“congratulations, you’re now an MO,” she smiled as she handed me the letter which said someone of authority was pleased to inform me that my transfer request has been approved. it felt like a dream that was neither nightmare nor [insert antonym for nightmare, i couldn’t find a satisfactory one on the web], and i almost burst into tears when i got into the car. in addition to accepting the letter of transfer, i had agreed to a lifetime of government service. it’s a decision i’m sure i will regret when i turn 40 and be thankful for when i’m 60 and diabetic (i have no doubt i will be), but it was only when the doors were closed and my keys were in the ignition that i realised i didn’t know what the hell i was doing.
half an hour prior to the events above, i reached for the bottle of johnnie walker that had served faithfully as a bookend on my study table for the past year. there was one last shot of whisky in it, which i saved for either a special occasion or an emergency, though exactly what emergency would call for a small amount of hard liquor isn’t very clear to me now. my friends joked about me being a closet alcoholic because i used bottles as decor, but really it was just because i thought they were pretty.
anyway, i had taken the first train to ipoh today and packed up most of my room in about an hour. when i was done, i surveyed the space around me. just 3 weeks ago i moved out of the house i called home for 2 years and made myself comfortable in a room that felt too big for one. i didn’t think i’d have to strip it down again so soon. it felt like a joke that tread dangerously on the line between ironic and cruel.
so i opened the bottle of johnnie walker and looked at myself in the mirror. 2 years and it has come to this. 2 years was too long and too short at the same time. i look much older than the girl in the photograph on my hospital id. i’m coming out from under the cover of housemanship and becoming a real doctor. my heart rate quickened and my stomach churned as a tipped the bottle over my lips.
the last shot tasted exactly as i expected – a burning jolt of reality down my throat.
the rest of the day was one long, exhausting errand. i did eventually break down as i drove home, partly from the strain of yet another move but mostly because i was overwhelmed by gratitude towards God and the mysterious ways He has worked in my life over the last 2 years. during the journey i mourned the sudden manner in which ipoh has been torn from me, how quickly i had to leave. i sang songs of praise to the One who has sustained me throughout housemanship.
i’m still tired now as i type this. i don’t dwell on shouldas and couldas because it’s a waste of time. my run as a houseman has ended and i have to get back to work, back to life. i must remember the burning reality that i am in.