Me and My PhD- The need to be remembered

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I sit at my computer, typing away at the keyboard . Beads of perspiration and the baked air speaks for itself about where I am. Yes, I am in Mangalore, the pride of coastal Karnataka , and that too in the dead of summer. I am half way through my twelfth grade .I moved in to my PG housing a year ago and I had the opportunity to get around town and up to speed with everything going on. The “new” academic year 2018-19 began a couple of months ago , two months in advance to be honest. I aspire to become a biotechnologist. I had a thing for science and research from when I was a kid and as I grew up, my mind yearned more and more for more familiarity with the fascinating world of science. Initially I wanted to become a Doctor, an Orthopaedic surgeon for personal reasons, but I went through a series of events and experience that knocked the medical marbles out of me . I am writing this to share a few of my experiences that I found quite noteworthy during this self analysis that I went through , at least for another fellow PhD aspirant.

I have been a student at St. Aloysius for more than a year now and I have specifically chosen Physics, Chemistry, Biology as my core subjects. The fourth subject is Home Science(Don’t judge me).I still giggle heartily when I recall my first day at the institute. I don’t remember much of it, other than the disappointed expressions of an unfortunate little fellow from a North-eastern state of the country, when he realised how anti-social I was .We are still great friends. Let’s call him Kelumberg. Yes. I just made that up to hide his identity, which I will be doing for more people to appear in this article(Though I might have given away his identity already at some point). He must have felt rather awkward trying to start a conversation with me all those months ago. Let me now tell you about two girls I encountered on one of the first few days. Let’s call them Portia and Mauve. They scared the rats out of me as they were trying to get me to open up to them .Of course, they thought of my shy demeanour as a ridiculous attempt to get the “good nerd” title. They might have been right. Mauve had really beautiful eyes though. Then there is this other girl, lets call her Evangeline. At first she seemed to be like one of those people whose bad side you wouldn’t want to be on , but once I had gotten to know her better, she proved to be warm, caring person who in my opinion would be an amazing mother. I still questioned myself why I had thought of her as a grumpy person in the first place. And on that very day, when I had breathed a sigh of relief that things couldn’t get any worse, I was met face to face with my first crush. Lets call her Andrea. My heart knew no joy while at the same time I tortured myself mostly from internal conflict . Alas, when we had just begun establishing a mutual concern for each other’s well being (not romantic), flashes of images of me having failed in my goal to achieve my PhD dreams and turning homeless ,raced through my mind. I decided that I shouldn’t let my mind wander off into LaLa Land , no matter what. My mother and father once had “The Talk” with me exclusively about the instances when some long forgotten relative fell in love and had met his doom due to a failed marriage . Those stories haunt me and never fail to shiver my spine even to this day. Andrea was one in a billion ….literally(pun intended). She was very strong and mature minded and seemed like someone who knew what she really wanted in life. There were times when things weren’t going well for me and she was the one who noticed first. She didn’t rest till she’d made me spill the beans about what was going on, she even sent me to the counsellor once. Believe me, I was quite irritated indeed that she was prodding into my personal life when no one was ever meant to, but now that I look back I’m glad she did. We still talk every day, we are like a pretty gang, Me, Andrea, Evangeline, Mauve , Portia, Kelumberg (Not to mention, his girlfriend Brittany) . Unfortunately I cannot possibly reveal too much about Andrea without giving away her identity. Let’s stick to the notable fact that she was an even crazier science enthusiast. She is still one of my role models and I hope I still have the privilege to be remembered as one of her acquaintances in the future.

I was always an introvert, never a chatty person, however excited . I reserved my time for my cats, my books, my plants and my God( And sometimes Andrea). Yes, I was a very spiritual person. I believe that it somehow gives me peace, just knowing that there’s someone stronger who can protect me. And I am telling you dear reader that even you deserve peace . The kind of peace that I dream of having once I’d lay my hands on my PhD. I was a huge TBBT fan(The Big Bang Theory ) as a kid, I still am. If you are familiar with it then you are probably aware of the jokes cracked at poor Howard’s expense just because he didn’t have a PhD. And that had pushed me to the edge even more, however ridiculous the motivator it seems to be. The more I thought about my academic future, the more anxious I grew. I also fell in love with writing,as I did with reading, which of course was supported by friends and family. Of course, I could never forget the support of my mentors at this very home of learning. Mrs Shiney Clifford and Mrs Deepthi Rani M K. If they are reading this, I will be very honoured indeed.

