“Jake, Jake, are you with us?” Linda, the director shouted in my in-ear monitor waking me up from my wonderland. I smiled at the cameras as the makeup artist polished her work. I was scheduled for the next performance in the annual music award and I could hear the crowd going wild, baying for my appearance.
Anyway, before I run away, let me not leave you in suspense as you may be my next subscriber. My money may be in your wallet and I do not like to burn bridges. Jamaican artist Shaggy once sang that “I bet you wish you never burn that bridge… climbing up the ladder you better watch your steps... be careful of the people you disrespect.”
My name is Jake, four years ago I used to wear a white lab coat while carrying a stethoscope. Your guess is as good as mine. I was a cardiothoracic surgeon and one of the best in the country. For that, you can cross-check with any medical website. Haa, you see, some of us need to brag a little about our achievements. Or are they milestones?
Cardiothoracic surgeons generally perform surgery of the heart and chest. However, cardiac surgery is a demanding, high-pressure field. Having the right temperament and good people skills is as vital as having the surgeon skills that we -ooh let me say they - spend years of training to master. It's a challenging, difficult career, but as a heart surgeon, one saves a lot of lives.
I was born into a house full of medics. My mother was a nurse - now retired, my father is still a practising occupational therapist, my sister is a psychologist, my brother is a lawyer but a trained psychologist. These are geniuses and professionals who are dedicated to the field.
When I joined Form 1, of course after scoring 430 marks, my mother - who was more attentive to our studies than our father - ensured that she created some private time to hold private talks with the principal. Just to describe her a little bit but please stay focused on my story as I may tend to deviate and talk a lot about her for her story is worth a whole novel. You understand these African mothers right?
She is a prayerful woman, a disciplinarian who would even beat us when we reported to her that the neighbour's kid had smacked us. “Did I send you to play at the neighbour’s house? You have a home huh? Or you want me to argue and fight with his mother?” That’s my mother and we loved her as she gave us the best and wanted the best for us.
At the principal's office, she dedicated me to God’s hands and looked at the principal's eyes. “This one will be a doctor. Ensure that he selects sciences and performs well on Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English.” The principal used her phrase to crack jokes in all parents' events throughout the years.
I scored a clean A and I was almost among those read on TV by the Education Minister during the release of the KCSE exams. In fact, I was given full attention and interviews by local vernacular stations for being among the top performers.
Six months later I joined a city university to study medicine even though I tried to convince my parents that I was not up for it. “You will earn well and your life will be secured. All of us are doctors and that is what you will become,” My dad sternly reminded me.
I couldn’t object as I wasn’t paying my own fees. I had to live my parent’s dreams. However, I used to jot down some songs in my diary and would from time to time sing to Doreen, my wife - then my girlfriend. She loved my songs, especially when I sang to soothe her whenever she was angry or I had messed up.
“You know that voice really calms me right? You should sing one day. I remember your mother used to sing in choirs and you told me that she sang for the President at the State House, right?” Dee (her nickname) joked about it.
On my graduation day, my whole village was in attendance. Buses parked with gifts and garlands (wreath of flowers) and lots of food. “You made it my son. I am so proud of you,” Mum said as we snapped photos.
I was smiling and excited but deep inside I was afraid of the next phase of life. Would I be happy? I was so worried but was afraid of telling them. I wasn’t even sure whether to face my demons or quit. Wouldn’t I have wasted my six years in school, my parent’s money?
Being so brilliant, I landed a job with ease. Maybe this was my career all along. Or let me say my mother’s prayers guided me and I should not have second-guessed her. I worked for two years, saving lives and losing some.
Washing the blood from my hands after surgery and attending therapy classes after losing patients. Hugging family members as they cry on my shoulders. Partying with my clients and receiving gifts after saving lives. Rushing to the hospital at 2 am for emergencies and listening to cases day in and day out.
By the way, I used to earn a six-figure salary and had accomplished all life’s goals. My wife and I had two children. I was driving a high-end car, had my own home but I was not happy. I felt like a part of me was missing.
On one Saturday evening, my car broke near a church in Hurlingham where I had taken Dee out. As we waited for the mechanic, she asked us to join a newly wedded couple who were celebrating their day at the reception. We sat at the far end, her hand held in mine as we admired the event.
“I love you Dee and I will marry you. In fact, we shall have a bigger event than this one,” I said as she smiled and rested her head on my shoulders. The DJ announced that the musician set to perform was stranded in the traffic hence there won’t be a live performance for the day, to the bewilderment of the couple.
“You can do it, babe,” Dee whispered but I was reluctant. She wanted me to sing at an event where I was a total stranger. She pushed me to it and I volunteered. Anyways, the mechanic was stuck in traffic too.
We synced with the band and it was amazing entertaining strangers. I couldn’t believe I was the one singing on the stage. I even got the chance to do my own originals and they were astounded by the gift I possessed. Furthermore, they were shocked that I was just a passer-by and hadn’t been invited.
A little chit-chat with the groom changed my life. I narrated reasons why I had never ventured into music and why I wasn’t happy with my career. “Young man, don’t waste your life. Check out this amazing platform called Craydel and follow your dreams,” he advised.
Craydel is a platform offering access to career guidance, courses and institutions across Africa and the world. The groom stated that the platform offers a scientific career match assessment to help rethink career choices.
He assisted me to log into the website and ensured that I directly went to the career guidance section. The Career Match Assessment has been meticulously designed by a panel of experienced clinical psychologists and career counsellors. The assessment is based on scientific psychometric models that are suitable for individuals from any age group who are looking to discover or rediscover their ideal career options.
“How much should we pay you for performing tonight? You saved our day,” the groom asked as he walked Dee and I to our fixed car. “Nothing! We enjoyed the night and your introduction to Craydel has changed my life. I know what to do with my life,” I said before we exchanged contacts. Some chance encounters are life-saving.
I browsed the courses and settled on studying music. And yes I quit my job. On Craydel, I clicked the “Buy Online” and left my details for the team to contact me. Four years later I am one of the most followed musicians in Kenya, an award-winning artist.
My parents supported me and even introduced my relatives to Craydel. “We have to change this narrative where the process of making career, course and university choices remains guided by peer groups, family and societal pressures and biases,” my mother acknowledged.
Let me run and perform my hit songs. Linda will be mad with me as I have kept the fans waiting. I can feel the adrenaline but seeing Dee and my kids in the audience is enough to calm me down. Oh! I almost forgot. Dee and I are getting married after dating for 12 years and I will send you all an invitation card. Don’t ask me why it has taken 12 years haa! That’s a story for another day.