When people, with so much added curiosity and appreciation, ask me why did I choose such a noble occupation, I often tell,
“I didn’t choose anything. I just stumbled upon it”
Let me rewind –
Before I begin my story, I want to tell you three things :
1. I am born and brought up in India, that too South India, that too in an educational town called, Manipal, where everybody believes in studying hard and scoring hundred out of hundred.
2. I was a very hard working and studious person, who never scored less than 90% in school days
3. I got 62% in 12th!!!!!!!
Now, you guys can imagine the life of a girl who was considered to be one of the toppers in school gets just two more extra percentages to belong to a category of “first class”. The same “first class” which, if my dad had scored during his school days, he would have been our village hero but it only brought shame to my family. The useless people (who have nothing better to do) called my home continuously in disbelief and also, to show their sadness over my failure (In reality, they just wanted to insult us).
“This is what happens when you give unwanted freedom to your daughter” to my parents and “how can you bring shame to your family” to me, became the breakfast and dinner for us. Had I not been a strong woman, I would committed suicide during those months. I was concerned about my low score but I was more depressed by the words of those people who once respected my father and had great admiration towards me.
I was broken, to be honest!!! I was an 18 year old teenager, who just lost her battle of exams to a bunch of stupids in her class!!! I lost my confidence, my hope of having a better future and also, some privileges like a new mobile phone!!!
When I got a call from one of the “good” engineering colleges in our town, my dad said he will not be able to pay the huge donation as I didn’t get a merit seat. My dream of building a bigger house next to my dad’s house collapsed right in front of my eyes. I had such low self esteem during those days, I started believing I couldn’t do anything better in life and hence, engineering was completely out of the question.
Now I needed a “course”!!! That’s it. I wanted to do my graduation and started looking for options.
1. I went to Alva’s college to apply for physiotherapy and even paid six thousand rupees as down-payment.
2. I applied for BBM, when the application dates had crossed the deadline, with the help of some people known to the college principle.
3. I applied for Journalism with my mom’s influence as once again I had crossed the application deadline.
4. I applied for occupational therapy in Manipal College of allied health sciences (MCOAHS).
So, yes, speech therapy was not even on my list!!!!
I was keen on getting into journalism and the only reason I am a speech therapist today is because I slept off on the orientation day and my mom felt insulted to approach the same people again to get me a seat.
“Your daughter forgets to submit application form on time and now she forgets the orientation date. Why don’t you get your daughter married and make sure she doesn’t forget her wedding date!!!!”
Nobody said anything like this and I thank mom for not approaching them again.
Now you guys definitely know, how lost I was back then.
So, finally, there came the big day. I had my fingers crossed for more than five hours that day just to get a seat in occupational therapy. MCOAHS had a reputation and being a loser, I wanted to be a part of it. During the orientation, people were called based on their math rank or biology rank. I hated biology and it was almost 100 ranks behind my math rank. Hence, I opted for math rank for obvious reasons.
It was my turn next…
Me – “Hello”
He – “Hello.. So, Shruthi tell me which course do you want to opt for”
Me, with confidence – “occupational therapy”
He – “I am so sorry Shruthi. For people who come through maths rank there are only two options available. Speech and hearing or optometry.”
Immediately, I thought, what the hell is optometry but was familiar with speech and hearing as my neighbour had studied it.
He – “if you don’t want either, you can go back and submit your biology rank and come back again”
I had a minute to decide. I was worried as my biology rank was poor and I was unsure of my possibilities of getting into any course through my biology rank.
Exactly after ten seconds, I said,
“How about you give me a seat in speech and hearing and here’s your fees”.
It seemed more like buying vegetables –
“ah.. ok.. so if you don’t have potatoes, how about you give me some eggplant??”
This is how I entered into the vast field of speech language pathology and audiology which I hated throughout my six years of education and three years of work!!!
Irrespective of my constant complaints, I had a beautiful journey and if it wasn’t for the department of speech and hearing and my lovely friends, I would have been lost forever.
By the way, no matter how much I say I hate this profession, deep down I have a high regard for what we do and after getting into a school set up, I really love my job.
Maybe god knew I would come to Saudi Arabia eventually, and hence prevented me from opting any profession, where women are not allowed to work in Saudi.
All is well that ends well!!!