Before starting clinical years, I often found myself caught between the age-old dilemma of eventually having to choose between clinicals and the academia. Fast forward to the fourth year of medical school – the real doctor roles – and I realised with a tinge of surprise and joy that I actually do enjoy the patient interaction. The miraculous way in which my narrative intertwines with that of a stranger’s and how much I learn about life, about myself, about all things mystical, and of course, about the very vastness of medicine itself, is a bit more than magic itself, no?
A recent encounter with an adorable young mother taught me the importance of empathy and compassion like none other.
A young woman awaiting her second C-section, *Saba was a vivid picture of anxiety. Her lips were constantly moving with the recitation of all the holy verses that she knew. So I failed to get her out of my mind as I stood in the OT observing the removal of an ovarian cyst. Couldn’t help myself and I went up to her. We talked. She told me about her elder son and we became friends in that magical moment of one Eve feeling the emotions of another. I remember how her hands slowly warmed up as the C-section started. I wasn’t the doctor here, no, not at all! I was a student standing by her side, whispering to her verses of calm and peace, and watching the joy and relief spread over her milky face as I told her that the baby was out and aye, its a girl! Her big eyes twinkled with pure, unconditional love as I showed her a picture of her baby! And in that hour – where I held no scalpel – I was overwhelmed by what this mother and her daughter did for me. It wasn’t the first time that I saw a baby arrive into our rather cold world, but it was the first time I felt myself playing a small, small part in a stranger’s narrative. What did I gain out of it, you say? I saw my frustrations melt away into a gentle reminder of how beautiful, how painfully short life is to spend it brooding over that which is not in my hands. I saw my worries sail away as the gentle breeze of peace and hope hit my heart. I heard the turbulence of my soul settle down into something so deep and tranquil, that I was proud – more than ever – of being the reflection of Eve that I am today. I felt my strength multiply into infinity as I realised what blessings empathy, compassion, and gentleness are. And all of that propelled me to let go of my fears and embrace the fragility, the vulnerability, the truth that life, and destiny, and qadr has to offer.
So when you’re looking at the light blue sky above you, drowning in the depth of the million eternities around you, do you ever wonder why and how your chronology is what it is?
*Name has been changed for reasons of privacy.