ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Urvasi Doolabh, MBChB, is a
medical doctor, born and trained in South Africa.
She wrote “Suffering in Silence:
How to deal with Grief” in 2002 after the brutal slaying of her husband in the
She now lives in Sydney with her
two children, and is currently studying towards recognition of her medical
degree in Australia.
My Story (part sample)
four-letter word around which the world revolves. Birth, marriage, death; the life-changing events, which we
all have to face someday. We often
question the reason for our existence; answers are hard to come by.
It is said that if you believe in God, then you have your answer.
I was born in South Africa on the
26th of December 1974 into an Indian family, a family of medical
professionals: my father was a general practitioner running a busy practice on
the outskirts of Durban. With no
time for much of a family life he had concentrated his efforts on earning a good
salary so that he could provide everything and more for us all.
My mother, a registered nurse and midwife had sacrificed her career to
tend to the family nest. I was the middle child and the only daughter growing up in a
relatively male dominated society. But
I did my parents proud. I was a bright child, ambitious and very motivated.
I wanted to be the best. Academically
I had achieved my goals. I left
school gaining top marks in my exam, and was instantly accepted into medical
school. It was only natural for me to follow in my father’s footsteps, and my
decision to study medicine was welcomed by the family especially since both my
brothers showed no intention of pursuing a medical career.
At that time, the University of
Natal Medical school, (now known as the Nelson R. Mandela school of medicine)
was one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country, which only
accepted people of colour. Basically
you had to be Black to get in. Politically,
South Africa was undergoing a transition from the apartheid era to a
fully-fledged democracy. Dr.
Mandela was being released from prison after his 27-year imprisonment at Robben
Island. It was 1992 and the future
looked bright: a time of hope and happiness.
Africa was still a crime ridden and violent society.
Rape, murder, armed robbery and hijackings were not unfamiliar. The front
pages of most South African newspapers were flooded daily with these
occurrences. It was so common that
it had become accepted as part of our everyday existence.
We chose to ignore it. It
was in this setting that I met my life partner, Vishaal.
I didn’t believe in love at first sight until we met.
From an orthodox Indian gujerati speaking family, Vishaal broke tradition
and family law to be with me. A
brilliant scholar, and this is probably what attracted me to him in the first
place. He had great potential and
could be successful at anything if he so desired.
The eldest of
four children, Vishaal was a born leader and always ahead of the pack; he was
the pride and joy of his family. They
were in the jewellery business and very successful with a string of retail shops
on the north coast of Durban. He
was a few years ahead of me in medical school.
The friendship was instant. Our
courtship was long only because I wanted it that way. I wanted to complete my studies and then get married so that
I would not neglect either one.
became the formative years of our relationship, and we were both growing into
mature adults, becoming closer with each day that passed by. We had a mutual understanding and respect, and were
compatible in terms of our personalities, religious values and morals.
We were also in the same profession and had similar interests and
hobbies. It was becoming apparent
that we were totally dependent on one another and inseparable.
Not only did we grow to love each other dearly, but also we had become
the best of friends.
In 1998 I
graduated from medical school and was ready to meet the world as Dr Urvasi
Doolabh. Vishaal had already
obtained his degree and had quickly established himself as a popular and
trustworthy general practitioner in our small town.
He was also studying part time towards a degree in commerce. That had been his first love, but he gave into family
pressure to become a doctor. The
Indian community wanted doctors, lawyers and teachers, and in the end we pleased
our parents. It was time to
formalise our relationship. With a
few hiccups along the way, in Dec of 1998 Vishaal and I took our vows in a
traditional Hindu ceremony. It was
a time of great celebration. What a
couple we were! But fate had
something else in store for us.
with the family for a year, it was time for us to move out and start our own
family. Vishaal had completed his
second degree viz. Bachelor of commerce and was already contemplating a third.
He wanted to study the MBA. I
was offered a job in Cape Town to complete my compulsory service to the
government, and so Vishaal and I made the move.
He started his 3rd degree in Cape Town and I started getting
used to the idea of earning my own money.
However trouble was looming on the horizon. The situation in South Africa was rapidly deteriorating. With the high rates of unemployment and an uncertain future for many professionals, South Africa was undergoing a brain drain. To ensure the safety of our family, Vishaal’s family had applied for a business visa to Australia, and emigration was on the cards. His brother and sister had already left to start their lives there, and Vishaal wanted it too. I was very sceptical. With my entire family still living in South Africa, I was not keen to make the move. But as fate would have it, I fell pregnant and the realisation of bringing up a child in such a dangerous society hit home. Vishaal was right. We had to move. It was the right decision for our family. Seven months pregnant and not showing much, I walked into Australia on a holiday visa. Vishaal was a permanent resident thanks to his family who had been granted the same. We immediately applied for my papers and I was granted a bridging visa. Rupa was born in March 2001 in Australia and was the first Australian citizen in our family. It was a time of great change, another life changing event. It was a difficult birth for me, and in a new country without any family support, it was terrible. Somehow by God’s grace we weathered the storm and things started looking up. Vishaal was looking for a job. I was trying to be the best mother that I could possibly be. Both were exceptionally difficult tasks. I wished every day that my mum was there to assist me. But our telephonic relationship got me through many sleepless nights. Rupa was growing up nicely and to both Vishaal’s surprise, and mine I fell pregnant once again, barely 8 months after Rupa’s birth. By the end of the year I was pretty homesick, missing my family and friends. It was time to visit South Africa once again. This was probably the worst decision of my life. Little did I know that the fairytale I was living would turn into a nightmare.
Prices in Australian Dollars CURRENCY
(c)2004 Zeus Publications All rights reserved.