The days are flying by as I make wonderful memories with the friends I have made. There have been bimonthly tests, two midterms, more class tests , assignments , preparatory exams, loss of sleep, until the day of the final exams, the mother of all exams, is expected to slap me on my cheek with a dirty wet towel. I still imagine myself , having written my exams, just wandering the plane of my existence aimlessly with my fingers crossed, drooling all over the place as I fantasize about how people would address me as “Doctor”. On the fateful day, the day my ultimate progress report would be shown, the day I know that would spell my doom. I see myself being as jumpy as a monkey, quite excited to see how I performed until I receive the report card in all its’ glory which would shock me, mock me and spit at me , telling me to kiss my PhD dreams good bye. I saw myself angry . Angry at everything, disappointed with myself and ready to put the blame on the number of friendly contacts I had established alongside the feelings I had for Andrea . I saw myself standing corrected, proved wrong…about how things cannot always go the way I intend them to. The mental agony that would follow the unspeakable abuse that I would inflict upon my own self would not be any less than Hell. I would be really heart broken indeed, for things would probably start looking down from then onwards and the worst that could happen would be if I ever stooped to the level of ridiculing myself and then trapping myself within the walls of depression.

Despite all these nightmares and insecurities, I still find the time to break away from the flow of this river and do something for myself. Things that help me fall in love with myself , through music, literature, cooking and caring for pets. I’ll be writing my PU board exams soon. The rate at which things are happening overwhelm me. I sulk in silence for I know that the most dreaded moment will arrive again..the moment I say ‘Good bye ‘ to the people who made the two years of my life beautiful, friends, teachers, the plants, the tress, and for the first time in all my existence I wonder and ponder and worry about how uncertain the destination is and how difficult the road is to establish paradise on Earth . Whenever I would mention this to friends or family, they would pay me with their laughs and chuckles. I do still think about it though, the fact that most of humanity will fail to mark their footsteps on the sands of time. I mean, the thought of becoming a PhD holder did sooth my nerves a bit, but it wasn’t enough, for I still feared to imagine a future where my name would be long forgotten, washed away by the waves of mediocrity . I have even begun to accept this as one of my many insecurities….Being forgotten. The sad part is, not a lot of people care about what happens to them after they die, their memories or what legacy they pass on to the next generation.

For anyone out there, who’s reading this, all I want to say is, that things will not always go the way you intended . Sometimes you will ridicule yourself and even attempt to undertake extreme measures to undo what has probably gone wrong. Sometimes , on a lonely road you will feel vulnerable and will fear for your life, however strong you make others believe that you are. Sometimes at home, or God forbid, in the middle of a lecture you might get lost among the hundreds of tantalising thoughts about your future. The above mentioned signs don’t mean that you are dwelling in the never ending sea of uncertainty as well . Every body has weaknesses and strengths.. It does not matter if you are crippled physically or mentally. What counts is the power of thought , the need to make a change and the will to survive all odds.

So that’s my goal, to leave this world with my name etched on a rock, never to be forgotten. Somewhere in a rural village , there’s probably a child who wants to build a better world . He or she might have hospitals and schools in mind, and somewhere under a busy bridge a woman feeds a child while tutoring poor children who would do something great , if provided with adequate resources .Many a decades ago a boy had been selling tea, now he sits on the highest position that one could hold in a nation, and another boy had been studying under a street light and is now remembered as the most influential president and the missile man of India.

Imagine you’re looking down from a tall building at a huge crowd ..what do you see? Nobody right? I say that because what’s before you is an endless blur of faces, swimming from one end to the other, you don’t recognize anyone. Just ask yourself, why don’t you recognize anyone? Why does a single face not ring your bell? What makes you different from them? What are you going to do to stand out from the crowd and embrace your uniqueness?Time is fleeting dear reader, it’s time to do something big, something unforgettable. It’s time to stand among the shepherds, not the sheep. A sheep follows it’s flock, either to green pastures or to the slaughter house. One dies today, the other is killed the next. It is pointless to spend most of your life fearing that fateful moment. Time tarries for none……Make the best of it.

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