Why Didn’t I Become a Doctor?
“What do you wanna be in life?” one of the neighbors asked me, out of fondness and familiarity, aiming to pull and separate me from my mother’s sari that was draped around her waist that I was clinging to. I was six then. I was not as extrovert with others as I was with my parents.
“Say, doctor!” my mother cued me, cautiously holding her sari so she wouldn’t be disrobed in a tug of war. “I wanna be a doctor.”
I did not leave my mother.
“Have you never seen a person’s face?” my mother hollered. “See, uncle is trying to talk to you.”
My father, who was right there sitting next to the neighbor uncle chatting, pulled me and let my mother go, saying “talk to uncle, answer his question.” In Nepali culture, younger ones hardly call the elders by their names as it is deemed uncultured and disrespectful, so my father was prompting me to call the gentleman, the neighbor “uncle”. In that sense, I used to have many uncles, almost all neighbors were my uncles besides my friends and younger relatives.
After I was pulled, my mother was set free and she left for the kitchen, covering a portion of her head with her shawl, to make some tea and serve my father and the “uncle” as a guest in the house. My mother as a married woman hardly showed her body parts, and she tried to cover them as much as she could in front of others. Doing so was deemed reverence towards her husband, as part of promoting her husband’s prestige and family honor, and maintaining her own chastity and purity.
My mother had already made two cups of tea and was bringing them on a aluminum plate over to where my father and the uncle were sitting, with her shawl covering her head, just showing a red tika on her forehead, a bit of vermilion above her forehead, a necklace of beads, and bangles on both her hands, all of them defining my mother a fully married woman who is devoted to her husband. As she walked, her bangles jingled and clanked that my father felt her presence from a long distance away.
“So you wanna be a doctor, huh?” the “uncle” said, caressing my cheeks. “You got chubby cheeks.” I remained on the lap of my father.
“Yes,” I said, looking up coyly and slowly.
“Good boy,” he said. “Gotta study hard.”
“Go to uncle and talk to him,” My father said, trying to push me out of his lap towards the uncle. I resisted and rather tried to glue myself to my father.
Both my father and the “uncle” were sitting on a mat spread on a futon bed that was placed right by one of the corners of the courtyard under a mango tree that had lost its flowers due to heavy hail and a storm the week before. It was Jesth, the second Nepali month of the year, the time of hail and storms.
“We were expecting a lot of mangoes this year, but the storm did not leave any stone unturned,” my father said looking up at the mango tree and looking back at the uncle. “How old is your son by the way?”
“Oh, he is too young, gotta wait a few more years for him to be ready for school.”
“I do not know what this guy will do,” my father said dusting off my back and gesturing me to see if my mother finished making tea. “His teacher says he is good in math, he can add and subtract one digit numbers.”
“Oh, that’s good!” the uncle said.
“I wish my son would be a doctor,” my father added.
I ran for my mother. My mother had already made two cups of tea and was bringing them on an aluminum plate over to where my father and the uncle were sitting, with her shawl covering her head, just showing a red tika on her forehead, a bit of vermilion above her forehead, a necklace of beads, and bangles on both her hands, all of them defining my mother a fully married woman who is devoted to her husband. As she walked, her bangles jingled and clanked that my father felt her presence from a long distance away. (To be continued…)
 In Hindu mythology, Manu’s Law discusses the responsibility of Hindu women to maintain family honor.