Why did my friend tell Ei-ichi Negishi, a Nobel laureate professor, “I am two and half months pregnant now?”

I was at the national conference of the American chemical society. After attending numerous presentations, I was at a social gathering cocktail party, a fun, mix up, and refreshing network evening.
I was at the table with one of my colleagues who is now an assistant professor in the university.
All of a sudden, the late professor and Nobel laureate Ei-ichi Negishi stopped by our table.
My friend and I greeted him.
My friend immediately jumped and asked, “Professor Negishi, it’s our pleasure, you are with us this evening, can I share something with you?”
Professor Negishi replied, “yes, of course.”
“Professor, I’m two and half months pregnant now,” she mentioned.
Professor replied, “ Wow, nice, am I the first person to know after your husband?”
My friend replied, “yes.”
“Many many congratulations, you are about to enter into the most fulfilling job on the planet, mom,” Professor responded.
“Any tips professor, I know you raised two astounding daughters,” my friend added.
“In the end of the day, you and your husband’s life revolve around your kids, just keep that fresh always in your mind, it would be an amazing and thrilling experience to live by, especially being a mom and a professor at the same time” professor Negishi replied.

“By the way Sophia, you don’t become a good professor by becoming knowledgeable yourself, you become a good professor by knowing how to transfer knowledge to others effectively, and as a mom you will have an edge for the later part,” professor Negishi added.

“Thank you professor, I have one more weird question to ask you because I’ve got this golden opportunity. I’m with you this evening, I don’t know what’s coming to my mind” my friend added.
“Sure,” Professor Negishi replied.
“By any chance, could you remember, how long you and your wife didn’t talk to each other due to some kind of misunderstanding or argument or whatever it could be during your conjugal life?”
“Wow, this is difficult to answer, you are taking me long long back, of course, we had many many of those instances.”
“Well, as far as I remember, for at least 5 to 6 hours we didn’t speak, but for most of the time, I broke the silence” professor Negishi replied.
“Thank you professor, thank you for sharing,” my friend and I greeted him again saying bye when he was moving to another table .
When the professor left, I told my friend, “congratulations, am I the second person to know this secret news after your husband?”
She laughed and said, “kind of yes.”

I told my friend, “I was expecting questions related to either a chemistry project or your professor position or maybe research funding or any university related to a Nobel laureate chemistry professor, but you surprised me with unexpected directions.
You are unpredictable”.

“My friend, sometimes life takes us far from our real current standing ground, what we do everyday and what we think everyday, I guess this is what life is all about,” she expressed.

“I was the most timid person throughout my life and still I’m.
I became irritated very quickly.
I rarely felt secure and calm,” she expressed.

“My decision power had been uprooted long back.
I always felt infected and contagious.
Everything looked fictitious to me” she further added.

“I never understood what I wanted in life until I met a man whom I married 5 years ago who transformed me completely into a new me,” she expressed.

“This is not the appropriate time to share all of these but you just told me as an unpredictable person so I’ve got motivation to initiate different aspects of my life even though I’m meeting and talking to Nobel laureates and brilliant minds in our field on this beautiful evening. Nobody knows what’s inside us and what is the cause of our suffering and infection unless we express it,” she added.

“My parents always focussed on my weaknesses, they never allowed me to improve my strength.
I was very good at storytelling and map reading but they always pushed me in mathematics and statistics where I was weak.
I was weak in Spanish in high school but very good in English so my parents hired a Spanish tutor for me.
My story telling capacity got plateaued and never crossed the barrier but nobody cared.
These were my childhood memories.
I couldn’t do anything but I could reflect and connect now,” she said emotionally.

