escapes my nose. It’s runny. Fluid collects at my lower eyelid. I know a cry is about to follow.

How long has it been since I got to call someone ammachi and actually mean it? How long has it been since I’ve lost the privilege? I’ve lost all meaning to life following my grandma’s death and things are only getting harder. They say grief is temporary but how long is temporary? Will I ever get over this pain?

Or will I live without colours hereon?

I miss you ammachi and amma. I miss the early Deepavali morning of getting oiled up by your hands. I miss anticipating the second day trip to your house. I miss your murukkus. And above all, I miss you smell and hugs. Please come back. 😭

The Ilizarov Principle: Survive the Fracture

This is definitely a post of my journey for the past  5 years compressed into this single-laconic-space. I haven’t even started and I’m doubting the plausibility of this attempt but here goes.

First Year

Too much of books. Too much of micro-molecules and sentences trying to describe the Father of Medicine and balamuthia Mandrillaris. Don’t ask- that’s the only microbiology I can try to remember five years later. I failed my pharmacology and until now, just the mere word stings.

 

Second Year

Oh finally! The medicine I signed up for. But every module was compacted into such a short time I was having trouble keeping up. It’s true what they say, medicine isn’t an easy field. It will stretch you to your limits, challenges the tendrils of doubt kept at bay within the corners of your mind. Second year was a bundle of topics swathed in ‘pretty in pink’ wrapping paper sprinkled with a ‘little bit of glitter’.

 

Third year

Its like someone wrapped you in a saco de arroz, hit you unconscious and shoved you into an unfamiliar world. We were introduced into the clinical world where you actually meet real people and try to learn their illness. This was the time I held on tight to the tails of my seniors, followed them into late night on calls to learn the art of history taking. I still remember when they asked me what was the sign in acute cholecystitis and I vehemently answered “McBurney’s” only to earn myself multiple stares and a corrected answer of “Murphy’s” sign. I recall going home so embarrassed for not knowing the most simplest thing in surgical rotation. I’ve come a long way since.

 

Fourth year

Okay seniors have taken their leave. I’m all solus. I remember touring around Penang with my bother and a friend when the list for fourth year was released and my intestines settled into a somersault party. I started with (in order) ObGyn, Paeds, Psychiatry and Community Health. It was at the start of this year the seriousness all of this finally hit me. I was going to graduate in two more years and there is no space for jokes. All praise to the Gods, I survived wounded but unscathed, stronger, like a welded metal; bent but still resilient. Had the time of my life in India (I made a daily posts on my adventures, check it out!) and came rejuvenated for the final leg of med school; final year.

Until my maternal grandmother passed away.

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Conversations with my mum.

 

Fifth Year (hang on this part is going to be long!)

I can’t recall when the list names came out. All I knew is that I don’t have my usual friends in the same postings. I was alone and would have to adapt to other friends that I’m not used to, whose studying habits I was completely oblivious to. You see, I’m not smart, I admit. Nevertheless, I’m giving myself credit for being hardworking. I work hard. I sacrifice the late night outs and the house parties. I study the habits and characteristics of people who have established intelligence. I watch them and I emulate my own system. I don’t bargain with sleep. I agree with the famous phrase that “you don’t sleep until you succeed”. Yes, without sleep, you won’t be able to focus, you might forget everything that you study, you won’t be able to stay on track. Different people are tailored differently; I’ve been trained to sacrifice sleep. I work on deprivation. All my life my mother has said, “while others sleep, that’s when you work, that’s how you get far”. I have this tattooed to my brain since I was 15.

I passed all my postings undoubtedly. In medicine, nothing is ever predictable. You can be on top one time and in another time, you might be falling through the floor. Sometimes, as you complete your end of posting exams, you are left dubious whether or not you’ll be able to get through it. In fifth year, I decided there was no room for doubts; I wanted to work for something I was sure of. I am forever blessed and indebted to all my friends in subgroups that were so helpful, problem-free that I didn’t have to lose my focus.

