Light At The End Of The Corridor
by Ruby Bayan - 02/18/00
“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor!” – every child’s big dream. It was mine, too. But Fate had something else for me.
The corridor in the Chemistry Pavilion was always dark and musty. It reeked of ammonia and acid fumes from the laboratory classrooms where we mixed reagents and unknowns.
I hated Chemistry. I could never comprehend what the point was. And I detested the smell of sulfur that stuck to my clothes. But with one semester to go before graduation, I just had to pass that Chemistry 25. Then I would be off to Med School.
It was a month before graduation when our Chemistry grade cards were distributed. A student assistant handed me mine. I gave it a quick look and walked away. Holding the card in my hands, I walked down the humid corridor. It had never been so dark and so cold. I felt a thick and heavy sensation in my head. I couldn’t breathe. Something was stuck in my throat. There was no one else around. Or maybe I just couldn’t see.
Suddenly, my knees buckled. My back slid down the freezing concrete wall as I slowly slumped on the tile floor. My two hands still held my Chemistry grade card like they were all glued together. I focused on the red mark circled around my grade. Did I see it correctly? I must have been mistaken. I stared at the grade that judged my past and spelled my future. I wasn’t mistaken. I failed my Chemistry 25.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I lifted my head to plead, “No, God, please! No!” I closed my eyes as a blinding rush of images drowned me. Four years of pre-med, all gone – erased by one red mark that disqualified me from Med School. All my hopes of becoming a doctor – all gone. “Dear God, why? What am I going to do now?”
My horror and disbelief shifted to self-pity and fear... “What will my future be? What will I tell my parents? How will I face my friends?” And in another minute, hate. I cursed the university for employing wicked professors who take pride in flunking half the class. I cursed Chemistry for being so difficult to understand. I cursed myself for letting it happen. Sobs muffled my screams, “But I did my best. I worked hard. I studied my lessons. Why do I deserve this?”
It took a while for me to build up the courage to tell my mother of my failing grade. I wanted her to be the one to tell my father. They had always been supportive of my dream to become a doctor. This would surely devastate them. I showed my mother the card and apologized for what it meant. I started to cry again. I let the tears well in my eyes so that I wouldn’t see the disappointment in her face.
She held me close and with her most comforting voice, whispered, “My child, this is for the best. We wouldn’t have been able to afford sending you to Med School, anyway. If you had qualified for the college of medicine, your father and I would have had to mortgage the house to finance your schooling. You’re an exceptional girl. You will find your happiness.”
My mother’s words put my situation in a totally different perspective. Life would have been unbearable for our family, needing to make ends meet so that I could be a doctor. I understood. The reality of the big picture helped me rise above my frustration.
So, I moved on, confident that I will be able to find my happiness, like my mother said. I enrolled in Chemistry again and graduated with a bachelor’s degree. I took the job they offered me at the university. I explored hobbies and interests I had always wanted to engage in. I fell in love and got married. I gained many new friends and associates. With them, my family and I enjoyed countless adventures. I had forgotten about wanting to become a doctor.
On my twenty-fifth birthday, at about the time I would have finished Med School, my mother came to me and said, “You see? It had all been for the best.” She was right. I had a cozy home, a loving husband, a brilliant son, and a fulfilling career in information technology. She smiled as I reassured her, “Yes, I’m very happy. I guess this was how it was really meant to be.”
I looked back and realized – the questions I asked God, while weeping in that dark and dreary corridor, have all been answered. A truly bright future had unfolded for me.