Appa… I know you’re here.

I was told that you left,
But I know you’re still here,
In every breath and every movement,
Hiding in tears and blissful laughter,
While awake in the morning dawn,
Even in the dreams of the silent night,
Keeping close and staying near, 
And it was then I knew at once,
What others see with their eyes 
I have always seen with my heart……
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Aside

It’s a domino effect. It breeds and multiplies. It ravages the nation of its moral and intellectual resources. The division that requires the unity of a kind.

Malaysian politics are fast becoming more race based and divisive in nature. Policies of inclusiveness and social uplifting are lost or unspoken. I have been jerked by my conscience to break my vow of silence.

A flawed education system is a silent scourge that devours our young. Instead of focusing on character building and unity we have divided our mainstream schools to multi lingual facets. Certain neighboring countries realized the detrimental effect of this system and instead focused on preserving the language and heritage of the races in a single stream education system. This system encourages each race to learn their language and cultural heritage but binds them in the same schooling system.

Meritocracy is a double edged sword. It can only work if individuals are playing on a level field. The son of an oil tycoon in our rich capital and the child of an indigenous tribe in the interiors of Sarawak cannot be rewarded by singular assessment. We should consider the socioeconomic status and the performance of the individual regardless of their race, color or creed before rewarding them.

The drain of our intellectual wealth is well known. Our bright students have all ventured out of our country preferring the pastures of developed countries instead of coming back to serve ours. We are to be blamed as we have denied them of an environment free of racial tension to name but a few. Many have been robbed of a chance to set things right. Quite a few have already given up on their nation.

Poverty practices universal blindness. It does not recognize race or religion. Policies should not focus on eradication of poverty in a single group of race or color. We should focus on the community as a whole.

Corruption drains the nation of its resources. It is wise to remember that we are a very rich country. There is more than enough for all of us. The unequal distribution of our wealth with the scourge of corruption is bringing our nation to its knees. Adding racial division and disharmony will only drive the knife in further.

The multitude of traditions, customs and religions should not impede unity. On the contrary, it should embrace and include all. The very essence of its existence should be to preach and convey tolerance. Dirty and divisive politics should never be allowed to mix with the sanctity of any religion.

Managed wisely, this country has enough resources and wealth to last many generations. But our moral resources and conscience are fast depleting. The signs are clear. If we travel this path we will soon reach the end of the cliff.

It has never been about the election. Its always been about us, the children of this beautiful and blessed nation. Let us unite regardless of the outcome of this coming election. Let us radiate tolerance and raise our children to embrace differences instead of fearing for their rights. Let us free this country of the persecution of corruption. Let us speak up against racial and religious prejudice and stereotypes.

Our dream of living in a tolerant and prosperous Malaysia will indeed become a reality.

Listen when I speak: The Malaysian paradigm

I have leaped into a bandwagon. “Bavani” is perhaps the most searched word in Malaysian Google. “Sharifah” not so far behind and for contrasting reasons. A single event which was purposed as a harmless university students “brainwashing” session became a Facebook and YouTube phenomenon. Watch out Gangnam Style!

I have always distanced myself from politics. I believe I still have not met a politician in this country who truly deserves my vote. Our politics and policies are becoming more race based and divisive in nature. True politics should speak on policies and encourage intelligent criticism. This was exactly what Bavani did.

I believe Malaysians are inherently intelligent and discerning. We know the truth and can see through veils of deception. The so called forum in UUM was only a propaganda right from the start from desperate individuals sending out like minded minions to bend the will and opinion of the “young” to their flawed character and policies. If it was indeed regarding the welfare of women and children, I would like to know the number of toddlers, infants and foetuses affected by the BERSIH rally!

Freedom of speech should be tempered with honesty and respect. That is an undeniable fact. Respect on the other hand is earned and it’s not a birthright as some assume. It’s definitely not earned by eloquently albeit inappropriately describing animal cruelty in the world. And certainly not by taking away the voice of another by forcibly removing their microphone while they speak. If this single act of democracy is withheld from a person, then we are indeed like animals who can’t voice out their opinion.

Honest criticism is a powerful tool and motivation. It helps us to grow out of our shells. We can adopt a different view and adapt accordingly if needed. People who are comfortable in their own skin will welcome criticism. It is those at the opposite end of a moral spectrum who will fear criticism as it will reveal the true nature of their intents and weaknesses.

True education starts when we respect each other for our differences and accept our flaws for improvement. This is the foundation of humanity and a civilised society. It involves expanding young minds to go beyond boundaries set to create new ideas, progressive thinking and pragmatic approaches in life. It does not involve us telling them what to do. We are only the guide not the conscience. This is lacking in our country.