I lost both my grandmothers by November 2018 and you cannot begin to imagine how heartbroken I was that I wanted to quit everything. How much strength it took to put one feet before the other and walk to classes and stitch a smile on my face when all I wanted to do was break down. How I refrained from confiding in anyone because there simply was NO TIME for grief. I barely had time to go back for my paternal grandmother’s funeral. How I couldn’t cry or squeeze a tear out because I knew that if I did, my armour would fall through and I’d have to start back from square one. So imagine my situation when I was required to be someone else’s confidante. Imagine when I’m not even sure what I was lending a shoulder for, grief, depression or simply the thrill of falling in love? Naturally, I had to negotiate for my own space when I was dying of trying to survive paeds. That’s when someone I thought I can go back to whenever decided to choose-which means either I adjust to his/her requirement or I talk to him/her where the sun don’t shine. I got the latter. And I also learnt an important lesson my mother always said repeatedly but I failed to pay heed to- never trust anybody. Family is all you get.

I marched on despite the heart break, a burning fuel within me to prove everyone wrong. I didn’t know what I was working towards to prove, but I was going to do it nonetheless. I continued to study day and night like a mad cow. I faltered one too many times but somehow made it towards the finish line- only to find myself at another starting point with a time bomb ticking in my head to few months expiration date. I thought I had a reliable study group to revise topics made up of five of us. One of them I was sure was going to leave at some point so I didn’t even bother to hope much. The other two decided to take their leave too, probably because they found the study group ineffective and grew arid as we struggled to meet each other’s demands and availability. Well, that got me mired, I was left destitute and driven to desperate choices to continue with the battle. There were two of us left languished and it wasn’t enough manpower to have a holistic coverage of the topics. As if that problem did not suffice, you really can’t put both of us in the same room. We had the shortest fuses in our heads, we snap and we do not tolerate. But I figured, I have to compromise in order for this dysfunctional system to actually work. We went to hospitals almost everyday, we discorded on meagre things especially when our techniques were mismatched. Instead of correcting each other and deciding on a standard method, we were trying to prove one another right, not wanting to compromise to criticism. I just had to keep to my faith, pray very hard and just agree to disagree. Both of us were not wrong, but we were definitely not right either but what can we do when personalities clash? Not a good type of synergism but we made it happen and I’m thankful for that. Somewhere in the middle of all this, I had an episode of infected sebaceous cyst which needed, initially, an I&D but turned out to be difficult so my surgeon decided to do an excision without an LA. Trust me, it’s terrible. I had no one to hold on to but I had to soldier through. They only decided to give me LA once I told them I couldn’t. Now I have a reason to tell my patients to be brave when going through an OP because I know how it feels to go under the knife, literally.

How my phone looked like the last month.

With a 4-week expiration stamped to our foreheads, everybody decided to leave for home, spend time with family, to have good food whilst studying in a controlled but peaceful environment. I, on the other hand, stayed back in college and spent most of my nights at the seven-floor building. Most of the time, I was studying in fear because a) someone might appear out of nowhere and rape me and b) the anatomy lab was two floors right below probably with cut up cadavers. I was always looking behind my back and to my benefit, the fear turned out to be useful as it helped me combat sleep. I was lucky that for the first two weeks, the vet students were at the ground floor studying like mad cows themselves for their final exam. Two weeks later, they all passed with ease and their name decorated with a ‘dr’ prefix. I had to spend certain nights alone and made sure to go back by 12am until some junior boys started spending their time there and they too soon disappeared. Suren started appearing towards the end and for that, I am forever grateful. I used to bug him to inform me when he leaves so I too can leave once there is no one there. It was terrible staying alone at the seven-floor building, I could hear the sough of the breeze dancing below the leaves, rustling it as it passed, the barking of a pack of dogs more than often put on a disgusting show of copulating middle of the street and catching shadows passing by the corners of my eyes, not knowing if it really was a person or something else.

How I looked majority of the time (read: eyebags).

Before I knew it, we soon arrived at the day before exam. I really can’t recall anything significant on this day except for being inherently scared with my heart beating in my throat and trying to cram everything into my head even though that’s nearly impossible.

DAY 1: MEQ

Since I was so scared and yet to adapt to exam environment, I realised I went blank during the first medical based paper. Couldn’t come up with anything suggestive of TB despite clear cut clue of a child with chronic cough, fever and shotty lymph nodes. The rest, I somehow managed. Managed to surprise myself by remembering about acetabular fracture which I read one month ago.

DAY 2: SBAQ

I think I did well only to find out multiple careless mistakes done because I was too hasty. Didn’t spend much time mulling over this matter because I had OSCE to prepare for the next day.

DAY 3: OSCE

Oh god, have mercy on those who marked my answers for the written stations. And may the lord have mercy on Dr. Haikal for putting up with my bullshit in the hepatitis station.

