A Freshman’s Jolt; King Edward Chapter by Amna Khalil (1st Year)
King Edward was like a dream, dreamt with the full acknowledgement of it never being fulfilled ever. A few weeks into the declaration of the result, I would find myself squashing my tongue between my teeth again and again or pinching myself here and there. Watching how the planets aligned and led me to the one thing I truly desired in life was indeed amazing. Ecstatic, I watched all the KEMU videos on Youtube beforehand and nearly memorized the popular kemtips off the blogspot. In short, I was already in love with King Edward before even seeing it with my own eyes.
When I had to choose my subjects two years ago, I sank down into the sofa and I pondered and pondered over the issue. All I really wanted to do in life at that time was watch T.V .Four months into pre-engineering, the thought of me lying on my death bed (yes! I am quite the morbid person) hit me and made me think real hard about what would matter to me then. What would matter enough to give me the real satisfaction of having done something purposeful in life? Life? What could matter more in life than life itself?
The sheer fragility of life. It was then that I knew what I had to do , be there for people as they fought the fight between life and death, hold their hand as they won or lost that fight in a quarter of a second. As morose as it may sound, it did fascinate me. So did the fact that overalls look totally hot. It was then that I decided it was either going to be King Edward or nothing at all.
The real romance stirred up when I first set my eyes on the Patiala block. Across the Neela Gunbad chowk, it stood. The towering edifice of Patiala, a white stature of solitude, a virginal sanctuary .A transient glance, a moment caught in time. I stared dumbstruck at what fate had brought me to. Oh! I so couldn’t wait to embark on this new journey.
Orientation day was fun. Walking down the mayo road on the first day in our crisp overalls was the best feeling ever. The sun to that morning had indeed come up after many a late caffeine infused nights. We strutted along in our bright overalls, basking in the glory of our sweet reincarnation from the ultimate thetas to doctors-to-be.
Everywhere in the auditorium, people were recognizing the familiar faces of strangers across shoveling heads and shouting out to them. Having moved into the hostel a night before, I had made about a dozen new friends already so luckily I was spared the whole being-jam packed-in-a-hall-with-three-hundred-new-faces ordeal. Moreover, thanks to Facebook, we already knew half our class fellows and had made a million assumptions beforehand.
After the batch photo was taken, I walked up the stairs that separate Patiala from the real hustle bustle of the university and I wondered how incredible it would be to get lost in such a place , to have my name carved into the history of this majestic place. It was only later that I realized, there wasn’t much space to get lost in.
Follow the road straight ahead the “zero point”, and you enter the real life. Mayo, a sea of woe and demise, of white coats and thin blankets that may or may not last the night. The Big Ben on top, tick-tocking steadily. The seconds one has, till the last breath, put on plain view. The overlooking cold corridors of the Bahawalpur block that would prepare us for what lay waiting just across the road. Vulnerable forms on stretchers, the distinctive stench of poverty and the fear of how much shall be expected out of you and whether or not you shall be able to deliver. The white gate of the university is the only thing that separates you from the responsibility that awaits you.
Thou shall become so wholly daunted by the splendor of the place that only a sudden wet plop on the shoulder shall stir you out of your condition. Pigeon poop!!! The sopping identity of an entire institution on your very own shoulder.
Heads can be classified two ways, wanna-do-it ones and nah-I’ll-pass ones. Edwardian pigeons are indifferent to bad-hair days though and may leave your tresses in a worst condition than they already were on the day of the sub stage. However, they are more likely to bless you the one day you actually made the effort to wear a clean, properly ironed overall. I read somewhere that “The poop is not the poop, the pigeon is the poop”, and to eradicate the problem, you need to conclude the root of the problem first. In this case though, with all due sympathies to Nemo, I feel like neither the poop nor the pigeon is the real poop. Pigeons are the life of K.E, reminiscent of a time gone by. Like truck art, they adorn the slanting roofs of the labs. The real poop in this whole scenario is that there’s no way to get a proxy marked in Anatomy.
