Gayatri Ramesh

Love, Always  is a collection of stories about how time and distance significantly alters the terrain of family and belonging. In this series, we explore the lives of three individuals on the verge of adulthood, who offer us a deeper glimpse into their struggles and desires.

Gayatri is a 24 year old medical student, currently majoring in Podiatry at the University of Western Australia. She grew up in Singapore and moved to Perth at the age of 16. She has also spent the last two years in Brisbane. As an international student, she opens up about being homesick, maintaining her strong familial ties and shares her dreams and aspirations in regard to creating a better life for her and her family.

Click play to listen to Gayatri’s story or read the transcript below.

 

 

My name is Gayatri, people usually call me G, I’m 24 years old, and I study medicine, specializing in podiatry. I grew up in Singapore and I moved to Perth at the age of 16, after my Cambridge O level examinations. I did Year 12 for 6 months, and then started University.

At the start, maybe for the first month or so, it gave me culture shock. There were many people around. I guess—from a social perspective, I think—you can say that people here are very, very different, compared to back at home. People here are much more friendlier, much more outspoken, much more loving in a way. I think they’re very respectful, some people here. And you know, I didn’t know about the Indigenous culture until I got to Australia, so that kind of blew my mind, compared to Singapore, yeah.

Actually to be honest, there was no significant struggle, but yes, there was a bit of a problem with how I study probably, because the pace here is really fast. People are already taught so much at a very young age, and then when you get to Uni, the lecturers obviously expect you to know your stuff well. And yeah, to be prepared for the future I guess, but not really any struggles—but obviously being homesick, because you’re away from home. It kinda, like, made me feel like I miss my parents even more and more.

Family Dynamics

So, in my family, there’s five of us: mum, dad, brother, and sister—and I’m the oldest. In my family, my dad and mum, they’re really, really, very strict. So, my dad is always—while he was growing up, my mum and dad, both of them didn’t have any opportunities to study, have a good education of course. I guess my dad was always into soccer, and my mum was doing accounts and had to support her family, so they didn’t really have the opportunity. My mum, she gave her opportunity to her sister, to study better.

For my brother and sister—because they’re younger—so we are always very close. Although we have arguments or whatsoever, we will solve it within the day, or the next day. We don’t like to hold grudges or whatsoever. We have a very good communication system, whereby we just talk our feelings out. Like my brother and sister can share with me stuff, my parents can express to me stuff, I can always share my problems with my parents, and I really like the connection that we have. Its really good, it makes me feel like I don’t need any friends, I just need family.

Uprooted

I think when I moved to Perth, I didn’t miss them [parents] as much, because I was going back to Singapore very often. Every once a month, or two months, I would just go back—because my aunt would make me go back to see my parents and family, and especially my grandma. She’s no longer here anymore, but I used to go back for my grandma, to be honest. But I think, ever since I moved to Brisbane, where I had no family there, I had to start from the bottom. And I guess the first few weeks were really the toughest weeks of my life because I did not know anybody. Literally, all I could think of, was to just depend on my housemates. And that’s why I always think, like, that’s the best memories ever, because I didn’t know anyone and I started from the bottom, and now I have friends like family in Brisbane. And that’s the biggest thing that I actually achieved in Brisbane, having contacts—and that’s when I missed my mum and dad—because I grew closer to them, I think, when I was in Brisbane. But I’ve always been close to my mum and dad.

Sharing Secrets

In terms of secrets, I’m very close to my mum. In terms of studies, I’m close to my dad. Because he wants the best for me and for my siblings. I feel like my dad and I make very good gossip buddies. Whenever he has gossip, he will share it with me. And whenever I have gossip, I will share it with him. An example? Like, if I’m not happy with something that’s happened in the family, or if I’m not happy with one of my cousins, or if I’m not happy with friends in general, then I’ll just tell my dad, and he’ll just bring me back on track, to focus on my study. And my mum is more, like, I can tell her anything, literally anything in my life. It’s pretty interesting, because right now in my heart, there’s nothing I keep inside my heart. I will always tell someone, I don’t keep things in my heart. And that’s one thing I really like about myself, to be honest, because I don’t need to worry about anything, because I know that my parents know everything. Or my best friends know everything about me. Or my boyfriend knows everything about me. So that’s one thing I’ve learnt in my life, is to not bottle up your feelings and to express it to your parents because your parents know what’s best for you.

