Published February 12th 2019
Climbing the Tree ... and Falling
"This memoir has a vividness and an immediacy ... a series of events that range from high humour to deep tragedy, all told accurately and movingly." Brig. M. Singh
Climbing the Tree ... and falling
A memoir by M.A. Wajed
When Mohammed Wajed was a child in pre-Partition India, he lived in a poor village, with minimal facilities and a subsistence economy. With his friends, he used to climb to the top of the mango trees for fun, but it wasn’t much fun when one of them fell and suffered serious injuries.
Mohammed never dreamt that he might climb to the top of the professional tree as a doctor in the UK, but with sheer persistence and the dedication of his parents, he managed to go to secondary school, then medical school in what became Bangladesh, and finally come to the UK in the 1960s to work in the NHS.
In the earliest days of emigration from the Indian subcontinent, Mohammed believed that the streets would be paved with gold, but the truth was a big shock. Unthinking racism was everywhere, from trying to find accommodation, to patients who wouldn’t be treated by a ‘coloured’ doctor. And meanwhile, as he tried to climb the tree and make a life for himself and his wife in the UK, pressures from relatives at home, living in a culture where they saw it as their right to demand that richer relatives pay for family weddings, buy new houses or mend old ones, meant that he was even poorer than other junior doctors surviving on an NHS salary.
But eventually, Mohammed reached the top of the tree and became a consultant in a large hospital, with a nice house and a loving family. But this was not to last. In the final section of the book, Mohammed describes the life-shattering event which destroyed his happiness and made him question his Muslim faith. The fall from the tree that affected Mohammed Wajed’s life so profoundly could have happened to anyone, but few people would have addressed the feelings of despair and the way his life was transformed with the honesty and perception Dr Wajed shows in this book.