I never knew if I wanted to be a doctor. Just like any other teenager growing up in 90s in India. I had two career options. If you are good at Maths, you become an engineer. If not you try your hand at becoming a doctor. I wasn’t bad at Maths, though I can say this only in retrospect. At that time, Maths would gave me cold feet. I ended up choosing Biology and preparing for medical entrance. While in my 12th I developed a love for chemistry and all I wanted was to do something in chemistry.
While waiting for my entrance results, I filled in forms for Bsc (Hons) in chemistry at PU, Chd. I was clear I couldn’t sit and give repeat attempts for medical entrance. I come from a very small town in Himachal pradesh and at that time there were very few students who cleared the coveted test. I had seen people sitting and preparing for test year after year and I didn’t want to be in those shoes. Fortunately or unfortunately, I managed to clear the test in 1st attempt and grabbed a seat in far away Maharashtra.
My parents with pride in their hearts undertook the long journey via bus to Chandigarh. An overnight stay in the city and next morning another bus journey to Ambala junction to catch the train. A 24 HR train journey took me to the place which shaped my initial medical education. Believe me, I was more excited about the train journey than about going to college in that far off state. It was my first train journey and that too overnight. I absolutely enjoyed the scenery outside my window, hopping off at stations and the shout of hawkers selling tea and snacks. Over the years, the Nanded express was an indispensable part of our lives. Friendships made and broken! Hilarious to embarrassing moments and the long journey back home still bring smiles on my face. Whether we could get a confirmed booking or not, the entire gang of 20 could travel on a mere 3 /4 berths, staying awake all night and getting rebuked by elderly uncles and aunties.
I had always been excited to go to hostel and exploring being independent so unlike many I didn’t feel depressed because of hostel. Yet, I was an introvert and making friends was a challenge which I overcame many years later after completing my graduation.
Next big elephant was Ragging. The first night we were called by Seniors, I started crying when they asked us to laugh, and thus I became the “Meena Kumari” of my batch. Later, the same seniors became our best friends and guided us through our journey in the medical world.
The most dramatic part of a medical college for a 1st year, however is the Anatomy dissection Hall. The 1st day after lunch we preceded towards the Anatomy dissection Hall on the 3rd floor of our college building. It was a huge hall with almost 30 dissection tables. All the tables had a cadaver placed on it and the air was full of smell of formalin. The cadavers do not look like a dead person but more like hardened skeletons with skin and everything else hardened and intact. For a newbie, these can be scary and disgusting. Yet if do not learn to control your emotions, you can never be a good doctor.
I had joined a bit late so the class was already accustomed to dissecting. Well, I didn’t faint, nor I ran away but I never got to liking the dissection part. Cutting rats in 12th was something I had done with great vigor and interest but never could bring myself to match many others who took it like a pro in that big dissection room. Throughout the year, each afternoon from 2 to 5 spent in the dissecting room, we lay open the muscles of the arms and legs. We opened the chest, and held the heart and lungs in our hands, learning the important landmarks. We opened the abdomen and tried to track the journey of food and water. Finally we lay open the skull to expose the brain and all the maladies of mankind.
Each student gets allocated to a group who dissect the cadaver together. Also each student is given a set of bones which become our companion for the whole year. While others may find it revolting and unhygienic, we have slept with bones in our bed and even have had food while revising them. Yuck! now I can say that, but at that time they were our most important possession. The 1st holidays I went home for Diwali and i took the entire set of bones home. My mom was so scared of having a dead person’s bones inside the house that she just deposited them in a trunk to keep the home free of any supernatural influence/ghosts.
Throughout the year, we kept trying to memorise the Desi Gray’s Anatomy aka B.D Chaurasia. Finally the time for exams came and just a day before, I chickened out. The same seniors who had ragged us came to my rescue. One of the seniors sat besides me till 1 am at night helping me revise, easing my tension. Like a mom, she made me sleep so that I could write my exam. Morning woke me up at 5am and gave me summary of the topics I could not complete. Had it not been for that sweet friend, I would have never done my 1st year.
I am participating in #A2Z2021 hosted by Blogchatter. Blogchatter community binds all the Indian bloggers and has put blogging at a forefront. You can visit them at https://theblogchatter.com