Corruption is not a material disease. It’s a plague that affects the mind as well. Corruption of the mind with the complex of superiority was the very reason Bavani could not continue talking. It’s the very reason she was left flabbergasted as certain educated individuals chastised her for her line of questioning. It is the very reason she was robbed of her voice and humiliated in public. Fortunately, Bavani stood tall and walked with grace unparalleled for someone her age and education. Perhaps a dose of humility should do the trick for our so called animal rights advocate.

I urge Malaysians who read this to speak up. Speak up for this is our country and we should not tolerate this disease further. Speak up for this land of plenty robbed of its material and intellectual riches. Speak up for the silent majority who suffer persecution when their only crime is honesty. Speak up for the future of our children. Speak up for what you have known is right all along.

A final plea to Miss Bavani, please continue to speak up. To the one I shall not name… for once in your life…PLEASE LISTEN..

So I heard that you wanted to become a doctor…

Most of us live in an ideal world. This world exists only in our minds. If there is a distortion and when reality sets in the truth is pretty hard to swallow for most.
We hear of many talented and brilliant youngsters with strings of achievements wanting to become doctors. Their proud parents no doubt played a major role. This article was written bearing them in mind.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a physician working in one of our general hospitals. Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah, Alor Setar to be exact. I have been in service for more than 5 years now and in this short span of time I have been forced to swallow and digest many truths about my career. Along with that a great many myths have been dispelled as well. I will tell you all about it.
I was a high achiever in school but I never wanted to become a doctor. There, I have said it. My friends who knew me from high school would tell you just that. I wanted to be a lawyer specializing in criminal and constitutional law. I was that focused from young. Medicine never crossed my mind. If at all I had a second choice it would have been journalism but certainly not medicine. It was due to some unexpected turn of events which placed me in medical school. My father played a major role in this. He has always known me better than I have known myself.
Lets start with life in medical school. The first two years is all about hard work. Make no mistakes. You will not have as many assignments as others but that will be more than made up with the number of exams you will have to sit. Each exam will leave a wrinkle on your face and if you have a part time modelling career planned I dont think acne is the current fashion trend. Depending on the medical schools some will have an exam almost every 4 to 8 weeks. It may just be a simple exam to most but it carries cumulative marks for your finals. Your study materials may weigh more than you at times. And all this to be completed within eight weeks. Sadly, this is just the beginning.
The final three are known as the clinical years. If you are from a respectable instituition you will be expected to examine and learn from patients during bedside teachings. To the uninitiated I will tell you how it goes. You will be brought to a patient during rounds in the morning. Your clinical professor will then proceed to show you and maybe a dozen others how to elicit a clinical sign. Your colleagues will then hover over the patient with some craning their necks to get a better look. With luck it may make sense to you but if it doesn’t, all of you will still nod your heads in unison in fear of being labelled slow, lazy or stupid!  Some of these signs you may never encounter during your daily ward rounds but will miraculously appear during exams without fail!
Your clinical exams are another issue altogether. Two hawk eyed examiners will watch your every move as you attempt to demonstrate the myriads of clinical signs that they presumably taught you during your bedside teachings. Guantanamo Bay may need these individuals. Without uttering a word they can make your heart race and your mind go blank in an instant. Some perspire so much during these exams that when they come out of the exam hall you would think that they visited a waterfall! Failures are common especially if you do not live up to their expectations. Mass production of doctors by our medical schools is a myth. You have no idea how many have been culled and are running around like headless chickens now!
If you are lucky (or unlucky!) enough to graduate there is more in store. After the fuss of graduation (where you will be forced to don dignified clothes the size of Brazil and take numerous flash photos that can sometimes be detrimental to your retina!), you will then proceed to housemanship training. If you thought medical school was bad enough you aint seen nothing yet!
You must have read about house officers. Their plight is often highlighted in the media and are garnering more attention than the presidential race in the United States. House officers training lasts for 2 years. You will rotate among the major departments in the hospital. During this four monthly rotation you will be expected to learn and manage patients with supervision from a senior doctor. Depending on the senior doctor or your own performance life may never be the same again. Your mistakes will be scrutinized and picked upon. You may think of it as a humiliation especially if its done in front of patients but this is the norm. Mistakes in an office might cost someone a fat contract but mistakes in the ward might cost a patient’s life. You will realize there arent that many broom closets in the hospital for you to hide and shed tears when this happens. It may remind you of the many ‘Scrubs’ episodes (where the senior doctors practically devour you for breakfast, lunch and dinner and leave some for supper that night) and its not as glamorous as ‘Grays Anatomy’.  Sleep deprivation is no longer an issue at this point because due to the current change in the training system you will only be expected to work 60 hours a week.
The lesser hours may not be a boon for many. If you do not make full use of your training during this limited time further horrifying events might follow.
I will paint you a scenario. After housemanship training you might be sent to a district hospital with the nearest general hospital a ferry ride away. You will then be expected to work 36 hours straight without sleep, single handedly manning a casualty department of a district hospital. A patient might come in the wee hours of the morning and worse still if its an ill child with a reversible illness. You will then be expected to perform a procedure you have only seen once during your entire housemanship training. Your seniors are conveniently not contactable. How are you going to perform? Its a life saving procedure and you have only seen it once. If you are lucky or talented enough you may get it in your first attempt. But what if you are not that lucky? What if the child dies because you could not do it? Can you look the mother in the eye? Sleep deprivation might become the natural order after that. And thats the bitter truth.
Upon completion of housemanship you might want to further your studies in a preferred speciality. Studying medicine was already bad enough but working at the same time is plain torture. Taking care of young toddlers during this period is not an added advantage. If your training requires being away from your family and rotating among the different hospitals in our country it requires divine-like patience and perseverance. Some exams requires you to fork up exorbitant amount of money for each sitting. Since failure rates are high and the exam fee might cost more than your monthly pay, you might end up being slightly better off than a waiter in the end.
After becoming a senior doctor or a specialist you will then be given many responsibilities. One of which may include training of young doctors. If you are as lucky as I am (most of the time) you will be given the chance to work with bright and enthusiastic house officers. Some unfortunately are not that lucky and may end up in private practice or take up another career path altogether.
Why take up medicine if all that I have painted sounds like entering ‘hell’ and consorting with the demons?
Medicine is a vocation. Its a divine calling. Its a selfish act of being selfless. Its a priviledge bestowed upon a select few to serve mankind and to alleviate their pain and suffering. Gratitude in the eyes of patients and relatives once healed of their disease and ailment is priceless. Your teachers will become your pillars in life. They will pass on to you the time honored traditions of being a doctor which in turn you will pass to the next generation. Thats how it has always been. If you have done your work sincerely and passionately they will proudly accept you as one of their own. Unless you are a soldier fighting side by side in war, the friends you make during this period will become your lifeline. Some of them have done so much for me while expecting so little that I would gladly take a bullet in their place.
You may not have enough time with your family as others might have but you would have returned someone back to their family. You would not have enough sleep at times but when you do, you will sleep with a sound conscience. You may not make as much as your friends in other ventures but your patient’s will consider your very presence invaluable.
Finally, you may ask me this. Do I have any regrets in being a doctor? I do and there is only one. Its that I never realized this earlier. When I wake up every morning I cant think of myself doing anything else but this. I would not change a single thing about my life because it has brought me exactly where I want to be. Its a pleasure to learn, treat, teach and in turn be treated. I count myself blessed to feel this way. The journey so far has been worth the while. And I can still keep on going.

