By: Bazla Syed
“So, what are you into beta?” This was a middle-aged woman, a close relative of his parents.
“Aunty! I am working as a veterinarian these days, at my private clinic.”
“Veterinarian! A vet! Couldn’t you find any other good profession?” she sounded so contemptuous.
“What good is being a doctor of animals?” This was another relative, joining the conversation.
And he smiled, glancing at the hanging lights in the hall where his cousin’s wedding was in procession.
“Well, there is no good in everything for everyone. But does that mean there is no good in it for anyone? For even a single being?”
A familiar voice reverberated in his ears as he answered. Memories came rushing back.
Seven years ago, when he had seen a veterinarian for the very first time in his life, the fact had shocked him. He had never known that there existed doctors for animals but many children and young men also were unaware of the fact. Even those who were aware of it considered it a dishonour to be a vet. And how could one think of being a veterinarian living in a society where people used the term “vet doctor” to make fun of those kids who did not study.
“He doesn’t study. He’ll become a dungar doctor,” they said.
This had created a concept so widespread that being a veterinarian was considered as bringing shame to family’s name. But living among these people was his cousin who chose veterinary sciences as his field of study and was mocked by the whole family. And this was his first meeting with his cousin after he had become a professional veterinarian as he lived in another city.
“What made you choose this profession Hasan bhai? Is it a good choice to make?” This was his first question as they met.
And he smiled with the soft expression he was so familiar with. His answer was just of a single sentence.
“Certainly, there is no good in everything for everyone. But does that mean there is no good in it for anyone? For even a single being?”
A pat on his head and he moved forward leaving him behind to ponder on what he had meant. And it didn’t take him long to understand that.
A year later, one stormy night, his puppy which his veterinarian cousin had gifted him on his birthday, swallowed something poisonous. Knowing that there was no veterinarian in that city, his cousin himself got him vaccinated and checked him whenever he visited so he never felt the need of a veterinarian in the city. But right at that moment, with his cousin’s phone powered off and watching his beloved pet in pain made him realize how necessary a veterinarian was for the owner whose pet was suffering. It was really a good choice for saving a life, even if it is of an animal.
And the same night that took his pet away, lighted the flame of an ambition inside him. He decided to choose DVM as his field of study and despite laughter, mocking and taunts, he never quit.
And with each new day, the meaning of his cousin’s sentence dawned on him in entirely different ways. Be it the day when he treated the goats of a man from a village whose sole means of earning were his animals. Or be it the day when he treated a dog suffering from parvovirus infection and made its owner, a 12-year old kid, smile once again.
Be it the moment he received the first rescued stray cat, severely malnourished and dehydrated and brought it back to life. Or be it the day he found a caring owner for his first rescued cat.
Day after day, animals were treated, their owners blessing him with prayers. Stray and abandoned animals were rescued and got a new owner who they actually deserved. That thankful look in the animals’ eyes for saving their lives and grateful tears in their owners’. Not a single day did he regret his decision of taking up veterinary sciences. He was a veterinarian and proud of it. While others said love is blind, he was of the opinion that none has more seeing eyes than love. It can see the misery, the suffering and the pain. And if it was not all for the love of animals, what other reason could be there for him to get into this profession? He was an animal lover and wanted to end their sufferings. And he wanted to make sure that every animal lover became involved in whatever he was doing for the betterment of animals. Merely claiming to be an animal lover and being blind to their sufferings was not love. He was doing his best to make the world a better place for animals with the help of those who were willing to help him even a little bit. Putting a bowl of food and water outside for birds, giving a few bites to a stray cat in the street or even slowing down the car in order not to run over a stray cat or dog. His lessons to animal lovers were so simple yet a milestone to make a difference.
And whenever he was asked about his choice of profession he would proudly say, “If everyone’s going to treat humans then who’s going to take care of the animals on whom humans themselves depend and who are also living creatures? And life is life... something which is precious to humans and animals alike. Then why turn your eyes away from the sufferings of animals?”
Many accepted his answer but many were there also who did not share his views.
“Diseased animals will make you ill,” they said. “Animals are unhygienic.” Etc. etc.
Being a veterinarian he knew that if animals were kept clean they were not harmful and if worrying about being at risk, then a doctor is always at risk whether he is a doctor for humans or animals.
He could not satisfy everyone with his answers and such questions did annoy him in the beginning but gradually he became used to them. He understood that it’s hard to make everyone accept what you believe. But even if it inspires a single person, all is not lost. A change in a single person will eventually lead to a change in society but it takes time to understand that everything is not good for everyone, it’s certainly good for someone.
For you, it might be just a bowl of water you kept outside or a bowl of food you gave. For you it might be a street animal you saved from running over by your car but for those creatures, it is life itself. What if you cannot change the life for everyone but you can surely change it for one. And for that one, it matters. It really matters!