|Standing tall, the tankey|
I remembered the day when, in August 1998, when returning from Khanas Pur Ayubiya trip, we stopped at the then used-to-be bus stop near Moti Mahel cinema. Someone pointed to a water tankey barely visible in heavily pouring rain and said, “Can you see that? That is the campus of RMC”. Although I was in F.Sc. Pre Medical then and was a potential candidate of being a future doctor, I had hardly heard of a medical college in Rawalpindi other than AIMC. And a year later when I got the news of my admission there, the only image of the institution that flashed before my eyes was a tankey lost in the rain. When I finally walked into Rawalpindi Medical College, first time in my life, I came to know that I had seen the most prominent part of the building already, the tankey. I was carrying the loads of happiness of qualifying for admission, and bundles of countryside livelihood habits and styles. I can’t recall what I was putting on that day, but I am sure my dress and my attitude must have highlighted where I had come from. For next few months or perhaps years, I struggled to shed those clothes and complexes and tried to be used to the more urban life style of the twin cities, unsuccessfully though (to be very frank :). And that is exactly what I owe to this institution, that the day I walked out of that building as a medical graduate, I was the none other than the same countryside man with bundles of joy and preserved rather hardened habits and mannerisms of Sargodha, the difference being that I was no more afraid of being myself. I was and am a proud son of a peasant who grew up in orange orchards in the outskirts of Sargodha, drinking buffalo milk and eating saag and parathas.....
Ours (1999-2004) was a time of transition in many ways. Right before the session started, the military overthrew the elected government. The demise of Nawaz Sharif coincided with the retirement of Prof Nawaz of RMC. His long rule ended quite in the beginning of our studies and there was a massive change in administration as well as its attitude. Who can forget the odd disciplinary penalties handed down to many; the forced migrations and suspensions. The college, however, embraced a new era of change, with cultural, sports and literary activities which can now be called as strong literary and sports traditions of the institution. Even the building got some new features.
|A well lit Rawalian's reunion ;)|
The mobile and Internet revolution also happened in parallel to our session. Its amazing that in first year “mobile guy” was a title whereas in last year, mobile was as common as anything. The Internet experience was special in terms of internet cafes in Commercial Market, the mIRC chats that used to happen are a feast to remember. So if I compare January 2000 with March 2005, I can appreciate a sea of changes at personal, educational, national, regional and international level. The only thing that happened late was facebook. Can you imagine how would it feel to have facebook at that time, with profile pictures, likes and dislikes as well as relationship statuses of everyone known publicly, we could have saved hell of a time for our professional studies.
Out of all those activities started at that time, I feel proud to remember the massive contribution of our class, which came up as a proof of extraordinary talent in various co-curricular activities. The evergreen variety show, the movies of 007, the spiritual musical nights, the sports opening and closing ceremonies, the fun fair, the all Pakistan debates, mushaera and revival of SHIFA magazine are only few of the jewels in RMC’s crown, added and ameliorated by none other than 27th batch of Rawalians. The other major transition was the establishment of University of Health Sciences. Although there has been a revolution in the field of medical education ever since its establishment, the politics played at the very beginning was quite unhealthy. The current students are enjoying the fruits of its policies yet we had been dragged in lot of dirty stuff, like our strikes and stay orders in Supreme Court against our forced registration etc.
|A banner of a mushaira nazm-o-ghazal|
Widespread in the city like pieces of puzzle, RMC was in no way an easy place to be in. I must say that the bus ride on a daily basis was a tough ask, especially boarders who used to play cards till late at night and then had to catch the bus at 7:35 a.m. Guess what made catching the bus the most important task, the fair charged by taxi-drivers from National Market hostel to Tipu Road campus. Same was the quality of housing in National Market hostel. The building was surrounded by the motor mechanic workshops and to add insult to the injury, it was situated exactly under the wrath of the taking off and landing airplanes. How can boarders forget the midnight flight that used to shake window pans like hell, making some to cry and remember the Day of Judgment initially. There was virtually nowhere to play and access to library and hospital was impractical. But these problems never stood in our way when we wanted fun although we thought they were good excuses not to indulge in any curricular activities. So people played and amused themselves in whatever possible ways. Hostel life is a blessing at this time of life, where one learns to move on oneself, adding to the stress coping skills as well as shedding some spoon-feeding habits.
As our session ran through the rule of Pervez Musharraf and 9/11 followed by war on terror, the sittings in the hostel were always warm. Political discussions and differences of opinion kept us awake at nights and weekends, usually ending up in parathas on Murree Road and a couple of times on the Mall, Murree too.
I can feel proud of my session for several reasons. The 27th batch of Rawalians is pioneer of so many sports and other activities in the college. We are perhaps the only batch whom our teachers gave a farewell in the college. The beauty of diversity was unique in our class. We had so many genius students, some in academics, others in sports, still other in still other activities. I acknowledge the accommodating ambiance in our batch, so much so that anyone who happened to be a 27th batch Rawalian once, stayed with the batch no matter what happened academically.
|Hidden behind the red flag..|
I believe we were lucky to have good teachers too. From basics to clinical departments, our teachers were very helpful to us. I am grateful to all those people in the class and in college administration who organized various events, to all class representatives and office bearers of all organizations and every single 27th batch Rawalian for making it a memorable session to be in.
Personally I am a bit unfortunate not to have too many cherish-able memories with my class fellows, perhaps due to my bad sense of humor. Even though I lived in hostel, which is a place of immense communication and interaction, I failed many a times to break the shell. The main reason for all that was myself, the persona of me who was struggling to get rid of my shortcomings and to keep pace with the loads of education and stress. It took its toll; I struggled to get out of the vicious image of a bad student and perhaps a worse fellow to my class. Although I met some of the best people in my life during all this time (and have never let them slip away from my friends’ list) the limitation (and even the quality) of my interaction with rest of the class (particularly the fairer gender) speaks for itself. But, as Omer Mukhtar of Libya once put it that the burden that doesn’t break your spine strengthens it, so did it to me. I struggled through all these stereotypes and came out to be a stronger person, with better control on emotional outbursts and traumas of failures. I realize that RMC gave me much more than just a medical degree. It means lot more than an alma mater to me.
Despite all this fun, I have a lot to regret too. I regret the moments when I fell short of being supportive to my fellows, when I let myself down before others as well as myself, when I shouted at others, when I insulted them (deliberately or by mistake), when I stretched political differences to personal problems, when I discriminated or even when I fell short of expectations of others. I regret all those moments when I caused any hurt or pain to anyone and want to go back and undo it, to apologize, to make them smile and to return them the moment of happiness that they deserved instead of the moment of anger. To all Rawalians of 27th batch, thanks for being around. You all mean a lot to me........