Patient: what is the normal level of albumin?

Me:*fts* urm around 80 (??)

Patient: what is the normal level of AST, ALT, ALP?

Me: *I’m so screwed* urm roughly within the range of 100-200(??)

I look at Dr. Haikal scratching his head.

Or perhaps the ophthal station.

*checks visual acuity*

Patient :unable to read the biggest letter on the Snellen’s chart.

Me: power 60/60!

Also me: panics but doesn’t bother to correct and gave up entirely in that station.

I don’t know how am I going to live the rest of my life carrying the weight of these mistakes.

Four days later, the list for clinical exam schedule was released and truth be said, I was so confident that I would at least be the second day if not the third, because that’s how it has always been. So imagine my fear when I see my name on the first day for short case and long case for the second day. Partly glad to be able to finish exams early but partly worried because I definitely won’t be able to go through every single main topics.

Day 1: Short case.

Again, due to uncontrollable panic, I was unable to compose myself, found myself to be tongue-tied and unable to present my findings eloquently. I quickly picked myself up in the next short case. And for the third, I “intelligently” examine for hepatospleenomegaly before realising that the mass was dancing under my hands as I tried to ballot. Definitely kidney. Then, it all clicked in my head. AV fistula, ballotable mass, Dr Fadh as the examiner. How could I be so stupid? I remember having done with all three of my short cases and walking out as I repeatedly screamed in my head , “I could have done better. I know I can. I know!” . Unfortunately for me, I only get one chance, just like everything in life. Just one chance to make it right.

I told myself that there was no use dwelling about my mistakes in short case. I. Need. To. Focus. For. My. Long. Case.

And so I did. I stretched my limits that night and prepared to the maximum of my capabilities.

Day 2: Long case.

Scared out of my damn wits obviously. I couldn’t control my fear. I hugged Shariny who was equally as nervous, if not more. I followed the personnel to the room my patient was waiting. I sent a silent prayer to God and my grandparents. Help me.

I enter the Stream 4 Long Case room and saw a serene middle aged man lying comfortably supine on the bed. The personnel got my timer started and I introduced myself and started to build rapport.

Me: sir can I know what is the reason you are here for?

Patient: I had cancer near my ‘rectum’.

I smiled. And the rest was history.

I continuously went to the temple every single day to beg for mercy, blessing and peace while my weak heart awaited results it wasn’t so sure of. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t be sure in the end. I think that tells a lot about the Professional exams. Unpredictable. 50% luck. The remaining percentage a concoction of effort, perseverance and persistence.

Results day

How do I even begin to describe that day? It was just nerves and palpitations. I started my day with a morning visit to the temple with friends. I came back only to find myself to have lost my appetite for food and water. There was a frog taking shelter in my throat that I cannot get rid of. I lay on the bed,trying to ease into a sleep but to no avail. I toss and turn and burn a hole through my bed trying to do that. Somehow, time arrived at 9.00am.

I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. I wanted to leave my room at the latest possible time, 9.55am perhaps. I had multiple runs to the toilet for my psychogenic bowel movement. On my last run, my housemates started getting ready to leave the room. I looked at my watch and it was merely 9.30am. What is wrong with these people? One of my friends managed to coax me into walking with them so I found myself dragging my foot one in front of the other to the DKU hall. I reach early and I see one by one of my friends ease their way into the hall and find a spot cosy enough to settle down with the nerves. Alin sees herself seated beside me. And throughout the whole afternoon all she was saying is, “Moksha imagine them calling out your name as distinction for certain posting” and she persistently said it despite my futile efforts of trying to stop her. It was making me more nervous. I didn’t want to get my hopes high. I didn’t want disappointment. I wanted to expect results suited to my quality of performance. All I wanted was a pass.

10.05am.

10.10am.

10.20am.

It finally begin.

 

I don’t remember the rest of the event leading up to the calling of our names individually. My hands were clammy and cold. My heart thumping so fast I could hear it. My legs restless I couldn’t stop the shaking. Sweat dropping to its death at the small of my back. The dean emerged to the stage and understandingly went straight to the announcement of names. Three people later I realised the list is alphabetically ordered. I patiently waited with my heart about to jump out of my rib cage.

When the dean got to my name, he stammered, hesitated and I knew it was my name. Complicated and long. But he found his way through.

Mokshashri Naidu A/P Ragubathi.

