Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I Graduated to the Rousing Refrain of the Imperial March

"Obviously a strongly elongated penis is the solution."

Dr Alexander Arkhipkin

No, I'm not going to divulge the context of this fantastic quote.

On the 2nd of July, 1843, Samuel Hahnemann, creator of the quack alternative medicine system known as homeopathy, died and left the world a worse place than he found it. 168 years later, more than two-hundred new medical doctors graduated in my home city of Malacca and some of them will probably not be a complete waste of oxygen on this planet.

I did not want to attend my own graduation day initially, but I feared that my parents may not let me stay alive for very long had I shirked my filial duty of suiting up in an anachronistic ceremonial robe and putting on a silly square hat for the purpose of being photographed by them as proof to friends and relatives that they have begotten something narrowly better than a fart bubble in our end of the gene pool.

During the ceremony, I was seated beside Sanjeev, my Seychellois batchmate and fellow atheist, but he wasn't one for much stimulating conversation that afternoon, unfortunately. He was good only for groaning every five minutes about how hungover he was. Anyhow, he could have graduated with distinction had he not attended his viva voce drunk off his horse but just for pulling that stunt, he had eternally earned the respect of everybody who knew him - and he, brilliant chap that he is, knew which honours were higher.

As expected, there were boring scripted speeches read by important personages wearing even sillier looking Tudor bonnets. Next came the part that parents had been waiting for: the presentation of our degree scrolls as our names were declared aloud by the Dean of the Indian half of our college, whose Indian tongue struggled valiantly to pronounce our exotic Malaysian names (I mean this in good humour since I am rather fond of the guy). The Chinese students with the surname "Ng" bore the worst brunt of the butchering - it was consistently corrupted to "Angie". No one sought to correct him the entire time because presumably, they thought it was a hoot.

Then, the generically ostentatious orchestral fanfare playing throughout the proceedings over the PA system changed and the Star Wars Main Theme started blaring heroically in its stead. Right after that, The Imperial March played with sinister pomp as new doctors continued to step up solemnly on stage to receive their accolades. And yes, it was as hilarious as you can imagine.

I heard mutterings amongst my colleagues about how inappropriate it was that the leitmotif of one of the greatest movie villains of all time accompanied what was the most important moment of their lives (to date). It was, after all, the song the Band of the Welsh Guard played as a not-so-covert insult when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, an infamous abuser of human rights and asshole of some note, visited the United Kingdom.

Not me. I think it was glorious and it made me glad that I didn't miss my graduation day after all. If I had a Darth Vader helmet with me at the time, I swear I would have worn it on stage. Now, I can tell everyone that I graduated from med school to the rousing refrain of The Imperial Fucking March.

I have graduated
After all, I already got the evil black robe bit down pat.

The lot of us then did not take the Hippocratic Oath as was erroneously announced (which was a bummer because I was so looking forward to swearing to Apollo, Asclepius, Hygeia, Panaceia and all the other Greek gods) but took instead the Physicians' Oath codified in the Declaration of Geneva. It was alright except for the line that went: "I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception, even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity."

I omitted my pronouncement of the part about respecting human life from "the time of conception" since modern medical practice, even in relatively religious Malaysia, necessitates that I don't. I wouldn't be able to prescribe emergency contraception or allow the destruction of leftover embryos in fertility clinics without being an oath breaker otherwise. I think it's time they update the wording of that oath, even though it's mostly just lip service in these cynical days.

My father arrived just as my mother and grandmother was leaving, cunningly missing the boring bits of the programme and turning up only to participate in a Kodak moment with me.

Later that evening, I celebrated with a few of my favourite individuals from med school by eating out at a Korean restaurant and then going to Shaki's suite at the Equatorial Melaka to have one last night of reckless alcoholism. We watched Inglourious Basterds and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 on telly; the latter being an excellent film to watch when you are inebriated while the former is just excellent. Then, we talked passionately about all the video games we have ever played in our lives. I vaguely remember going out for breakfast with Voon at about 3:00 AM, and then calling room service for a corkscrew at four. Next morning, I woke up in the bathtub.

