who we are

every conversation i have with my father either begins or ends with our voices being several decibels above the comfortable range of hearing. it’s the reason we try to only have mostly benign exchanges: “how are you doing, dad?” *grunt* “oh okay. i’m going out now. back by dinner.”

today, i came down the stairs in time to catch the end of a phone call he had with a friend. his friend’s child is a doctor who allegedly got accepted into a masters program just 2 years after starting work and is now at a prominent hospital located 10 minutes from my house.

when my father hung up, we proceeded to engage in one of those conversations that i usually make my life’s mission to avoid. he spoke like he knew how the crappy specialising system works, that it is as easy as applying for a masters program during housemanship and getting accepted just like that.

i thought about my medical officers who are good at their work but have yet to enroll into a training program. i thought about the advice from my seniors, the experience shared by my bosses. i thought about all that as i shouted in response to my father’s reluctance to even give me a minute to explain the shitty things i will have to go through in order to hopefully become a surgeon.

it is difficult being the only doctor in the house. sure, my uncle is a surgeon in a neighbouring country, but i doubt he talked to his family about his line of work, probably for the same reasons i don’t talk about it to mine; they won’t understand. more so in a family that doesn’t listen…a family like mine.

of course, i am partly to blame. for as long as i can remember, i’ve had trouble sharing my life with my parents. i had diaries in school and have maintained a (heavily-edited) blog for the last 7 years, but most of my thoughts are kept under lock and key in my mind. i never told them about my 5-year plan, although i did tell them several times that i want to start taking my professional exams this year – a fact that has probably never registered in my father’s head.

we called a truce as my father had to drive me to the train station and the last thing i wanted was for his temper to linger in the car. we sat there in silence for a  couple of minutes and when i felt the atmosphere lighten up a bit, i told him about my plans.

it wasn’t for his approval; it was just to let him know that he can relax – i’ve thought about my future and i’m doing my best to get to where i wanna be.

i can only hope my parents accept that they will never be able to fully comprehend the world i work in. i also hope i remember that they may sometimes feel helpless at how little they understand about what i do. all my father wants is to know what the hell is going on in my life. he may not convey it in the most eloquent manner, but he loves me and just wants to be kept in the loop.

it’s hard to keep that in mind when our interactions consist mainly of bland pleasantries, but that’s who we are and that’s what will have to do.

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