Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realizationthat sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Dada(Grandfather) would vividly remember the tale of when Ram defeated the multi-headed demon, but wouldn't remember what he just had for lunch. I would spend hours listening to all his stories, whether it be true or not. He taught me the art of storytelling, and I learned to integrate it into my life and reflect on the lessons from the stories. Most importantly, I was able to overcome my shy tunnel-minded self. The dinner table was never quiet. Whether it be about how I learned why we have dreams to the accident at self-defense class, my love of storytelling from Dada sparked my curiosity to learn, gave me an open mind, and a voice.
Dada became the main character in his own story as he traveled from the ER to the nursing home to his own home, and back again to the ER. Although, the great tragedy of this story was that his cells never seemed to find a break from metastasizing. During the time we spent together in his journey, we would talk for hours, annoying the nurses with our laughter and reminiscing about memories through our shared art of storytelling, which allowed him to escape from the bleak walls of the hospital with a smile that couldn't be wiped off his face.
Although there was no feasible solution to get rid of his cancer, it felt as if the nurses and doctors didn't even try to find one. I remember being there for him through all his questions without a single idea in mind of an answer. I remember all the time I spent sitting in silence just waiting for just something I could cling to in signs of hope. I remember trying to hold back tears of frustration. I remember the helplessness.
Although, as fast as despondency had filled my heart after he left this world, it was now gone. I was consumed by anger, frustration, and motivation. My mind overran with the view of how hospitals worked; a tug-of-war between reality and belief. I wanted to be that person that can answer the questions. I wanted to become a physician. Driven to immerse myself into the medical community, I became the Research Officer for Future Doctors of America club. My curiosity and voice guided me to present innovative topics and findings to my fellow peers like how fish could teach us how to cure blindness to the mysteries of autism as few can resist their genetic destiny and become almost superhuman. Apart from the marvels of medical science, I wanted to feel, connect, and find an experience in which my interest would turn into passion. I volunteered in the emergency department at my local hospital and shadowed doctors. While shadowing, I witnessed triaging, patient diet monitoring/transitioning from diagnosis to treatment. This was the first time I was able to be on the other side. The side that made the helplessness go away and be the change. While volunteering, I met a patient named Shreya, an eight-year-old girl diagnosed with terminal cancer. She would laugh uncontrollably whenever I told her about one of my many embarrassing stories and making fun of our shared experiences with belans (Rolling pin Indian parents use to scare when mischievous). For a moment, memories flooded back from when me and Dada were in the hospital room. I remembered that laughter, and not only did Shreya and Dada forget that they were dying, but their smiles expressed happiness and the beauty of being alive.
There is something sacred, empowering, when a connection forms when people need it the most; whether it be simple as starting a joke, or just providing some words of familiarity during times of loneliness and gloom. We may never end the sting of loss, but both physicians and stories become the bridge between the past and the future. There is the chance to learn from tragedy and use that to shape a better future. If I can learn something from one loss, keep moving forward, and use that knowledge to help even a single person - save one life, bring a moment of joy, avoid a moment of pain-then that is how I want to spend my life. Through my work, I want to live up to my name and culture to truly mean happiness.