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During the career decision phase of life, a common phrase that youngsters of some of the parts of native Karnataka keep hearing is “Ella bitta bhangi netta”. This means ‘left everything and planted cannabis. Not sure what people who depend on Cannabis for their livelihood would feel, but I know how I felt. As an intimidated response, I would say “Bhangi business adru nishteyinda madthini”, which meant ‘I will do the cannabis business with dedication’.

If you are wondering why I am talking about business and cannabis, at that age of post PUC/12th, one question everyone would ask is ‘Engineering Or medical?’. These were thought to be the creamy layers in the society. With many doctors and engineers in the family, I had other plans. I was always inclined towards nature, animals and my father’s profession, i.e., Forest Department. Spent all my school holidays visiting places with abundant nature to explore or spend time in the forest department administrative activities by my father and his colleague’s company.

Some of the best times of my life are spent at his office taking care of the tamed elephants, patrolling the forest, anti-poaching camp stays and so on. Do not think that I was having a luxury service, but I was an unpaid labor to my father in Swatchch Bharat Abhiyan, Congress (not INC but a kind of weed that is present in forest areas) Mukth Forest and also to educate junior colleagues about wild-life. I enjoyed the attention and was even the safari guide for tourists. With all these fantastic experiences in the wild, had more inclination to be closer to the wild, professionally.

In 2006, finally that time of the year came where uncertainty, anxiety and confusion of whom to listen to would be there in every passing out student and their parents’ mind. Interestingly, although I never asked my father “what he wants me to do?”, I don’t remember any discussion regarding career options. Not his fault though, we were in boarding schools for major part of our education. I also feel that my father had conveniently put the responsibility of our success with ourselves. That’s the best way of child management, I thought.

Well, instead of being confused, I confused everyone else. I gave options to my parents and others. I applied to Veterinary Science, Forestry and CET. Now tell me, what was the chance of me getting CET ranking under 1000 for both the streams? Close to nil. I was well aware of that. I had already figured out that I am a manipulator. Then it was easy. Only thing I wanted to not to do is Engineering. Other things I wouldn’t clear anyways. If not CET, then I will be a Vet, I planned. For my mother’s sake, even went for namesake coaching. My only achievement of going to coaching is my bench mate got 56th rank in CET. Can you believe that there are that many college seats as the ranks go for engineering? One seat had my name and I got admission as well. This is that non-refundable admission which my mother still reminds me of. One of my uncles had a smirky look on his face and signaled “Now?”. I had not given up. And that’s when another uncle called and asked me to check out Dr. S. R. C Institute of Speech and Hearing.

Now the story gets even better. Guess who comes with me to see the college? My two unmarried engineer brothers. They will tell a different version, but this is mine. They liked the college and the reason was glamorous. Now I saw that chance, and I had already made two engineers as my allies. It is now or never, I thought. In a couple hours, deposit was made and I was ready for the first day at Ambedkar College for the anatomy class. Had heard about speech and hearing when I was in school. But never in my life I had thought that I would be a Speech-Language Pathologist. I am sure many would connect with this. Never (almost never, except in an interview I was carrying Zoology book if I don’t get selected) thought to go back because I believed in

“Ella bitta bhangi netta, “Bhangi business adru nishteyinda madthini”.

Now I am here as an SLP, wishing all the SLPs a happy world SLP day!! The world needs you all for a better Communication and Swallowing!! The accidents don't end here. There are lot more to share and relive those moments!!

-Prasanna Hegde

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