| This is the 17th story of Our Life Logs |
I was born to a Muslim family in Lahore, Pakistan. One might think that may have become an obstacle for me; luckily, that has not, or not yet. Coming from a community where majority of the people are Muslims, I have never faced any discrimination or struggle with my region. Yet, that’s not the entirety of my life.
Currently 24 years old, I am studying in my second year at an army medical school in Pakistan. Life has never been easy. It is probably hard for everyone; after all, we all fight different battles in different ways. My journey of getting into the medical school was an extremely hard one.
I belong to a broken family. My parents never got along; they were always fighting, for as long as I could remember. Looking back, I see nothing but a childhood full of sadness and distress. There were barely any happy memories to recall. I was accustomed to being around quarrels, fights, and an unpleasant ambiance constantly filled with depression. My parents, though they must have loved us as their children, never had time for me or my younger brother because they were busy figuring out their own mess. Such a perfect mismatch they were for each other.
The most difficult part was that I had to hide my pains from the world, because I did not want anybody to pity me. I was sad, but I had my pride. I used to think of myself as inferior to all the other students at school. My friends all had perfect happy families, and I had absolutely nothing at home to feel warm about. When they were talking about how they spent their family vacations or how they celebrated the festivals with their parents, I couldn’t offer anything but silence. I would then hide myself in the washroom and cry.
For that, my childhood was spent in misery, and I grew up way too early for my age.
When I was seven years old, I learnt for the first time that becoming a doctor would be the only good option for me. Seeing how successful and prestigious a medical profession could be, I started to fantasize everything about it. I dreamed of becoming a doctor, with healing hands to cure the diseases and perhaps the pains inside myself as well.
Of course, as a child I was not given a chance to go according to my own desires, worsened by the fact that my parents were living in their own misery fighting their relationship battle and paid no much attention to my dream. Growing up I was always imposed with decisions to abide by, because I come from a place where girls are bound to obey their parents. Our society is against women empowerment and independence, although our religion is fully against these man-made rules. What an irony. But I didn’t let my dream go. I was determined to become a doctor.
My parents finally decided to file for a divorce when I turned 18. By that time, I had just finished high school and was all set to take my medical school entrance exam.
Their divorce left me shattered. All of this was expected, but when the expectation finally became a reality, it was still too harsh. I couldn’t imagine how our life could continue with my parents living separately. The most painful moment was when we were asked to choose which parent to live with. I was 18 and my brother was 14, and we each had to take a side. One of us had to go and live in a different house with our dad, and the other one would stay in the same house with our mom. My brother was always very close to our mom, so I decided to go with our dad. It was such a heartbreaking decision.
Living apart from my mom and my brother, whom I dearly love, was not an easy transition, but I had to make peace with it. I knew I had no other choice. Gradually, I pulled myself together, and prepared for the entrance exam to get into medical school. The burning desire, the hope, the fantasy of chasing my dream, made me revive. I wanted to restore my life. I was eagerly looking forward to it. And I felt ready.
I took the exam when I was 19 years old, but failed. That was the biggest setback I had ever faced in life. I was totally defeated. It felt like that my life was over and I would spend the rest of my time in this world with nothing but more despair and misery. I was clueless for months, not knowing what to do. My dad suggested that I sign up for another program, and so I did. I got admitted into another university to study psychology, and started my college life.
It was indeed a decent school, but I was not happy, because that was not what I wanted. I would stay alone on campus, refuse to make new friends and cry myself into sleep at night.
I had a different dream and I was not ready to give it up yet, so I talked to my dad about quitting school and appearing for the medical exam again. To my surprise, he did not disagree.
I had two months to prepare, and I tried all my best. I knew that failure was bitter, and I didn’t want to taste it again. I took the exam for the second time, but unfortunately, my stars had not changed. This time I was numb, frozen. My whole world fell apart and I was there, just watching everything falling.
After a few weeks, my dad came to me and told me about another science program which was related to medical imaging. With no other options at hand, I thought of giving it a try. I joined the college. The school was not bad, but I could not fit in. No matter how hard I tried, there was always something that felt missing. A major portion of it.
I gave up after six months and talked to my dad about it again. This time he got furious. I was not surprised. Considering that he was generally a strict man and yet had already allowed me to take the exam twice and paid twice for my college, I understood he had done enough for me.
Yet on the other side, I knew it was not in my power, or will, to settle with something I did not dream of doing. All of that killed my passion for life and caused me excruciating pain. I was convinced by myself that it was impossible for me to get into medical school here in Pakistan, so I brought up to my dad the idea of going to study in China. I did my research and found out the medical schools there were very good and not very expensive either. There was some hesitation, but he agreed in the end, though not without worries about me going to another country.
Through an agent, I applied to several medical schools in China, and got accepted by almost all of them. To study in China, I needed to learn Chinese first. There were hardly any language classes in Pakistan that taught Chinese. Luckily, my dad was able to arrange a person who had a good command over the language to teach me. This all sounded complicated, but I was happy that I was finally going to make my dream come true. It was such an excitement that the fact I had to learn the most difficult language in the world didn’t even concern me at all.
Everything was going on as planned, until one day, out of nowhere, my dad broke the heart-wrenching news to me. He had changed his mind! He said he would be worried for me all the time if I went to China and that would affect his work and other matters in life. It was pure devastation: I wanted to take a knife and stab myself in the chest at that very moment. But he was adamant. I couldn’t argue.
As an alternative, he suggested I take the medical exam again in Pakistan, which was going to be held in six months. I took his suggestion and started preparing for it. The test day finally arrived. I had jitters running down my spine. My heart beat was irregular, as if I were going to have a stroke. This time it was either a YES or a NO forever.
I took the exam and waited for the result, which was to be announced seven days later. Those were seven long days. I did not tell my dad when the result was to be expected. I wanted to check it in silence. I could not sleep properly for a minute and on the seventh day, I woke up sick to my stomach. I turned on my laptop and opened the result website. There it was! My name was right there in the list and I could not believe my eyes. I started crying out of happiness and rushed to my dad and broke the news to him. That was the first time I felt the warmth of his hug. I could give up on my life to bring that feeling back.
Here I am, surviving my second year at the medical school, on my way to be a doctor to fulfill my dream I have had since seven. The journey to be here was arduous. It is still hard. Every day is a struggle and every once in a while there is a new challenge. But isn’t that life? Life is not about giving up; it is about fighting till you win.
They say life is not a bed of roses. I think it can be, but you do have to deal with all the thorns.
This is the story of Ayesha Arain
Strong and driven, Ayesha is a Pakistani girl born into a Muslim family. Her dream is to become a doctor. After trying for four times, she finally made her way into the medical school. She is expecting to graduate in 2020 and is planning to work as a general physician in the USA after clearing her USMLE exam. In her spare time, Ayesha likes to read and write. Reading and writing, in addition to her friends, has helped pull her through the dark days of life.
This story first touched our hearts on January 6, 2018.
| Writer: Noor Pasha | Editor: MJ |