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My First Day At My Medical College

My First Day In AM College There are some days that remain etched in your memory for ever. For example, my first day at school. I remember the head lamps of the dreaded bus, which was to take me to the school, to this this day.  Even now, if I see a bus with head lamps like those, my heart skips a beat. The day when I went to stadium to watch a cricket match for the very first time. Day when Pakistan won Hockey World Cup of 1978. The day Muhammad Ali lost to Joe Frazier.  There is something in those events which are considered by the brain far too important to forget. Neural programming, that makes our minds so attracted to events that we consider of extreme interest or importance, is far too strong to get wiped away with the jets of passing time. One such day is 14th April 1984. We were living in Peshawar in that year. My selection for the 'College' had been completed in late winter. My name had also been published in the merit list of Punjab university, but there was no doubt in my mind, where I wanted to go to study medicine. Now I am not entirely sure why I was so convinced of the soundness of this choice! I guess, 'jets of passing time' have wiped away some of the unpleasant details! Remember the 'list' of essential items that we were supposed to bring to the college? I religiously collected each and every one of them. Yes, even the PT shorts, which had a 'defined' length. Lounge suit, sherwani...the lot. In those days, I used to think of the future as a big bright city, which was lying somewhere out there...waiting for me.  I travelled to Rawalpindi on 12th April and stayed at my uncle's house in Lalazar. For the next day or so, I checked the contents of my suitcase every other hour and made sure that my holdall was not missing any of its vital contents. My uncle, who is a doctor himself, gave me some advice about studies. "Must do dissection. Read the dissector regularly. Keep up to date with studies. It all piles up...." etc etc. I kept on uttering my, " Ji Chacha jaan, Of course chacha jan" absentmindedly.  I was more worried about the life in hostel. At the ripe old age of 18, I had left the secure surroundings of my home for the very first time. I wondered how would I cope. Well the fateful day arrived. My uncle dropped me at the hostel mess. I found out my room and with the help of a bearer, transferred my luggage in the room. I was given the 'side room' of barrack 3. I had one room mate who had already arrived and had placed his luggage there. He was however nowhere to be seen. I checked his name. Babur Zaheer Yusufi. Hmmm...I wondered if he was related to the great Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi. May be..Well I shall soon find out (And find out I did!). There was a lot of hustle and bustle in the barracks. Lots of students were arriving. Some accompanied by their full families (the late Usman Qayyum comes to mind), some with parents only and some with friends or one or two relatives. You could straightaway tell the boys who had come from boarding institutions. These former boarders were on familiar ground. Their confident demeanour, comradeship and cocky swagger was setting them apart from the lesser mortals. Although, I was in a boarding house for the first time, I was lucky in the sense that around 20 of my college mates were in this group of students. At least I knew these 20 boys reasonably well. Some of them were in fact very good friends. It was therefore not too bad for me. I quickly hooked up with the usual suspects. Sameer, Kaiser, Ahsan, Sarwar, Asim and Asad . Last two were not only my class mates in F Sc but 'bench mates'. The former 4 were in the same college and before that were from my school. It was grand to see us developing into a group. Students who did not know anyone were understandably quiet and reserved. They would soon loosen up though, as time would tell. I kept on asking about Yusufi. Had any one seen him? Did anyone know him? No one from my friends knew of him. A student in Asim, Shujaat and Asad's room ( later I found out his name as one Rao Ali Shan) however told me that Yusufi was an Abdalian. OK..'So how is he like?' I eagerly asked. Rao gave a hearty and infectious laugh..." Tujhay pata chal jaa'y ga! Khi khi khi  .." (This trademark laughter of Rao soon became his 'signature' gesture). OK it was getting interesting! Ahsan and Kaiser were in rooms with no other previously known friends. In Ahsan's room, I saw a serious looking student who was being very quiet. Big intelligent eyes and even bigger glasses. I glanced at his name tag. Bilal Umair. Hmm. May be we could be friends one day. Rest of Ahsan's room mates also looked nice people. Rifat looked vaguely familiar. I could not however place him. (Later on I found out that for a few months, we had been class mates in year 6th!) . In Kaiser's room, I met Shahid Rasheed. I had first met him a couple of months ago in CMH Peshawar where we had our 'medical' examination. Tariq Hakeem was also in our batch and we had spent a good couple of days back then. Sameer was in a side room on his own. In the room next to his, were very interesting people. One Nasir Saeed Khattak was the most prominent as he was busy chatting people up. He had already locked horns with 'Maulana' Tahir Ahmed and was energetically talking to him about something. Khattak was being his usual mischievous self and trying to wind the late Maulana up. Tahir (May Allah SWT bless his sould, Ameen) in his boyish innocence was trying to answer Nasir's naughty queries.  