The first hurdle was the fact that being born in Bantwa, I was a subject of Junagadh state and could not apply directly for admission to Grant Medical College.
Dr Reddy clarified that selection for that year had already been made but I could apply for the term commencing in June 1947.
The story I wrote last time, and the talk I gave as ‘my job talk’, proved so popular on that occasion that I have used it often since, but like all such stories, there is very little truth in it. The truth in my case is rather mundane.
When my eldest brother Janmohamed’s ambition of joining the ranks of ICS was thwarted by changed family fortunes, he decided to be a lawyer, simply because he could do the course as a part-time student, attending the law college every evening, while doing a full-time job to earn an income to feed his wife, infant son, my sister and I.
Umar, our younger brother, was next in line but being born with paralysis of his right upper and lower limb, was erroneously advised against studying medicine, so he decided to become a lawyer.
When my elder brother Sattar’s turn came to pick subjects for his ‘A’ level, known then locally as ‘Inter- science’, initially he selected subjects which could have led him to medicine but changed midstream to arts subjects and ended up as a lawyer as well.
When my turn came, all eyes were on me; the family had surfeit of lawyers and a doctor was needed in the house! Fortunately, I too was inclined that way. But my path to medicine was not easy; it was paved with pot-holes.
The first hurdle was the fact that being born in Bantwa, I was a subject of Junagadh state and could not apply directly for admission to Grant Medical College (GMC), my preferred college and applicable to me where Junagadh had one reserved seat to which I had to be nominated by the State.
In connection with this, I had to see the British Resident, a high official of the Raj, who made the final decision on who got the State nomination. It was the first time I met an Englishman and I am afraid that my memory of that meeting is not pleasant.
He was a colonel in the army and projected a combined image of a bulldog and a barrasab, the big boss.
As I waited in his front office, I could see an enormous curtain-shaped fan moving like a pendulum to cool him. When I was finally ushered in his office, I sat in front of him for a couple of minutes before he condescendingly talked to me.
While I was waiting, I could see at the far end a barefooted, turbaned menial sitting on the hard floor, pulling a thick string to rock the large pleated fan hanging from the ceiling.
The colonel’s first words to me were, “Take your dirty elbows off my desk.” He growled contemptuously, looking at my elbows protruding through the holes of my cotton jacket, the jacket worn especially to meet him.
I had difficulty in understanding his brash English but with the scowl on his face and not-too-gentle a tap on my knuckles, I surmised what he said and quickly complied.