More than a decade after qualifying as a Doctor and having bounced around various jobs in India and the UK, I am now practising in a College in Melaka, Malaysia, charged with sharing my knowledge with budding Doctors and Dentists. Hence, most of the time I spend my days shuttling between classes and clinics dreaming of my own student days and how similar, yet how different they were from what I see now. And when I’m not doing that, I sit at home and marvel at where I am in life, literally and otherwise.
I moved to Malaysia four years ago and it’s been a good ride. I’m on the other side of the fence, watching students become doctors, some living their dreams and some fulfiling their parent’s aspirations. I see some huge talent here-people I know will become great doctors, not because of the knowledge they have, but because of how they carry themselves. How they communicate, how they are willing to learn.
And that, really, is what the art of medicine is all about-the empathy, the art of listening to a patient, really listening. Without the art, the science of medicine is a lonely figure. I hope my students will understand that, if not now, then perhaps at some point in the future. It took me a while but of course, I’m still learning too.
I don’t harbour illusions that they will remember all that I have taught by the time they graduate, but in every Convocation I come away hoping that perhaps, somehow, in some small insignificant way, I was able to make a difference.
I’m fortunate to have my family here with me-my wife who’s been a rock and my four year old daughter, who define our lives. I feel very lucky-I’ve been through more downs than ups before I arrived here and my family has always been right there. I’ve made mistakes, but all have been my own. I’ve let people down but I’ve (hopefully) made up. At long last, I feel settled.
I’m at peace here, in Melaka, this little UNESCO World Heritage City in the heart of Malaysia. The Lonely Planet calls it the “Soul of Malaysia” and who am I to argue? I find peace at home, with my daughter playing catch in the bedroom while my wife waits for something to break, I find happiness in the silence of a walk by the quiet Melaka riverside, with the gentle splashing of the water briefly broken by the wake of passing boats and I can sit for hours by the seaside watching families flying kites and couples holding hands, with the wind in my hair and the sand under my feet.
I enjoy the calm that descends when I write and I’m grateful my current job allows me the luxury of having the time to pursue it (not that I’ve written anything much and of any significance). I like the odd badminton game, often with students who harbour no qualms at beating me effortlessly but who always ensure I don’t leave the court thoroughly embarrassed. I love the occasional banter with the students, sometimes in person and sometimes on “Evil Facebook”. ( I am a Facebook addict).
I love the smell of the rain coming in from the sea and the rush of the wind on the empty roads and I love the sight of the vast green palm plantations and the ribbon of smooth tarmac snaking through them.
I love the fact that people know how to drive.
I love the smile on my daughter’s face as I pick her up from school and I stand at the door and watch as she runs and hugs her mother, with a big “Mama!” and the look on her face when I create a story with her as the hero.
I look forward to the few quiet moments we get when she finally, but usually reluctantly, goes to sleep and I wait for the sounds of “Papa!” when she yawns and gets ready to start a brand new day.
Oh there is so much to be grateful for. The peace I have found here is second to none. I am in love with this wonderful city and its wonderful residents. I hope to stay for many more years to come.
Thank You Melaka.
About the Author: Nishikanta Verma: I am an Indian doctor currently residing in Malaysia. I am passionate about all things related to Cambodia and also have current interests in World History, Buddhism and Quantum Physics. I am married with one daughter and another on the way. Twitter: @jipmerdays.