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Through the Looking Glass

By Mushal Noor
(published in Kemcol 2014)

It isn't pretty when you get out of these walls; walls we've all been dying to escape. It isn’t easy either. That is life; stuff happens. Moving to another country. Failing an exam or interview. The death of a family member. A miscarriage. A broken marriage. It will happen to us, and to those we know.

You'll see that academic success is no guarantee of success in the real world. Those who had supplees will also Match. Some of the Theetas will fail their first FCPS attempt. The girl who trumpeted throughout first year that her dad was a surgeon and she'd be one too, will skip housejob and become a stay-at-home mom. The guy who went through medical college only because his parents forced him to, will sit for the CSS exam soon after his father dies.

In the sanctity and comfort of the Physio and Patiala lecture theaters, sitting on the same benches, you will not realize how different you all are. Ten years down the line- some in BMW's with trophy wives on their arms, others barely eking out a living, sharing bachelor apartments- you will. Some, brilliant and conscientious diagnosticians. Others, fleecing their patients and winging it all the way. Among the women, some will find fulfillment in home and family and turn their backs on careers. Others will agonize over work-family balance, as they deliver mewling newborns while their own are looked after by the Aaya at home.

But as your life experiences multiply manifold, you will start to empathize with people and their choices. You'd understand that the world isn't black and white- it's only grey. A million shades of grey. You'll learn to stop judging:  'I would never, ever make such a choice!' or 'I can't understand how they could do that!' There are just too many variables. You can never compare anyone else's story to your own.

Some will find love, some won't. If you're lucky, you'll learn that love- all love- hurts.  It's true what they say; you have to look inwards for happiness. But also that money is more important than you probably give it credit for at your stage. Some friendships will endure despite distance and time. Other's will fade and wither away.

What we never thought could happen to us- will. Life will surprise you many such times. It will leave you numb, and shocked, and gasping for air. It will fall to pieces around you. For the princess in pink, the porcelain doll: the bubble will pop and dreams will shatter. For the maseeha, the humanitarian wanting to save the world: he will begin to understand that logistics and practicality matter a lot, and idealism often falls flat. You will begin to see life as it is, rather than as you want it to be.

Yes, life will be hard for most of you. But it will be up to you to meet it head on, and to keep the bitterness and despair at bay.  One door will close. And then another. And maybe even a third. You will knock and stand waiting in front of one door too long. You will hopelessly pound at another.

But if you endure, you will be there to see the one that finally does open. You will define your own anchors and meaning. Your patients. Religion. The money and bling bling. Family. Fame. Love. Professional success. To each, his own.

But despite it all, there will always be humanity who ails far worse than you do. You will see this every day- at your clinics and your practices and your hospitals.

There will be patients whose memory stays with you for years upon years, their suffering etched into your mind. You, Doctor, may not be able to heal thyself; but you will heal and comfort and assuage all those who come to you. And in the process maybe, just maybe, some part of yourself too.


I don’t mean to serve Chicken Soup for the Soul. But with more than three years of post-KE life under my belt, I do have my own two cents to dish out. So.

Be kind.

Do not envy. For you do not know what goes on behind closed doors, and FB facades, and in steeled hearts.

Be thankful to God and the people in your life. For there is always so much to be thankful for.

Be conscientious.

Dream. Dream big. And when it doesn’t work out, dream anew.

Give it your best shot.

Be there for your parents as they were for you. Whilst you still have time.

Remember why you started in the first place, even when it seems too hard to go on. Keep going and you Will get there. Eventually.

Take those risks. But listen to your head as well.

There will be great sorrows. There will be great joys. And that is as it should be.

Photo Credits: Muhammad Bilal 


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