Certain script writers of popular movies and television shows should be questioned for making us dive deep into this sea of unrealism because when you watch Rahul and Anjali singing and dancing and playing basketball all the time, with their teachers asking questions like- What is love?Pyaar kya hota hai?, you let your gullible and naïve self believe that that’s what colleges look like and if not absolutely accurate, there has to be something true about that depiction because they say movies are inspired by what happens in the real world. But then you go to your college and reality hits you harder than you could ever imagine because dental colleges of Punjab are not only far, so far away from the impressive things you grow up watching on TV but are also different from all other colleges because there are no official trips, no official farewell, hardly any co-curricular activities, no bunks, no pranks, no summer-breaks lasting for two months, no happy weekends because Saturdays are working and there are tests on most Mondays and honestly, you learn to live with all of this without whining because when you choose to be a doctor, you let the journey consume a part of you before it enables you to be able to relieve the pain of the people who look at you with immense faith. Gradually, you also learn to make peace with like a thousand submissions(and five thousand rejections)- from wax carvings to orthodontic appliances, begging the daily wage earners to get their teeth cleaned from you (because many of them don’t brush teeth and chew tobacco and therefore, are ‘special cases’), paying people to turn up as your patients and sometimes treat them with patties to express your gratitude, dealing with the people who use the words ‘fail’ and ‘back’ more often than they should, being prepared for unexpected results (no, you can’t question anyone even if the shortage of a mark or two costs you 6-12 months of your life), working hard to make decent boxes for your appliances and carvings, only to realize that one student of your batch has done it so nicely that the whole class has to match that level of prettiness (yaar fine arts ka paper hai?), witnessing the ‘white coat fights’ over patients, experiencing Babu Bhaiya’s iconic ‘mereko dhak dhak ho re la hai’ 300 out of 365 days of the final year, knocking all the doors of almost all the houses of the neighboring villages to convince people to get their dental treatment done from you for your exams, dealing with the panic attacks when those sweet looking people refuse to turn up an hour before your exam, studying and studying hard and yet feeling so dumb during the oral examinations, witnessing your batch mates cry while becoming the ‘smile designers’ and realizing that there comes a point in your life when nothing, nothing is more important than passing the final year examinations and becoming a dentist.
When I look back at it, I almost forget about the things I made peace with because I learnt so much in those five years, because I have the most supportive family one could ever ask for, because a couple of teachers held my hand through it(you know who you are), because I met a bunch of amazing people in college, made many unforgettably beautiful memories with them, had a great, GREAT time in the last one year of my graduation(internship) and get to introduce myself with the abbreviation Dr. in front of my name for the rest of my life.
But I wish dentists had not made peace with the things like these AMAZING job offers-₹4000-₹10,000 per month(after investing 12,00,000-15,00,000 and working crazy hard), having to leave their country for better opportunities in Canada, losing the verbal battle from the people who refuse to look at dentists as real doctors, dealing with the people who ask them when they will have a clinic of their own, overlooking the fact that it takes a lot of money to set up one and a dental clinic does not guarantee success (there are hundreds of dentists in your city, can you name more than two?).
So the next time you visit a dentist, please don’t say- hayee, haath lgaane k paise lete hain, because a) those haath went through a lot of training before they became good enough to be put into a mouth and b) why a good dentist asking for 5000 for making your tooth ache go away, is a problem when it doesn’t hurt you to pay your parlor wali didi 5000/visit?