Rob stood looking down at the sea. The medical school year book had said that he was the one most likely to become a world-famous professor. He scanned the endless blue water under a hot cloudless sky. He had been imagining this day since he was a grubby child in India, staring dumbstruck at pictures of the Barrier Reef, emus and sharks in the battered book given to him by a visiting relative.
He had arrived in Britain at the age of twelve but soon overtook the other pupils. He had little choice when the school head of year shortened his name from Rubinder to Rob. The name stuck and he grew accustomed to it. The anglicisation helped him become more invisible and almost certainly helped him go under the radar when the universities were selecting pupils, it being the early eighties. Rob became the first child from the school to gain entry into Medical School.
Racially, people found him hard to place. They knew he was not Caucasian but wondered whether he was of mixed heritage or possibly middle Eastern. He was, in fact, from Northern India with the fair skin of the mountain dwellers, a striking blank canvas for the serious dark eyes and hair. He was a petite but well-proportioned man, so it was only when people stood next to him that they realized how small he really was, his physique matching the hushed voice that spoke only the bare minimum of words.
Academia came naturally to him, yet his fatigue of rote learning meant that early on he was mistaken for being a bit slow. His parents were well aware of his sharp intellect and said he should become a doctor. He knew that his down-trodden, inner-city school teachers wouldn’t go out of their way to give him good references for university, so he quietly persuaded the school secretary to polish up his references, and the adjustment of the odd word here and there did the job nicely.
He won awards during the first two years at medical school, excelling at listing endless causes of endless signs and symptoms. Once the training moved onto the hospital wards, however, he knew that he was not cut out for a lifetime of listening to people’s ills. He was saved the agony of telling his parents that he didn’t want to be a doctor all his life, when they died in a bus full of pilgrims that slipped off the edge of a mountain road on a hairpin bend during a trip to a mountain temple.
He stood at the edge of the world, the sea, sky and sun blurred into a vast horizon. A roar thundered from the bottom of his lungs like an awakening volcano spewing out his compressed emotions. Pulling the goggles onto his face he slipped into the luminescent water with barely a ripple.