This is harder than E=mc2

    This post is dedicated to Netto and Teshini. Reading some of your posts daily on my wall made me write this. I hope it helps the two of you during this period because it has certainly helped me believe. You have found what most of us are still seeking. Cheers…

 

We set boundaries in life. But love pervades all boundaries. Its simple without being simplistic. It always starts the same way. An unexpected beckoning of the heart.

Falling in love is euphoric I suppose. I would not know. I have never fallen in or out of it. Yet. But will staying in love dull your senses after ‘prolonged exposure’?

I suppose true love defines eternity. I have seen it in others. I have seen its true form. It gives them eyes to see past any imperfections and to cherish every breath. Its replenishes the soul and makes every dream worth leaving. It helps the heart forgive and the mind to forget without being forgetful. It overcomes all hurdles and leaps any faith. They remain devoted without bitterness, manipulation and undesired ego. It makes us embrace the one thing that makes us complete. Humanity.

True lovers never part. They liberate others with hope. Hope that love exists and that it makes perfect sense. It allows others to love and they in turn liberate others.

I will continue to believe then. After all its never audacious to be hopeful….

The first pitfall of a first impression

This is new. I have decided to talk about something even if I can’t make sense of anything.

It happened today during work. I was held up by some unfortunate turn of events before I could actually get to do my rounds and my ever reliable house officers told me about a certain ill patient. This is where the fun starts.