All the tension that has been building up finally collapsed like the Great Wall of China collapsing on itself into a pile of rubble at my feet. I fished out my phone from my pocket and immediately texted my family. I have finally obtained the prefix ‘Dr’ in front of my name. No scratch that. I have finally earned the qualification to save lifes. What a wonderful feeling that is? Enigmatic. The dean finally came to the end of the list. Dr Isy then made his way to the podium, congratulated all of us despite success or failure and proceeded to say that he was going to announce the top 10 students.

I remember hearing the people around me saying my name, taunting me to be excited. I mastered all the strength that I could, blocked those noises out and screamed repeatedly in my head that I am not worthy of such honor. I did not perform to that standards. Therefore, I must not have my hopes high lest I find myself disappointed. I am happy with what I have and – “Okay I will announce the names; first student’s name…”- I do not deserve it. We must only hope for how much we work for – “you know what I’ll just present the faces on the screen”- I must never be greedy despite what others tell. I know my limits and I will be thankful for what I get-

The faces of the top 10 student flashed on the big screen in front of us.

 

I see a familiar face. A young, chubby and innocent me.

I screamed (50 dB).

I looked closer. That can’t be me. Straightened hair. Dark skin from all that sun exposure I didn’t bother to lather sunblock for. My friends started shouting at me, holding my hands and shaking me inordinately.

It finally dawned on me. I did make it into that list. That is me.

Second scream (80dB).

I felt all the blood drain out of me. I lost strength. I buried my face in my lap and felt the strength of a sob push through my chest. And I started crying. My hands shaking. We were called in front to the stage to represent the batch for the Hippocratic oath-taking. I don’t remember what I said but I meant every word.

My mind wanders to my first ever interview for the intake of my batch. I remember saying that I will adhere to the Hippocratic oath and swear by it if I was given the chance. Here I am, finally swearing by the oath!

I gave my mum a call, unable to hide the sob. My mum started getting worried.

Mum: why?!?! What’s the matter?!?! Did you fail?!

Me: No..I…I…

Mum: Whattttt?! Can you stop crying and –

Me: I got into the top 10 list…

Mum: What? Top 10…?

Me: YES TOP 10!

Mum: who else of your friends?

My mum and I, we always thought if I can do it, my friends could do ten-fold better.

Me: no one else. I’m the only.

We continued crying with and to each other before I had to end the call and carry on with the congratulations and goodbyes that were about to follow.

I think you can guess what came next: packing of bags, cleaning my room, thinking I wouldn’t be seeing my college ever again only to find out I’ll be returning for the next 6 months of work. But so far, I’m trying to live my best life and do everything I have thought to do i.e. red hair, nail extensions and yada yada. You get the gist. I’m taking one step at a time, spending time with my parents, completing Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time and just reading and writing my heart out. I’m just twiddling my thumbs athirst for the string of events of rewards and ceremonies, not to celebrate my success, but to see my parents smile with pride. You’ve done half the deed as a child if you can give one moment to your parents to boast with their boon companions. After 10 years, I finally gave that to my parents. And I cannot wait to watch them applaud for my success because it is mainly their success in parenthood to have raised such a child.

So friends, juniors, anybody at all, fret not if you’re not intelligent enough, not the creme of the cream. Just put in the effort and watch it work. Even if you break a multiple time, or had someone break you, take the two ends of your sanity and slap on an imaginary Ilizarov. Let the distraction osteogenesis do the work. Remember, work when everybody is sleeping.

My heartfelt gratitude to UPM for being the reason I am this person, my lecturers for shaping me into a doctor, friends who have helped with genuine hearts and my parents and family for being my strength when I had none.

Love, Moksha.

Interval

Taking a short interval to be back from my social media abstinence and drop by here just to, you know, smother a big fat hello on this page. I’ve missed being able to write. But anyways, good news came knocking right up my door.

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It really feels ecstatic to see your name in print. It’s more like an addiction really. I never get tired of it. And every damn time, the same emotions swallow me and I really don’t mind feeling that way. I’ve got a couple more weeks of abstinence. Wait for me, I might release a damn book once I’m done with my undergraduate school.

A whiff of Familiarity

Just yesterday I caught a rainbow on camera. It gave me a whiff of the past. About two years (or was it three years?) back, I was in a similar frame of time. Chasing after a pass in the previous Professional exams. I had company to get food with and to return to the room with. In some parallel time, as we were getting our take-away food back to the room, we stumbled upon a rainbow. Or was it a double rainbow? I can’t really recall I’m going on here based on long-term memories so forgive me for the lack of details.