“I came from a very unusual family situation. My parents didn’t talk to each other for many years, even though we’re under the same roof.
My childhood consisted of numerous silent dinners and numerous silent lunches.
Now I’m an adult but I feel this is so awkward and unmotivated.
My parents said they didn’t divorce because of me.
Dad wanted to show his love and care for me more than my mom, and my mom wanted to show her love and care more than my dad.
They had competition to possess over me.
I never understood what they were trying to prove until very recently in my life.
I was in the middle taking advantage of both of them without knowing the chronic infection inside me.
Though I’m an adult now, my childhood memory sometimes suffocates me and is affecting my adult life,” she expressed.

“Sometimes, guilt and shame are very important to reconsider.
Many times my dad showed his guilt but never improved on his behaviour.
My mom also showed shame many times but never showed any attention around my dad, she was centered only in herself,” my friend noted.

“My dad and mom never sat together and discussed and learnt anything from each other. Both always tried to find whose fault was associated more than what was the actual truth. Finding somebody’s fault accelerates our ego but finding truth accelerates peace.
Ego and truth are very strong words but sometimes we are compelled to dissect them.
My mom was a project manager in a tech company and dad was a sales officer.
Both were immigrants to the USA from Japan, both were very exhaustive in their 30’s and 40’s, both were trying to be perfect, both were trying to be somebody else, but I had no clue who that somebody else was.”

“As far as I understand, we were somehow an upper middle class family financially, but dad was always running behind the commission rather than his annual salary.
My mom was always running behind more work performance and quick job promotion.
Relationship promotion never became a priority for my dad and mom.
My mom always complained about things that didn’t go as per her expectation.
She failed multiple times, her projects failed multiple times, and she didn’t meet her expectations multiple times, but she always complained about them.

I remember Stephen Hawking, a great physicist, cosmologist, and author who lived with the crippling disease ALS for 55 years. He has said beautifully, “people won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining,” she mentioned in a very soft voice.

“Now I learnt that once we start something, we don’t need to know it all at once.
Our complete potential and results start to appear once we trust our work.
In the end, complaining becomes so insignificant we actually don’t need it in our life.
I learned this from my husband.
At present I’m struggling to get my assistant professor position as a tenured position in my university.
I also know it’s tough because there are limited universities and limited tenure tracks, the majority of these tenured positions have already been occupied by my dad and granddad faculties.
But I’ve learned how to be calm and confident throughout the process and, most importantly, trust in me.”

“I remember, I used to come from school and I always saw either only dad or only mom at home, there were rare incidences where I saw both of them together at home at same time.
If dad were at home, he used to ask me “how was the school?” she said.
I used to say, “good”.
“Our conversation used to end and I walked towards my room.
When I came out for a snack in the kitchen, my dad was already on the phone,” she added.

“Later in life I learnt that people always do things which they want, not what they need.
Want becomes so vicious in life that we all can also gradually change our want into need if we are not conscious in our decision,” she added.

“Due to my silent home environment, I never knew the fine line between courage and confidence in my life because I never had that discussion at my home,” she said.

“Do you know the difference now?” I asked her.
She said, “I’m learning.”
“Yes, I know, I did some bungee jumpings,” she said
“That’s great, you accomplished your long quest of bungee jumping.”
“Awesome,” I added.

She said to me that once she was wrapped in a large elastic cord for the first time for bungee jumping, she was kind of senseless but she just gave up, closed her eyes and let it go.
She said, “I was really curious to know how it feels to have courage?”
She said, “I didn’t have confidence at all at the first time, it was just courage because I was shivering on the elastic cord.”

“Upto now I have done five bungee jumps, so I’ve learnt the difference between courage and confidence.
My husband has run multiple marathons.
He says that the present record of marathon is 2 hours 1 minute with Eliud Kipchoge.
But there will be somebody in the future with a lot of confidence who reaches the tipping point and will surely break the present record.
He always tells me that our life expands or shrinks whether we show courage or not, but exponential life expansion happens only when one courage turns into repetitive acts, that is the birth of confidence,” she said.

Her explanation was quite intriguing for me.