I mean, I’m happy that I have that connection with my mum and dad, because not many people these days have that.

The Letter

‘Dear mum and dad, there are not enough words to describe how thankful I am to the both of you. You both have raised us three: me, Shivani and Ashvinn with so much love and affection. You both have taught us so much and going away to Australia to study has made me realize how much you both mean to me. Thank you for your amazing amount of love, that I probably don’t even deserve. Thank you for not giving up on me, even when I doubted myself of getting a place in medical school. Without your moral support, I didn’t think I will be where I am today. Thank you for listening to me cry on the phone when things just get so hard with uni, and always picking up my calls no matter what time of the day and no matter what reason. When the road gets tough, I know I can always count on you both. Thank you for knocking some sense into me when I’m acting rash. Thank you for working so, so, so hard to be able to support us on our education journey. Many people do not have a close relationship with their parents or even with their family, however, I’m so blessed to be able to tell everyone that you both are my bestest friends ever. Thank you for giving me the life every child deserves and being such wonderful parents. I cannot wait to finally become a doctor or a surgeon to make you both enjoy life to the fullest, that you both deserve. I cannot wait till the day comes where we will not have to worry about making ends meet and just have a peaceful and happy life. I promise to make you both proud always, and to always follow your teachings. Lastly, I realized I did not thank you both enough for everything, and for that I apologise. If I’ve learned anything from being away from both of you, it is that you both are the most important people in my life and I love you both more than anything.’

A scanned document of Gayatri's letter to her parents. She has drawn a picture of her family in the letter.A scanned document of Gayatri's letter to her parents. She has drawn a picture of her family in the letter.

Best and Worst Memories

My worst memory led to the best of me. So the worst memory was when I was in Primary 6, when I was 12 years old, I don’t know if you guys know what is ‘Primary’ in Australia but when I was 12 years old, I came home with really horrible, horrendous results—and I was from the top primary school, which is Raffles Girl’s School. Everybody just walked out of the door, feeling so happy and elated, and I’m just like, ‘Screw my life,’ because I got a really bad aggregate score and I had to—I was from a girls primary school—so I had to go to a mixed secondary school, which is boys and girls, and I really disliked it. And my mum and dad legit, like, I mean, they didn’t even talk to me for days. My mum cried, and my dad cried and said, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I do, what have I done to you, to deserve this, why are you doing this to us? So you’re not gonna make our hopes and dreams come true? Are we meant to work all our life? Are we meant to see our children just be a failure?’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m not gonna let you guys think like that of me, and I’m not gonna do that to you.’ And I started from then, oh my gosh, my life changed, from that day, and I realized that I’m such a—I’m a winner, I’m a fighter, and that’s when I realized that I started becoming the top in school, top in the level.

My best memory is to always see my parents happy, my grandparents happy. Whatever I do in my life, because my grandparents—only my mum’s mum is still here—my grandparents, both my dad’s mum and dad are no longer here, and they were the ones that I was super close with in my whole life. I yearn to see them all the time. Whatever I do, I always think about them. It’s like in a flashback memory—‘You’re doing this for them.’

Dreams for the Future

I see myself becoming a surgeon. In two years time, I’ll be a doctor, and then I will definitely specialise as a surgeon. In six years time, I will be seeing myself, my parents, and my siblings in a really nice house—that I paid for—and it’s going to be an amazing house. I don’t believe in luxury—I believe in happiness more—you can have everything in this world, you can have a lot of money, you can have a lot of luxurious goods, but if you don’t have a united family, you have nothing. So I just want to be grateful, and probably six years or seven years from now, I just want to be grateful, happy, peaceful and healthy of course.

 

Copyright © 2019 Gayatri Ramesh

This story and corresponding images have been licensed to the Centre for Stories by the Storyteller. For reproduction and distribution of this story/image please contact the Centre for Stories.


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