I’m seated on my bed, with my roommate’s Beats By Dre earphones cancelling out all outside noise. I’m listening to wonderful music tracks by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a gift from one of our friends who lives a few blocks away. My room is a mess, with slightly wet clothes hanging from the doors of my wardrobe. The rugs that cover a portion of the floor in the room have solid particles brought in by sandals and shoes that have been walking all over. I have a pair of blue socks on my feet, preventing me from feeling the pesky little things. One batch of recently washed clothes lies in a crumpled heap on top of my suitcase in the wardrobe. Another batch is embroiled in a tough battle for space in a duffel bag with a few books, my chess board and my chess clock. There are books and written on foolscaps lying haphazardly in the shelves that together with the brown table standing a few millimetres from my bed.
I have an old Nokia phone lying beside my laptop, but I don’t bother to check it. No one has texted or called me, which is just fine. My smartphone got spoilt a few days ago, and I have had to resort to my old yet sturdy Nokia friend to fill in the gap while I make enough money to buy another smartphone. It has been an interesting twist of events. I feel like I have lost an arm, like I have lost a trusty lieutenant. I quickly put such unproductive thoughts away. There are more urgent things to attend to.
I’m briefly overwhelmed by a worrying realization that I’m barely getting by in class. I have a tremendous backlog of books and topics to read. The effects of this have begun to show in the wards. I cannot answer questions as effectively as I once could. Questions that I know are easy have left me grappling for balance, reeling from the disapproving stares from my seniors and from the consultants taking their precious time to show us the art of medicine. This is something that must change. I must take my rightful place among my fellow classmates, and spew forth weighty words of wisdom, and thus avoid the infamy that befalls on those who dare attend ward rounds with a blank mind. Appearances are important in medicine, and I will not continue to be caught with my pants down.
I have interacted with many different types of patients. I have even seen some of them die. To say that I have become desensitized to the plight of the human race would be an understatement. I am constantly staring at the spectre that is our public health system. The fact that our hospital is one of the best in the entire region is something that weighs heavily on my soul. I ask myself if I would want anyone I cared about to have to wait in one of those abnormally long queues in the quest for treatment. I do not like the answer that comes to mind. I ask myself if I would want to spend a night in these wards as a patient, and I suddenly shiver with trepidation and angst. For life changes in a heartbeat, and we will all become patients one day. I quickly push away these thoughts as well. I’m interested in productivity. Thinking about such things will only make me feel pessimistic. However, I make a mental note to keep reviewing these thoughts. I want to play a role in changing the role of the public and private health system in our country, and knowing how bad things are is the first step to picking up the pieces.
I grab the Nokia phone and my hands automatically start composing a message. I’m texting her. I like talking with her. She makes me smile. She makes me happy. She makes me feel like a man again. She represents a challenge. Getting her to open up, getting her to take the first step and initiate contact is a tough challenge that I have taken up with much relish. I don’t feel remorse or regret for having abandoned all of my other pursuits. I decided long ago to take ownership of the course of my life in all sectors. I refuse to be embroiled in complicated love triangles or be involved with people who are colder than that animated character in frozen. I have accepted the fact that this game is a dangerous dance of showing ourselves to someone else, and hoping that they are as crazy as you are to show you part of themselves as well. I do not know how this is going to shape up, but I care enough to want to find out. I’m afraid she’ll reject me, but it is a fear I’m willing to meet head on, when the time comes.
My body is tired, my mind aches from having to dredge deep into the sea of memories for long forgotten nuggets of information that were hurriedly assimilated in the sprint cum marathon that is school. My well worn notebook is full of assignments and important things that I need to have researched and read about before the next ward round, which is only seven hours away. There is a thin film of sweat all over my skin. I need to take a shower. My mouth needs a thorough cleansing before I can sleep. But alas, I have been here before. I know what will happen next. I’ll sleep on top of the bed and wake up in the darkest hour of the night, deeply disgusted with my failure to follow good hygiene. And then, too lazy to get up, too lazy to get in between the sheets, I’ll go back to sleep.
I shrug, and right at that moment the phone vibrates. I have a new message. I smile, and life goes on.