I hear a thousand kind words about me
and it makes no difference
yet I hear one insult
and all confidence shatters. – Rupi Kaur
Rupa was the topper of Sri Ram Institute of Medical Sciences. Her humility and readiness to help her fellow students made her quite popular among the students. Many junior students, who find certain areas of medicine overwhelming, approach her for help and they simply adore her for her knowledge and grace. She also enjoys the admiration of her professors.
During her final year practical exams, her professor looked at her hand and asked,
“Rupa, what is it that you are wearing on your wrist?
Rupa replied, “It’s a sacred thread from Viswanatha Swamy of Banares sir.” Her fiancé, Jai tied it on her wrist, so her attachment to it was even more justified.
The professor said, “Look, I understand your sentiments, but you know, you can’t wear such unsterilized things on your wrist even though you are working with simulated patients.”
Rupa protested, “Sir, it’s a sacred thread and I can’t afford to take it off, I’m sorry.”
Rupa was not allowed to take her practical exam as the professor marked her ‘ineligible’. Rupa was shocked and shattered at her professor’s act. She failed the exam because she didn’t take the practical part of it; she lost her scholaship too.
Many of her fellow students felt sorry for her but there were some who made fun of her. She just couldn’t take it – neither the sympathy nor the humiliation. She went into depression and took ill.
Jai, knew about this and came to see her. He said “Rupa, I tied that piece of thread on your wrist because my grandmother insisted on it.… if the professor asked you to remove it, you should have done it at once, how could you be so reckless” he said rebukingly.”
Rupa started weeping bitterly. He took her hand into his and started to untie the knots of the sacred thread and said, “Look Rupa, you are a doctor and nothing is more sacred to you than your patient’s well-being and safety.”
Rupa continuing to weep said, “ok, what if I take it off now, how can I go to the college again; how can I ever face my professors? They hate me.”
“Rupa it’s your professor who called me up last week and said that I should persuade you to take the exam in November.”
Rupa asked “He CALLED YOU?”
“Yes, he got my phone number from your dad.”
“What did he say?”
“Your professor spoke very highly of you, do you want to know what exactly he said? Then listen – ‘Rupa is one of the finest dentists I ever came across. I know she’s extremely upset with my decision but whatever I did, I did it for a reason. I did not want her to miss a single detail and so I insisted that she take that thread off – you see, she needs to understand how important these little steps are in the practice of medicine – I feel sorry that she had to learn that the hard way’ Jai said.”
Rupa knew her professor’s intent and regretted her thoughtlessness.
Jai said “Rupa, trust me, your professor never meant to hurt you… he is as proud of you as we all are.”
Rupa felt embarrassed at her own childishness and got ready to prepare for her exam in November. Now she knows that breaking a norm, no matter how insignificant it sounds, could risk a patient’s safety, which a wise and dedicated doctor would never do.