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Home Articles Nostalgia The Final Cut

The Final Cut

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My head feels heavy and groggy, as .I sit here, the table and room littered by my week's absence from it. Last night's revelry has finally taken its toll. The sky is overcast and the air damp with moisture. Helps set the mood....

Six years have slipped by, like a weekend or a short study holiday. Not that I was totally unaware of its passage, but just that this time the rush of nostalgia is difficult to ignore, having one month of the village posting remaining.
I am back to square one. Back to the days of uncertainty and doubt. Nervous of what lies ahead. Last year has trundled by with locomotive speed, as I rotated between departments and units. As a fresh ninth termer-turned-intern, I hardly knew how to draw a blood sample (setting up an IV -line was a more remote accomplishment). Now I can confidently do a cut-down, or an ABG (with some luck of course!), fill a whole lot of pink, yellow and white forms or scold a patient in Kannada if need be. I am calmer when I approach or handle a patient. However ECG's, ABG reports and X-Rays baffle me completely at times. "Hmm    " I opine wisely while the attendants wait expectantly by my side. Or poke a malicious finger at some obscure area of an X-Ray or CT-Scan with a "Nodi, problem edaye", while the relatives nod hesitantly, in fearful awe.

My knowledge and capability as an intern falls in a tight circle around my feet. All this, at the end of six years. One thing that has hit me hard and good, is the fact that with a mere MBBS degree I am nothing. A post graduate degree is a basic necessity. But with such cut-throat competition, what are the chances of landing a PG seat - in a subject of one's choice? It is difficult to swallow the gall, that after so many years of hardwork, endurance and sacrifice, we are paradoxically back to where we began - stranded in the doldrums to fight against a sea of MCQs again.

For me home had been my other half of life, but now less lit up, and frequented, these past 6 years. Reduced to just voices on the telephone or scribbled lines in cards and letters. During those measly holidays, things never quite looked the same at home. More illegal buildings, more rickshaws, more traffic jams and potholes. Mom had complained about a vague backache during one of my hurried phone calls. Now I see the severity of the pain. She can hardly walk or bend. So excruciating is the pain. Osteoporosis. A short note in Ortho, I recall. Easy to write answers. But difficult to treat. Dad looks smaller in size; more stooped, more weary. There's nothing in my newly acquired physician's arsenal that could reverse the effect of time just by a couple of years.

There is no Anjam or Ewans to visit. Both are well established in life. Anjam is now a first officer aboard the Knoll, he wrote to me in a post-card from Port Said. There is almost no continent or major port that he has not seen. Last time he was down in Calcutta, we drove around in his brand new second-hand Maruti. "So what plans now?" He asked casually. He was surprisingly patient and understanding when I told him.

Ewans was less merciful "I think you're wasting too much time". Ewans was the frightfully ambitious, competitive type. And also a chartered accountant in Hindustan Lever at twenty-five. Sadly, Ewans was right. He drops by at the hostel whenever he passes through Bangalore. He arrives in the company's chauffeur driven Ambi to pick me up. Both Anjam and Ewans were my neighbours, school mates, college mates and partners in crime. Now miles separate us - in all respects.

I miss flying kites, those long sweltering summer holidays, cutting and scraping away at the balsa wood, watching it metamorphose into a lovely glider or speed raft.

My sister's kid has recently cracked his voice, and I wasn't around to tease him. I miss the silly antics in the TV room, where age was no barrier and cartoons were gospel.

All the toddlers are up on their feet and tearing around. Where was I when they weren't as sure footed - and bumped and tripped and fell down crying.

What I am taking away with me is not material. Just a memory, deeply embedded in the heart like a foreign body, a persistent reminder of the best six years of my life. I have grown, matured, drawn many a painful lesson from this time. But I do not know if! would like to come back. Johns will never again be the one I used to love. I have witnessed the insidious change in our campus,in our attitude, in our people. All victims of some slow-virus that has treacherously infiltrated the heart and soul of Johnite existence. Its gradually tightening grip of vice, has choked the laughter and the smiles, the mirth and good spirit, the shine in the eyes, the freedom to think, the freedom to see.

There dies before us the very life and essence of what we proudly call Johnite.

Given a chance, I would have lived my six years again - better.

I could have read a couple more novels, seen more movies on exam eves. I would have chucked a few more chalks at Rupa or Julius just for the fun of it. I would have played all the games and not pretended to study. I would have messed up more rooms and had more water fights. I would have stayed longer at our rec. room discos and danced with the girls. I would have cribbed more about the mess food and whacked more cheese and ice-cream from the fridge.

I would have gone to all the outstation festivals with the Johns teams to cheer them in victory and defeat. I would have sold more raffles and stuck more posters in Brigades.

But this is all wishful thinking. I wonder if I have used my time as well as I should have.

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