I am a doctor. But I had never really dreamt of becoming one. Human body has always fascinated me. But i have never liked sickness ( nobody like sickness ), so the prospect of having to see sick people all the time seemed repelling to me. Besides, meeting and talking to new people has always made me nervous. And it so happens that in India, almost every middle class family dreams of their kids becoming an engineer or a doctor, and I also got caught up in these dreams, without knowing what they really meant. I cleared the medical entrance in my first attempt and a seat awaited me in the medical college of my hometown, just a few kilometres away. What more could one ask for? So that meant that I would be crazy not to take that seat. So I joined medical college…
When we first entered our classrooms, we were just struck by their massiveness.. ( you may remember the huge halls in Munnabhai MBBS movie). In the beginning all would try to get seats in the first 3 rows. Towards the end of the year, it would be scramble for the last few rows. We had to run from one hall to the next for the lectures. Classes would start by 8 in the morning. So we had to get ready by 7 so as to catch the college bus at 7:15, and make a dash to reach the lecture halls.
In first year, we are taught the basic subjects, and that meant we had to spend 3 hours a day dissecting dead bodies. A few classmates fainted right away in the first dissection class. Because mind you, there is a very strong smell inside, but by the year end we got pretty used to to it. There were the nerdy ones who always volunteered to do the dissection, and the others who would sit at the foot of the cadaver, busy minding their own business.
Each of us had in our possession a set of real human bones. An entire skeleton resting under our beds. Sometimes i have wondered about the life of those persons who have gifted their bodies and bones to help us learn.
Working with cadavers and bones was alright. What was more alarming was having to do experiments with live frogs!!! We were supposed to paralyse them so that they don’t hop away but were still alive. It sounds cruel I know. Still, the dead and dying ones have given us valuable lessons about living…
Days were spent trying to memorise the names of so many muscles in various parts of the body, the blood vessels and nerves supplying them, their relations to each other. The physiology of every system in the body, the various chemical reactions at the cellular level were learnt in detail.
This human body is such a masterpiece of creation. Every cell in itself is perfection. And these cells work in sync to create organs and tissues, all doing their work with so much perfection that we dont even know what is happening in our own bodies. It’s only when something goes out of sync does it attract our attention.
But i was too busy trying to cram things in, that it didnt really seem fascinating at that time, only difficult and boring. We, the brightest of brains who had always been toppers in school found ourselves failing miserably in our exams. Half of the class of 200 students would fail in the internal assessment. Actually we didn’t even have the fifty percent internal assessment marks to write our university exams. Somehow, our teachers helped us out, and I made it through in university exams, cleared my first year…
(…to be continued)

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Divya Pai

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