Dissection was what I dread the most about medical. The dissection hall is as frightening as it ought to be, dead bodies in a row, with the sunlight illuminating them through the punctures in the roof. It’s as if the divine light from the afterlife is reaching out to the cadavers. But when I saw our cadaver, a burn victim sprawled across the bed, waiting to reveal its secrets to us; life bitch slapped me across the face and jerked me out of my immature self. The crude veracity of life and what it would reduce down to, one day, stared right at me from hollow jaundiced balls. Fish oil capsules that carried a sea of secrets. It takes time to get accustomed to the smell of formalin and for many days, all I saw in my nightmares was the tranquil face, the distant glare.
Soon I discovered that physiology lectures are the best place to unwind. When O-i-n-s and incessant calls of “dr.sahaaaab “fail to interest me, I drift away into a deep slumber of my own rambling thoughts. Many a times I catch myself pondering over the baffling train tracks carved across my palms and wondering whether Allah would ever bestow the power to save a life in these slabs of flesh? Mere meat?!? I don’t take notes much but when I do, I look over at my writing and that’s the only evidence that I might actually become a good doctor one day. Dirty scribbling, it really is the sole consolation.
Sick of the roach-infested biryani of the hostel cafeteria and famished to death , Al-Kareeem , to us, was like heaven. The size of the place didn’t matter much , what mattered was the distinctive aroma of freshly baked bread that embraced us all in a calorific hug. Kudos to AlKareem for having kept us alive this long.
University gives us the chance to meet people from so many different places, each and every one with a story to tell. It’s just been two months and the shy smiles have sprung up into uninterrupted conversations across the dissection hall beds, the flat military style haircuts have been replaced by haywire chaos and chappals by gaudy boots. Transitions prove to be extremely amusing to watch and gossip about in the barren lawns of the hostel.
Hostel, at first sight, was a nightmare .The allotment was more like throwing your mattress on any piece of carpeted ground you could find and claiming that space to be yours. I got my space in the middle of the room, surrounded by a sea of mattresses. Thirteen girls in a single room, with mattresses side to side, was no slumber party. Sadly on our first night there, the rugby-sized rats gate-crashed as well and added to the misery of cold showers and fungus.
On the first weekend we spent at the hostel, while others set off to fortress we caught a rickshaw to the Mall. A scoop of Movenpick and a large platter of panini sandwiches later, we were like “Hey!!!!This feels like Lahore atlas!!!” Having spent all my childhood summers at my Nano’s, Lahore was no alien, but discovering and rediscovering new places unchaperoned and with crazy chaotic friends has its own allure.
I believe that once you get into K.E, it’s like proof enough of your sanity so you have the official right to go insane. Seriously going down the elevator the wrong way around, trying out all the outfits one can find in a mall, hanging out from the sides of the rickshaw and scaring people on the sidewalk sure is a hell lot of fun.
University years are the ones in which you make friends that shall last your entire life. Friends that stay up the entire night with you when its your sub stage and you haven’t done a single thing , the laptop-waley friends that make you watch movies till four in the morning right before the physiology test , the ultimate metal head friends who mock you for that single Katy Perry song in your ipod and introduce you to the world of “Children of Bodom” , friends who make you johar-joshanda when you are down with flu , the thetas who kick you out of the dorm cause you wont study and wont let them study either , the ones who paint your nails blue for you and the ones that bring you tikriyan and sohan halwa . The ones who know shall always have your back and will always lend you your cellphone when you need to place an order at three in the morning. At times, these people seem to be the only reason you endure all the difficulties hostel life brings along.
When lazy Sundays at the hostel get way too boring, one sneaks out the backdoor to explore the heart of Lahore , Anarkali. So did we.
Cheap thrills ,neon lights and Dolce and Gabbana bags for 150PKR a piece , Anarkali is a wonder in itself. We set out to explore the heart of Lahore in a huge group. Kasr-e-shereen k samosay , Guddu Fries , Riaz ka Faluda , we tried it all.(and thus spent the next day getting high on Eno) .
So far, King Edward has been amazing. The glamorous welcome party, Mayo k parathay , learning Turkish swear words and fighting over overalls. The monotony does kick in at times and we all have our weekly-crying-sessions in the washroom but the charisma of being a Kemcolian wipes all the tears away. Something tells me that whatever happens, these upcoming five years shall be the best years of my life.Inshallah.