The so called patient ( Mr X is so cliche so lets call him Hercules although he looks nothing like a Greek demigod!), came in with severe chest infection. He was in septicemic shock (to the non medical’s reading this it means the infection has pretty much booked him a place in the afterlife) and with Type 1 respiratory failure (which means one foot is already there).

He was unkempt, thin and haggard and looked very ill and worst of all…. he was all alone. I found out that he was brought from a nursing home where he was left in their care about a week ago. His clinical condition along with all the tests we have run so far did not look good. He was 70 and in my eyes was suffering. It would have been easy to let go and tell yourself that ‘going all out’ is only going to add on to his suffering. Something told me to give this poor bugger a chance. I am glad I did.

At that time I  can only think of the worst possible curses for Hercules’s children ( I found out that he had a bunch and none of them were there). One of them involved a pickaxe and his child’s head. Go figure…

To the non medicals reading this I would like to explain a few things as I am so used to comments from my ‘muggle’ friends that when we ‘doctors’ get into the groove we forget the existence of others. It is customary to not pursue active resuscitation in certain patients, among others involving the bedridden (as i heard was Hercules’s state since he was in nursing care), those with poor social support and patients with advanced or irreversible illness. Having said that being old is not a prerequisite to die! I have seen people more than twice my age living a healthier and fuller life than I have ever had (I BLAME THE MEDICAL PROFFESION!)

I wont go into the details of how we stabilized and brought him back from the near clutches of death. Needless to say that as his condition improved within the hour I felt a sense of dread. Have I done the right thing? Am I just prolonging his suffering? Does he deserve this? Where is he going to go now if he gets better? Its more expensive to care for an ill patient in a nursing home than caring for just a senile old man. What about the children? Where the hell are they?

As these distorted thoughts were entering my mind, a young lady approached Mr. Hercules. She held his hand and stroked it with tenderness that can only be born out of love. He eyes shone with tears as she called out to him. Hercules started to look and behave like Hercules! His condition improved by the afternoon and as I am writing this post we are weaning off the medications that supports his blood pressure. Before noon all his children were there and were very keen to know about his condition and progress albeit nothing I told them was particularly a ray of sunshine!

I found out from them that they all chipped in and sent Hercules to the nursing care so that he can be better taken care of. They also take turns to care for their sick mother who until recently requires all their care and attention. They did not want the father to feel neglected at home so they thought he would enjoy the company of people his own age for a while till their mother recuperates. They have not seen him this past week and are blaming themselves for their father’s health.

At this point I felt the pickaxe was better suited for my head.

Fast forward, I realised the essence of my ‘ near fatal mistake’. Had I left it to first impression and denied my gut instinct this would have been a different post. It would have been ‘oh i had a crappy day’ or ‘why does this always happen to me’ (similiar to certain ‘personalities’ updating even their bowel movements on facebook!)

The first pitfall of a first impression is the impression itself. I learnt that today and luckily not the hard way. Dont be generous with your judgement. As corny as it sounds…follow your heart. Gosh…I believe this is making sense after all!

Hercules…you made my day. It is an honour to have met you.Cheers…

Happy birthday Appa…

This is an old post. I wanted it to be the first post on this blog. I have taken it from my previos blog which has since been discontinued…

 
       My dad is my life. He literally sustains me as if he is part of my soul. He is there when i slip and carries me when I fall and refuse to get up. I am ordinary but he is out of this world.    He has been the source of my inspiration. The light when all seems dark and lost. He taught us to dream and to believe that everything in life is possible if you work hard. “Trust in …God and He will be your guide”, he used to say. 
 
       He sacrificed so much so that I can have the best and be the best. I remember the look of joy in his eyes when i was happy. He is a simple man. When i am happy, he is overjoyed.    He is a man of uncommon strength. A man of strong principles. Unyielding and true. he made us believe that life without principles and conscience is a waste. Like walking on thin ice. When it breaks you go down crashing.   
 
      Appa, you have sacrificed so much for me. You have listened to all my whinings and continue to do so. You have made this common boy so special. You believed in me when no one else did. You saw me as a gift. You did not compare. You did not regret. All you did was drown me with your love and care. I was all that mattered to you.   
        
      Today is a special day, appa. The day where I learn to appreciate the greatest blessing in my life. You. And its the day I tell you how much you mean to me. Wherever i am you are always on my mind. You are within me. Thoughts of you keeps me strong. Your prayers keep me going. Your love keeps me alive.
     
      I know that you are proud of me. I swear that I will never let you down. What I was yesterday is devoted to you. What i am today is because of you. What i will become tomorrow is a reflection of you. We made it, Appa. We made it together. Happy birthday appa…and this is my gift. I love you so much.