In 1970 when we returned to Boston in the spring, it was at the height of its glory. The flowering trees and crisp, bright air were so refreshing. Yet, even with the wonderful weather and all our comforts here, we still believed India was our home, and we both were homesick for a few days.
The streets here seemed too quiet and orderly. There was little traffic, no animals sharing the road, and no constant hustle and bustle with horns sounding off in every direction. Our ambivalence, though, was short-lived, as we quickly fell back into daily life and were once again content.
Raj and I heard good news on our return: the U.S. immigration laws had changed in our favor while we were in India. We were now eligible for a green card: permanent-resident status. No test to pass. We were exuberant; this gave us total flexibility in our future plans. We immediately completed the necessary paperwork. Then there was even more good news: Raj and I could afford to upgrade to a new apartment.
After hunting around, we decided on Back Bay Manor, a high-rise off Huntington Avenue. We had very few belongings, so the move was easy. We were living in comfort and overjoyed. Now I was back to working hard and getting ready for the FRCPC exam.
In the fall of 1970, I went to Montreal for my written portion of the exam. It was a tough three-day, timed exam, but my hard work was rewarded, and I passed. I was very happy with my achievement, and I could not help but think of how proud Bapaji would have been. The following year, I’d return to Toronto for the clinical and oral sections and be done with this final, ultimate test. My dream after that was to get pregnant. I wanted to wait until after the oral exam, because, in those days, women doctors were not common, and I did not want any more strikes against me.
Throughout the next year, I studied hard and attended all the weekly anesthesia conferences at the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University, staying abreast of all the latest research and developments in my field.
In the fall of 1971, I traveled to Toronto, feeling prepared and confident. My bedside clinical exam went well. Next came the orals. I was questioned by three examiners on many diverse topics for thirty minutes.
I was satisfied with my performance and my answers, but somewhere along the way, I guess they were not. In the late evening, I received my results: I had failed.
I was in shock. This was completely unexpected. Never had I felt so miserable. I returned to Boston and immediately reviewed all my answers with the senior staff in my department. No one had an explanation for my failing. I couldn’t even blame it on being visibly pregnant, as I had put off pregnancy for that very reason. I continued to mourn for a while—it was a bitter pill to swallow—but I eventually recovered. In
As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Failing was a shocking surprise After a period of grief I gained the courage to move forward. This was a start for preparing me for future challenges. I learned that failure is multi-dimensional and to find inspiration, experiences and lessons from others. In September 1972, I returned to Montreal and passed on my second attempt and my dream was fulfilled. I was glorified!
In early childhood learning from Bauji and Bapaji prepared me for failure :
If at first you don’t succeed try try try again
Nothing is impossible in the dictionary of mankind.
As Nelson Mandela said The greatest glory in living is not in never failing but rising every time we fall
I have had many personal challenges in my life. Despite the best state of the art medical care, death of my patient at times was unavoidable if an illness was irreversible. I always ask myself, could I have done some things different?
Loosing my Dad and Mom was difficult. And loosing my husband Raj was daunting forever. What could I have done different? My only solace is that I did my best and gave optimal care to my patients, loved my parents and my dear husband Raj. We cannot fight life and death. Acceptance is difficult but we have no choice with events of the cycle of life.
Lyrics written by Jay Livingston “Que sera Que sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future is not ours to see”