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By Hafsa Amin
M.B.B.S. First Year
"How did I actually manage to get here?" "I don't know a freaking thing about anatomy." "What am I going to do? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?" "I am so gonna flunk this!" "If I pass, I will pray two nafal-e-shukrana." "Actually, make that four." "Pehli substage me fail hogayi tou kitni bisti hogi??" "Make that six nafail!" 

These are the thoughts that run rampant in your mind before the first substage. The substage looms ahead wearing the ugliest smile that makes your heart go faster and coils your intestines into a painful knot. Everytime you accidentally forget about the substage and actually start having some fun, something or somebody reminds you by asking, "Kitna parh lia?" And the smile dies right there on your lips.

The thoughts about clavicle, axilla and the brachial plexus make their way to your nightmares and you start doubting everything you've ever achieved. You actually think once or twice about killing yourself. Or killing your past self for not paying attention in DH or wasting those good 3 hours on facebook or instagram. The reading room gets filled up with people of all kinds: those who came to study, those who came to get a little motivation to study and then there are those who just came to convince themselves that they were studying. Turning to seniors for advice, you ask them what to study so that you just pass and live to tell the tale.
The last night before the substage finds all the doomed people studying their butts off in the quiet of their room or actually censuring themselves to have ended up like that. Sleep evades you and apprehension becomes your pal. Cursing yourself, you try to sleep (fitfully) and before long, dawn breaks and you drag yourself from bed. The greatest stuggle you face is to look well groomed to make a good first impression and maskeen( enough so that  if your viva does go downhill, you still scrape a pass by putting up a pitiful appearance.

8:00 am finds the white coats in a frenzy. Some trying to cram at the last minute and some trying not to lose their chill. If you get done with your viva in the start, good. If you get stuck till the last minute, you may or may not have a nervous attack by the end of it. The viva itself feels trivial compared with all the hype. Five minutes and you're free ( half an hour, if you're really unlucky) and then comes the moment when you feel like a short-lived celebrity (missing only a mic and photographers) "Hey, kaisa hua?" "What were the questions like?" " Do they look like they'll fail us?" "You think you'll pass?" And then it hits you- IT'S OVER. Whether pass or fail, that feeling is exhilarating in itself. Anyway, the result comes, and you find yourself whooping with joy and high-fiving somebody if you pass. And if you fail, well, all the self-blaming starts again. 
Either way, you find yourself light-hearted. And who can say no to celebrating at Bigmann's or the ice-cream place just across the street.

In short, you feel like the happiest person in the place. But hey, there's always a next substage!



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