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Till I was fifteen I always wanted to be a Wildlife Vet, something very much unheard of about 25-30 years ago – then my mother had her first and fatal coronary episode – I was in 10th standard. Hurt, anger and a mixture of emotions made me decide to become a Cardiologist / Cardiac surgeon. Those were the days when admissions to medical colleges were done on basis of 12th board exams. Studied hard for next two years got admission to the local Govt. Medical College it took tow more years for the reality and certain amount of disillusionment to sink in. The reality was I could not leave my father behind and go out of Nagpur to pursue higher studies, disillusionment was about the rampant nepotism in medical teaching circles – I was neither a rich man’s son nor a some big shot Doctor’s (God)child. There was no way I could not have become the later but I was indeed motivated to make more money than my usual odd jobs… I started playing in the stock market – sometime during these four years I guess became a maverick.
From Cardiology the ambition was scaled down to Paediatrics. Paediatrics simply because I loved children and seeing them smile after making them well was worth everything. I finished my post graduation in Paediatrics started my own OPD in a rented room of a lower middle class area of a city. I charged Rs10/- per patient per visit. The next year just continued to deepen my disillusionment. My seniors advised me to give injectables to get more money, send referrals, throw parties for other doctors, start indoors patient facility – none of which I could bring myself to do. To boost my paltry income I joined as a post graduate student in Forensic Medicine, the stipend was good – I still tenaciously held on to my belief that if I made the children alright the parents will tell more people and so on… The parents did their bit sometimes going out of their way to do it. (Un)fortunately I was too good a doctor – kids I treated for any substantial length of time stayed well for a long long time. It was very heartwarming to see them go to schools or where ever and hear them shouting greetings to me
I finished my MD Forensic in two years instead of three thanks to a huge favour by my HOD, got a Govt job which I immediately hated for the corruption but continued for some time. Soon after doing MD Forensic I got married to Swati. She had a decent job, I still persisted with my Paediatric OPD – days were still bearable and passing happily.
Swati got pregnant, down trend in advertising industry meant an impending job loss for her. We had decided that once the child was about 3 months old she will look for a job in one of the metros.
One day I estimated that the vegetable vendor with his cart in front in front of my clinic made much more in a day than I did!! The disillusionment was complete!!! This was no longer about being good and pursuing a cause, it was the survival of my soon to be born child and our family – nothing was bigger than that! Swati still insisted that once she got a job things will be OK again.
On 5th November 1997 a miracle culminated and another began – Aasim was born – parenthood suddenly changed our perspective. Staying together as a family was the most important thing, a few more things happened concurrently. Internet reached our city, one of my friends whom we met thru the local BBS introduced me to Linux, having worked with computers since early teens and the ethics gathered over years Open Source instantly appealed – the world was our playground where meritocracy ruled, where people several times smarter than you were willing to help you for the joy of helping or simply because they could.
The mould was cast – we decided that we would live off the stock market nest-egg, which I had collected in college, for some time. Thus SANIsoft was started. A total of two employees, myself and Swati, one computer called the Insider as it was housed inside our bedroom. The going was tough, we never expected it to be easy.
Aasim is nearly nine now and we have never had a dull day in our lives, financially Aasim need not worry about his education ever and I have all the toys that I ever coveted.
A couple of months ago, a doctor friend said “You sold out”. I remarked “Yes, but I did not black market myself”
I love my present job and status, but I still miss being a doctor. I know I can’t have my cake and eat it too but SANIsoft’s success is now opening doors to my childhood dream of being a Wildlife vet, which may still come true in a bigger way that I ever could envisage before…