It was the most fun I ever had in a long, long time. Today, I will be attending an induction course at Port Dickson at 2:00 PM which will officially initiate me into the medical fraternity; into the adult world of salaries, taxes, mortgages and expectations. It came like a zephyr, beneath my notice, but I have come of age.

Searched his feelings,
k0k s3n w4i


Zzzyun said...

congratulations! :)

and yes, i have definitely bear the brunt of having ppl pronounce my surname as "N.G." since arriving in australia.. sometimes u hvta introduce oneself as that as well or else ppl wont understand it.

i find it a little rude to simply pronounce ppl's surnames in the long run (especially one as common as mine) without just simply asking how it's pronounced. sigh.

Das Weiner said...

Congratulations too, and welcome to the next steps after graduation and a job - marriage, children, property headaches and all that. Enjoy. :D

Andrew Jaden said...

Congrats man! Too bad about the Imperial March though. I personally prefer Anakin vs. Obi-Wan (The name of the song, not the duel).

Inn Shan said...

When i hear the Imperial March playing, i was like 'WTF?!?!' with that choice of song. I'm glad that the Imperial March wasn't playing when i'm walking up the stage...haha.

To my surprise, there is an exclusive wiki page for the surname NG???!?

I bet you are going to Sabah for posting.

yuhhui said...

Hey.. Congrats!!! =) Hope you get posted to the place you want !!

c3rs3i said...

Congrats on graduating! And welcome to true adulthood - you will soon commence your lesson in consequences.

Way cool! All I got was Pomp and Circumstance. Did you lose your ceremonial pace for a more imposing stride ala Lord Vader complete with the cape swish at the turn??

Adrian said...

Congrats dude, officially the atheist MD haha

Phoebs said...

i can't send you off at the airport i think T_T are you leavin on sun? mum thinks i shouldn't be going to kl coz of the rally >_<

May Lee said...

congrats! as one who only recently stepped into this weird new adulthood world, i'm so glad to see you here too!!

btw, graduating to the imperial march is fuckin hilarious. i wonder if they were trying to say something...

nicoletta said...

congratulations! Funny enough, the tune of the imperial march eludes me, even though at one point of my life I was humming it every day. The last time I heard the tune, I'm fairly sure it was in a documentary about crabs (Phthirus pubis ).

Azygous said...


Hope that I'm next...
Wondering what are they going to play during my graduation...

k0k s3n w4i said...

thanks for all the congratulations, everyone!

Zzzyun: you think your surname is bad? look at mine and you'll feel all better.

Das Weiner: i'm definitely going to get property headaches - but i'm not too sure about marriage and kids though.

Andrew Jaden: too bad about the imperial march? what do you mean? it was aaawesome, and it's definitely way more iconic compared to anakin vs. obi-wan (which has shades of the imperial march blended into it).

Inn Shan: you bet wrong, my young padawan. i am heading your way. now, i can't wait to get the graduation dvd. i want to upload it to youtube.

yuhhui: that's not hard. there's a lot of places i want to get posted to. oh, i met yi pin there, by the way!

c3rs3i: alas, i don't have an imposing enough stature to pull off a convincing vader - particularly when you have a mortarboard perched on your head.

Adrian: our letters are mbbs, not md. we have twice as many consonants ;)

Phoebs: i'm leaving on the day after bersih concluded. it's okay. i just want to talk to you as much as i can before my life gets hijacked by my job.

May Lee: i like your new job. we should trade. to be paid to write... sigh...

nicoletta: at first glance, i thought you were talking about crustaceans. then i saw the scientific name and went, "ooh, you meant THOSE crabs!"

Azygous: you have not graduated? i have assumed that you're already a doctor. where are you studying?

Azygous said...

I'm in UM
2 months left...
hope I can make it through...haha

Zzzyun said...

haha you have a point. but at least malaysians wouldnt laught at ur surname i suppose

Andrew Jaden said...

Meh. I still prefer the latter (but taste always differs). You seem like a fan of SW. Am I right? :D

k0k s3n w4i said...

Azygous: i'm sure you'll do just fine :)

Zzzyun: actually, it was mostly malaysian kids who made fun of my surname back when i was in school. and by med students when i was in med school. same difference.

Andrew Jaden: i won't say i'm a real fan. my dad is, but being a pop culture junkie, i'm pretty familiar with the mythos.