Perseverance in routine, ‘boring’, everyday work is the main building block of great things. A lesson I learnt from my mother.
You can say that I was always a very fickle minded person with no specific aim in life. My parents never did really worry about what I really wanted from life because they believed that ‘time shall bind me to my destiny’.
But this question when asked in school always made me nervous. “What’s your aim in Life?”
Every friend of mine had a specific answer to that. Some said I want to be a doctor, some to be an engineer and some teachers. Because in the late 90’s that’s the three specific aims which were very prominent, and every family wanted to have if not a doctor or an engineer, then at least a teacher in their family.
I still remember that when I was in 8th Standard a teacher of mine had asked me the question, “What’s your aim in life Joyeeta?” I had given what might probably be the silliest answer, “I want to run a lab”. The teacher asked, “What Lab?” I had answered shrugging my shoulders, “No, idea”. I had even laughed along with the whole class and probably had annoyed the teacher too for he had thought it was one of my pranks.
So, when anyone asked me this question the only answer I had was, “I want to have a lab”. God knows from where this weird idea had come to my mind. May be because I had seen my father working in his big laboratory in the Hospital. That microscope of his has always fascinated me from the very first day I remember seeing the chloroplasts (green plant cells which contains chlorophyll and in which photosynthesis takes place).
Having my own lab was certainly something I wanted for real, but how, I had no idea. After giving my 10th exams my Baba said, “Since there is nothing to do for the next three months come along with me to my laboratory and help me out with washing”.
I thought it would be fun helping Baba in his laboratory. But, it wasn’t. For about a week I enjoyed helping his helper wash the test-tubes, conical flasks, petri-plates and slides wearing those disposable white globes. But, after a week I became restless because I wanted to sit in his chair and look through the microscope lenses.
Baba used to look at my washing and say, “Patience, Joyee patience. Clean them again. They aren’t clean”. Washing and rewashing made me feel dull now and I started thinking that Baba was torturing me.
I told Baba, “I don’t want to do this. Give me some other work”.
He said, “You are still not fit for any other laboratory work.”
I said, “Then, I am done with this I don’t like this laboratory work”.
Baba said, “But, you always wanted to have a laboratory! So what happened now?”
I just answered, “You make me only wash your glass-wares and never allow me to see through the microscope. I want to see through the microscope. Not just wash the glass wares and prepare the urine samples. Yuk!”
Baba said, “If you don’t do those how will you be able to prepare the samples and see them through microscope?”
I just flicked my eyes, made faces and said, “If that’s the reason, why don’t you do the washing and then prepare the samples and see them through the microscope?”
“Because I am done with all those. I have worked hard throughout these long years of training and only now come to this position where I just need to see through the microscope and give my signatures. Perseverance, Joyeeta Talukdar! That’s what you are lacking right now.”
These answers of his were going above my teenage head just like big bouncers. He got that. Comfortably he sat down on his easy chair in the lab and asked me to sit in one of his stools just beside his microscope table. “Tempting me!” said my mind, but then I turned my head towards him to listen.
“Follow your ma, Joyee. Only then can you turn your dream of running a lab into reality”.
I made faces again for literally I didn’t understand what he was talking about. Still I preferred to listen to it, as the alternative was washing the glass wares again, and I was in no mood in doing that.
Baba continued, “See how she does the same work again and again everyday without even complaining. She knows what to do at the perfect time, which masala to put in the vegetable she is cooking, and at what time to make it taste perfect. Doing what you and your bhai require during specific times. Does she ever complain?”
I said, “So?”
Baba, “That’s Perseverance. She knows which thing is where in her home, specifically in the kitchen and she is so perfect in it that even with closed eyes now she can take things out and prepare a dish for us all. This perseverance is because of practice and same is this laboratory work where it is like a kitchen where you need to be perfect with your recipe of doing work.”
That day I never really understood what Baba was talking about but after ten years when I and my friend S. Sandhya were given the responsibility of establishing the laboratory by Dr. Bikul Das this very lesson of Baba had helped us a lot.
It has been four years since we have established this animal cell culture laboratory and mice facility center and everyday when we go for doing the routine work I remember those very words of Baba, “routine laboratory work is like kitchen work where you need to know well the recipe you are going to prepare so that the you have some results in your hands no matter good or bad.”
The same lesson has been taught by my teacher Dr Bikul on the very first day of our practical training, where he said, “Laboratory work is just like Kitchen work where you need to know about your recipe constituents. Those having kitchen skills will find it easier to make things work in the laboratory.”
So every day when I get into the laboratory and find it tough to do the same routine work again and again I remind myself of my Ma who perfectly manages to cook food for every one of us, although it’s one of the jobs she hates the most but yet has perseverance to do it every day. And Yes, I am proud to say that in this scientific world today I stand tall because I follow my Ma every day.
Become a premium user on Women’s Web and get access to exclusive content for women, plus useful Women’s Web events and resources in your city.
Image source: flickr, used for representational purposes only.