1851hr East Africa Time. Tired. Drained and worn out. Eventually I decide to leave the Library having paid my brain its due. It’s not over though. Quite a load of work to do still. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.
I walk down towards the hostels determined to get to my room as quick as possible. Just go lie on my bed and relax. To let my mind wander freely within the vault of my skull. Then I remember something. I have borne this blog’s pregnancy for the requisite duration and the due date is almost clocking . My progeny will soon be brought into this world so that you can interact with him. I’m convinced and convicted that it will be a constructive engagement.
Pen to paper I decide to recollect and jot down a few events that have propelled me to where I am. Sincerely speaking, being a child I always had this ardent desire to be a doctor. In my village and even now a doctor was usually referred to as ” Laktar ” – as white as teeth, though nowadays I hear some village elites calling them daktari. It was a yearning. A longing I knew could only be fulfilled if I managed to set foot in medical school.
Of course, I couldn’t just wake up one day and find myself somewhere in a human anatomy laboratory trying to decipher the course of the facial nerve. The facial nerve is the 7th of the 12 cranial nerves. An uphill task was glaring at me. It was pretty clear that a series of events had to unfold. Books had to be read and exams had to be passed. Being in a Catholic sponsored primary school, the then head-teacher one Sr. Patricia – “Patti” is the nickname we ascribed her; was a very strict disciplinarian. She was always at the forefront to ensure that her boys were streamlined. Discipline is the key to success. That was and still is my life mantra.
Back then in primary school every kid wanted to be a pilot, an engineer, a neurosurgeon for those who envied the medical profession. Believe you me, innocent children wanted to be the captain of some ship cruising the murky waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Mention any prestigious profession and all kids would be endeared to it. It was only later in high school that when things got thick and guys started earning marks equal to their age that I heard an otherwise queer thing. An ambitious young man had the kahunas to redefine the kid’s rule of thumb. At first, he wanted to be an engineer, a teacher, a driver,then a tout. You know, when things get tough up the ladder. He must have been joking anyway. I’ve never elucidated where some teachers used to set those Physics contests from anyway . Or was it because there was this book, Ordinary Level Physics by A .F . Abbott in the library that I seldom had intellectual engagements with?
Time elapsed quickly and there I was a form one in a school where I attended classes in the North and camped in a dormitory -“house” as we used to call them in the South. The principal, “H” always reiterated that anyone who managed to go through that school would be well equipped to survive in the Sahara desert. I mean anywhere in the world. Hardwired for struggle. Kindly spare me the agony of having to recount the events that surrounded my stay in that school. It is a kin to a sojourn to Timbuktu and back.
God’s grace was sufficient. The objectives for that season were achieved. It would be unkind to finish this bit without mentioning the words of my teacher and by extension school mum “Madam Irene. Her sentiments, “We are going to make it. Why not? “ have always had a special place in my long term memory. They have always reverberated in my mind.
Thanks to all the teachers. Their steadfast support. Commitment and dedication. Their availability for consultation even at odd times and above all gentle love were the best. Their contribution to the materialisation of this journey was really immense . Heartfelt gratitude.
Everyday when I see the light of the day. No, it’s s not always lit up. At times it’s always naked dark. It’s not the dreaded darkness though. When I grudgingly kick off that warm blanket to encounter the real world. To chase dreams. I usually remember one thing. That destiny is calling.
It’s always the wish of every normal African child to be a great person when they grow up. I haven’t sat in a class where children of Caucasian, American or European descent are the majority. I am yet to. Maybe. I will then find out if they bear different ambitions . But how will I really sit in a class with children. I’m not a child. I love my dad and mummy. Perhaps I will compose a song. I will learn how to play the Viola pomposa. I will then accompany the kids to play. I’ll strike the strings . With all the excitement, it would be my opportune moment to get the answer.
Joining medical school was such an exhilarating experience to me especially. People have always had superfluous views concerning medical school and generally the medical practice. You are served with all manner of speculations. A myriad of myths and misconceptions. Why you would have to quit savouring beef, mutton and chevon . Why you should not carry your cellphone to college. Why your body will be just but a mode of transporting your head to class. It can never be that bad . You can’t be that disembodied. I was yet to confirm the same.
Level one in medical school has never been easy. Those were the sentiments being shared by senior colleagues. Of course it dawned on me that it was the naked truth. No joke.
Introductory classes and the orientation phase were the “best times” I can imagine of. Fortunately or unfortunately, it was the time the government had come up with this idea of double intake. That meant a poor me would have to be polished through this system for a period of 6 solid years. I mean from when a child is born until they start formal schooling.
The world over, freshman years have always been shrouded with a lot of hullabaloo here and there. It’s the stage of your life when you must ascertain to the entire world and confirm to your dear parents that you can indeed live your life independently. Sorry. In this world no one is ideally independent. A grown up you are. You have got expectations to live up to. By the way your village is watching.
Learning commenced amidst confusion and before I knew it the Embryology lecturer had covered three good topics within two weeks. What I thought was just introduction. That translates into three heavy chapters of vocabulary you had to incorporate into your day to day conversations if it all you cared to acquire the ability to sustain an intellectual conversation.
Then there was this one unit. Human anatomy. Interesting as it was . Here you interact with the “professors” who have gone to dine with the Supreme Intelligence. God rest their souls in peace. They are your friends. They teach you and you are more than willing to drink from their cup of knowledge. You must know in detail every bone in the human body. Where the hair that grows on your head came from must be elicited.
Of course with a little bit of fun learning became more interesting. Plus in school you meet all the kinds of students you can think of.
At an horrendous rate time flew. A week, two, a month, three months, a semester .. and eventually a whole academic year was down. End of year exams were fast approaching and that signaled only one thing. Your quest to satisfy the board of examiners that you have the capacity to proceed to the next level of study is on trial . Cortisol levels are high up. You are so pregnant with expectation.
Waiting for results is not easy.
The news that you have satisfied the board brings so much joy and elation that you can only thank God. The majesty who sits beside you daily as you try to unravel a few mysteries. Why a behemoth of a book with 1532 pages should be called Short Practice of Surgery? Why a multiple choice question with options A through E where both choice B) and C) are correct, B) is deemed the most appropriate answer. Reason, it precedes C). That means you have to be smart.
You grace level two with the seriousness it deserves. By the way if you don’t enjoy level two, forget about getting such a moment in medical school. And now here you are at level three. Clinical medicine is “revving” your mind high up at more than 2000 rpm. Every patient is an exam. You are overly ambitious that your efforts will one day come to fruition. Therefore, you get the motivation to press on. All you desire is to commit to the milestones you make.
You give it your best shot.