She said, “courage is an act where we don’t know the end point. We don’t know what is on the other side and how does it feel when we reach there?
But confidence is different, when we become confident, we know what is on the other side.
We gradually grow it.
Our brain can smell confidence and feel it.
Confidence is the same as our muscle, we can build it the same way as muscle.
I learned this from my husband.”

Suddenly, she received a call.
“Is this Sophia?
“Yes it is.”
“Do you have a dad named Brad in Macomb, Illinois?
“Yes, who is this, please?”
“Mr Neal, I’m Dr. Neal Kornik, calling from McDonough District Hospital, Macomb illinois. Brad was in an accident tonight. He is stable now but in critical condition.”
Sophia stood up and ran on the floor. “What happened?”
“As best we understand, madam, he was driving a car at dusk, he was making an U turn, he was hit from behind. Are you his closest relative?”
“Well, yes ….uh…well, no, I mean my mom is alive but my mom and dad don’t speak.”

I just heard what she said and how her life is leading up to now.
She cried in front of me.

She said, “Why did I tell the doctor that my dad and mom don’t speak to each other?
I don’t know, maybe my mind is working on autopilot.
It wasn’t intentional, it suddenly came in my mouth, maybe this burden is in my subconscious.”

She called her mom in Philadelphia.

“Mom, I never asked you anything in my adult life. Can I ask you something?”
Mom replied, “is everything okay Sophia”
She said, “yes.”
Her mom said, “yes, of course, you can ask.”
“Mom, it is very serious but promise me first, you won’t reject it,” she reiterated.
Her mom said, “promise.”

“Mom, my dad, your husband is in critical condition in McDonough District Hospital at Macomb, Illinois, he got in an accident. I received a call from the doctor and according to the doctor, he is stable but in critical condition. Mom, could you go right now to Macomb, Illinois and see my dad?” she said.
Her mom said, “yes.”

Next morning, my friend Sophia also took the first flight to Springfield, Illinois to go to Macomb.
Once she entered the hospital room, she saw her mom was on her dad’s bedside.
When they saw her, they both had tears in their eyes.

“Mom and dad, you might not be happy after reading this piece of content.
You might say what kind of daughter you are who shares her personal family story to the world.
Mom and dad, I’m not judging you, this my life is your gift.
Whoever I am now and wherever I stand, it’s all due to you both.
I haven’t seen god, so for me, you are on the same level, you are no different from god.
I always respect you both and I always love you both, my love and respect will remain the same no matter what, unconditional. period.

I gave permission to my good friend to write about me and my family, this is my only pure feeling that I expressed with him so that I can think and act mentally strong.
I wanted to clear my mind and body both.”

“Though I may not be 100 percent free from any judgement because I’m human with soul and mind, but trust me, I’m moving in that direction.
And I request to everybody, please, try to be free from any kind of judgement that you have.
We humans are here on earth not to judge others but to do our part of the task to make this world a beautiful place.
Who am I to judge my parents?
Actually, who am I to judge anybody else on the planet?
I always love you both, dad and mom.
I wish you both all the best.
Please, dad and mom, forgive me if I did something wrong by sharing our family story to the world,” she noted.

“My friend, I also know, your head is still running, why did I tell professor Negishi about my private news.
Professor Negishi gave us revolutionary scientific achievement in the name of Negishi reaction in 1977 when he was 42 years old.
But he got the Nobel prize at age 75, after working 33 years for the same discovery which he made when he was 42.
The mystery is that our society is weird, it only credits the work when we become old for the same work that we did when we were young.
My friend, we can learn a great lesson from professor Negishi, he is one of my heroes in my life.
I want to tell everyone that when you are young, please take risks, experiment, wander, travel, create, participate, show courage, and build confidence.
We have one life to live.
I wanted to have this conversation with you, professor Negishi, and my little one in my womb.
Believe me, he or she, I don’t know yet, is listening from my womb,” she said.

Rest in peace, wishing you peace professor Negishi.

Thank you for your time.
-Yam Timsina