Sarwar was in the room with Babar Khan and Asif Asghar. Samer, being the only foreigner was getting a lot of attention. Some of the students were busy teaching him the usual swear words. Bright as he was, he had mastered them quickly earning gleeful approval of his 'teachers'! Our gup shup had barely started that there was time for maghrib. Quickly, a 'jamaat' was formed behind the mess in front of barrack 1. I think every one attended the prayer. I remember Qazi Taqweem standing in the front row with a handkerchief tied on his head. He gestured towards my uncovered head asking me to cover it. I did not have a hanky so just looked down! Qad qaamat is salaa'at ..Qad qaamat is salaa'at.. After the prayers, it was dinner time. 19:30 was a bit early for me to have dinner, but soon, I found out that in this establishment, lots of my previous routines were to get modified. For the life of me, I do not remember what we had for dinner. Roast chicken and rice with curry perhaps? Any one else remember? After the dinner, it was time for the first real taste of army life. A shrill whistle and call for attendance. As 'staff' would call it, "Fallni". (Yazdani used to hate this term like anything!) After the attendance, a tall smart officer gave us a pep talk about our routine in the hostel. He introduced himself as our 'Adjutant'. Captain Amjad Fahim, AMC. I do not remember what exactly he said but I think it was to do with our routine for the next day. After his brief address, he introduced us to our 'Proctor'. One second year cadet, Khawar Bashir Bhatti. He was accompanied by Kamal Saleem who was the 'senior' cadet of 7th MBBS entry. Khawar's address was as long as Capt Amjad's was brief. First of all, our entry's appointment holders were identified. Sarfaraz Ali Zahid was to be the senior cadet. Muhammad Waseem, Sameer Zar and yours truly were to be the 'barrack commanders'. I had absolutely no clue as to what the darnn appointment meant! I however, just quietly kept on confirming to what was happening around me. After the appointments business, some proper army 'bull ****' started. 'We were 'nothing'. We were the 'most useless specimens of Homo sapiens that ever walked on earth'. 'We were' lowest of the low'. We were supposed to address all our seniors as 'SIR'. ('Yeh bhai jaan shai jaan civil colleges main hota hai- Understand?')....Oh my God! what the hell is happening? Do these guys really think that we are such imbeciles? After a good hour or so of this 'tag team special' by our proctor and 2nd year's senior cadet, we were allowed to leave for our rooms. I finally manged to meet my 'famed' room mate. Nice chap. Genuine smile. Very friendly. My nerves eased. I wondered what Rao was supposed to mean with his dodgy laughter! Me and Yusufi chatted and soon it was lights out time. Cool April weather of Pindi. A gentle breeze. Starlit night. I slowly drifted to the valley of sleep.This serene sleep was rudely broken in the small hours of the morning. A couple of boys broke into my side room and hissed in a low but angry voice, " Wake up you scoundrels!" Oh ho...What was going on! On third or fourth command (which was delivered barely six inches from my ear), I opened my eyes. Someone grabbed me from my collar and lifted me. I was now wide awake. I barely had the time to put my slippers on and was marched out of my room. Yusufi by comparison was a much heavy sleeper (or a much better actor at sleeping!). He had barely moved from his bed! I was however now not concerned about what was happening to him. I was scared for my own safety. The two boys who had forced me out of the room had now joined a gang of 10-15 'Sirs'. I was their 'trophy' and it appeared that each one of them wanted me to do some sort of physical punishment. Frog jump, front roll, jeep, gorkha..Hell, I hardly knew the meanings of these words! Running with this pack of wolves, I was double marched behind the barrack on to a road. This road was known to me. About 9 years ago, when I was in class 5th, we used to live in a house which was at the corner of this road and the main Abid Majeed road. Despite the 'gravity' of my situation, I could not help but smile at the thought that I used to play with my brothers in this very field, where I was now being forced to do physical punishments and made to hear all sorts of profanities! This circuis lasted for about half an hour. Adjutant's 'watch dogs' soon caught up with the pack of wolves and rescued me. In the mayham, I had lost a slipper and had gained a laceration on my thigh. I was therefore taken to the MH MI room and my wound was dressed. (Eat your heart out folks. In uniform, I was the first one to visit the MI room!). By the time, I returned to the barracks , first rays of a golden orange sun were making their appearance. Yusufi was fast asleep curled up in his  bed. I was wide awake reminiscing at the events of  past 24 hours. If future was going to be as exciting as this, then I was surely in for some pretty interesting times !

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