I’m a firm believer of things like “oh this happened twice, it must mean something”. I know it’s stupid but that’s how I work. So this rainbow brings me back to that moment. That raw feeling of fear and claustrophobia feeling like the walls were closing in on me from the pressure of all I’ve had to study/cover.

Today, a surgeon went through all the topics we’ve had to cover for the current exit exam and agreed that we’ve got quite a boulder on our backs. It will be hard and there’s no denial. I’m nearing my final rotation exams and making the transition from comfortable studying to express functional, no-space-for-joking studying. I’m starting to get the whiff of fear I once had. The whiff of stress that sends my insides into a frenzy of palpitation and imaginary volvulus. I’m counting my blessing of all the people who are willing to stand with me in this ordeal. But there are also those who I am cautious about who’d be able to disturb my focus in a snap of the fingers, typical Thanos fashion. My mental status and preparation is my armour and I would need to take care of it like the infant I never pushed out of my vagina. All necessary measures for my welfare need to be taken before I enter the battle (of Winterfell?).

So before the night walkers come, I need to prepare my Melisandre for the fire, my own army of Unsullied and build my mental strength to be a reflection of Arya Stark. For my biggest battle will be with the Cersei that takes the form of my exit exam.

Ciao ardent readers. I don’t want to piss anyone off writing about anything that isn’t about them, but because words are so ambiguous and labile for misinterpretation, I should stop using my emotions to write. See you after exams (which is in less that a couple months). Bali, Brindhavan and Kashmir awaits. 🌈

PS: check out my previous post dedicated to Lady Mormont and what happened to her in the fight with the Giant and how I related it to basal cell carcinoma as I was revising my surgical lumps and bumps while watching episode 3 of season 8 of game of thrones.

Bush-fire

Basal cell carcinoma presents itself like a bush-fire appearance-wise. Radical or geographical spreading of its margins like a bush-fire. Starts fierce at the centre and spreads it’s ring of palisade-like margin to a slow-dying blurred demarcation.

That’s how she was. Hard and fierce like a basal cell carcinoma. Loud and demanding in what she wants. She made a point. She proposed a welcome. But you know what they say about people who over-stay their welcome; rude. This feels like a welcome thrown into oblivion. Ignored. Welcomes last only for so long. She was dictative, almost dogmatic. She was willing to negotiate her ego. She was in a catch-22 but she came up with a stipulation. But time, you see, is a bitch. It irons out the most palpable anger. It crushes out the strongest belief. It brings faith to atheists. It changes religion. Point being, it’s never the same.

Now, be careful. She getting used to it. She’s almost comfortable with not having. She’s okay with nothing. Time is being a kind acolyte. Perhaps one day, she’ll be convinced enough to agree.

And die out slow like the bush fire she is.

Looking Over Her Back

She sat at the corner of the terrain. Calm by the company of a stranger that she found safety in. Time flowed like water in the creek, she lost track. It was too hard to hold on to time. It escalated to peaks and nothingness in venial. She sat herself in a constant trance buried in all the knowledge she was trying to remember. Trying to understand. The paucity of what remained retained scares her. But she does not let it hold her back. She sits and has her nose buried, as the world around her went on.

The wind picked up speed.

The stranger left.

The trees shook in unison and in agreement with the whispers of the wind.

She felt languished in a prison of uncomfortable solitude.

In a moment of scruple, she thought the situation twice over. And finally decided against staying. She decided, it was tiring indeed, to keep looking over her back for bad men sneaking up on her. Her cervical region crackled in pain to the acute twists of her mandible, bilaterally.

She took the familiar road down winding pathway. No matter how familiar it all felt, in that moment, she realized.

It’s possible to feel completely estranged blanketed in 5 years of familiarity.

5 minutes before 24

For some reason, of all the previous birthdays that I’ve had, this one makes my intestines somersault. My heart settles into a stable tachycardia. My thinking a little haywire. 24 means a year of many milestones. Many achievement and with that comes high expectations to meet. Birth of new responsibilities to uphold. Transition into a life I’m not familiar with of all goes well with uni. My 23rd was nothing short of splendid and I would do it all again. I’m scared for 24 but my hands are open for all possibilities.

2 more minutes into adulthood.