Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vivas & Windows

I was supposed to enumerate the causes of giddiness in a female of 85. I had managed a few, but the expectant look on the examiner's face told me he wanted more. I knew I wouldn't be able to come up with many. Even on thinking hard, the chances of any significant improvement in the number seemed slim. Besides, I was exhausted from the supremely hectic week that had gone by. But he wanted me to think. Argh! I glanced up at the teacher for a split second to detect any signs of a change of mind. But argh again! He seemed determined to extract more causes out of my empty head. If only he could see that nothing was going on in there!

I wish I could just tell him that I didn't know more. But over the years I've learnt that teachers in a medical school are exceptionally easy to offend. From bright slippers to unkempt hair, anything can be misconstrued as arrogance. And in the final 10 months of my graduation, I accidentally have managed to offend far too many of them. So I decided to shut up and try.

Fixing my gaze at the window behind the examiner, I screwed up my face in concentration hoping that the extra effort will help my brain grind back into action! Who was I kidding! My exhausted neurons had given up already. I could feel the jammed machinery. I needed a miracle to get it moving. But deep down, I didn't really care for those extra causes to ask God for one.
Okay. Giddiness. Maybe I felt a little giddy right now. Everyone feels it. This lady isn't here for that. She's got more routine complaints too. Ask me about them na! I was tempted to enter into the "why me?" phase so at least I could enjoy some self pity. I resisted. This was not the time.

No progress.

85 years old. Could it have something to do with her age. The window I had been staring at, had a nice view. A man lay on the grass chatting with a buddy. I wanted that! I'll do it the day my vivas ended. And I'll get a haircut. And I'll throw my birthday party. And I'll watch back to back episodes of friends. And I'll sleep all day long. And I'll write a blog. And I'll get my two wheeler serviced. And I'll chat a lot. And I'll listen to songs all night. And a grunt from the bed behind me brought me back to the 85 yr old giddy lady.

No progress.

Finally the quizzer changed his question. Another not-so-routine question. And I knew he wouldn't be happy with my short list anyway. So why even bother. I was tempted to look out of the window again. But I did speak out. He seemed satisfied. I was mildly amused. I could bet my little detour across the window had something to do with it.

Two more vivas. One pathetic, one surprisingly outstanding!

Two weeks of intermission-free exams were about to end. On the day of my last viva, I hadn't read at all. I just wanted the painful process to end. I didn't care how. I stood beside my patient. We were both waiting. He came. We greeted.
He asked easy. I answered easy.
He asked crooked. I answered crooked.
He asked alien. My eyes began scanning the room.

I needed a window! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Any questions?

"Sir, what's the prognosis?"

We all looked up from our notebooks. Some of us had finished taking notes, some stopped midway in their sentences. As an intimation that it was time to end the morning clinic, our professor had asked if we had any questions. Sir looked at the boy who had raised the question, then at the boy whose tummy was our area of concern this morning, at his own hands, and then back at our curious friend.

A boy lay in front of us, scanning our faces as we listened, questioned, answered and made notes about him. Thankfully he couldn't understand our jargon. The boy had a tumour supposedly. Most of our surgery patients did. It wasn't a big deal. I was calm.
But when Sir answered, my tummy gave an uncomfortable twirl. I hadn't finished writing the radiotherapy details this boy was to get. I shut my notebook. I didn't want to finish. It didn't matter anymore, anyway.

"2 months." 60 days! Just 8 Sundays?

Only last evening we had first seen this 19 year old boy. Dark, thin, confident, calm. The moment I saw him, I was sure that the composure in his body language was new. Disease tends to do that to people. He lay on a bed in the surgery ward with a few scattered lumps in his abdomen. He gave thought to every question we asked him. We had made no efforts at hiding the fact we weren't professionals yet. We were random in our method, making complete fools of ourselves! We kept forgetting to check important things. So over and over, he had to take off his just buttoned up shirt. He was patient with us. We respected him for that. This boy did everything we asked him to, no matter how inconvenient.

And as we were leaving, his father came up to us. He wanted us to revisit his kid. The wards reeked of pain and misery. We had brought a change of air for his boy that evening. I nodded with smile. I loved his boy.

The morning after, as we discussed the boy with our professor, we slowly got to know his lumps. As the clock ticked away, the confident and articulate image of him was fast being replaced by one of a helpless kid with an equally helpless father.
We couldn't look into his eyes. Couldn't return his smile. We didn't want to face his father. What would we say to him when he asks us what our professor had to say?
One answer had changed it all. I bet the kid sensed the change in mood. We were too lost to feign anything to fool him. 

As we left the room, the usual babble amongst us was missing. Everyone walked out deep in thought. 

Since then, nobody has been curious when it came to patients' prognoses. Since then, nobody's ever had any questions!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

17 again

17... thats how old I was, when you asked me to decide.
Back then I really had no clue, in you I now confide.
Architecture seemed fascinating... MBBS, the easier way.
So I chose people over sky scrapers... and, with Ma & Pa I got to stay!

Life in Sewagram was all I knew, I still went through orientation.
Met 64 new kids from far and near, as they struggled with homesickness n starvation.

In the class on day one, I sat just scribbling notes, when somebody yelled "Kalantri".
I looked up at this new professor wondering, "how the hell does he know me?!"

And then on I got used to being called out, no matter how much I tried.
Any row, any corner, wherever I sat, I simply could not hide!

There are many things others mustn't know. So I am told not to gossip.
But I am a girl with curious friends. Some things are bound to slip!

When I win, it's because I am a daughter. When I don't, its in spite of it.
All others will agree when I say, It ain't easy being a staff kid! 

Yes, won't deny that we do get some perks... Some smiles and maybe a mark or two.
But believe me it just isn't worth all the crap we are made to go through!

Don't get too sentimental, I now admit after all this emotional drama...
If 17 again, I'll still pick what I chose coz at least I get ghar ka khana! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

I run

I lay there in my bed.. wishing I had dealt with the things that I was avoiding for so long... I've drawn the sheets over my face to block any visual contact with this world. I've changed my posture for the hundredth time.. assuring myself that this one will help me doze off. I bury my face into the pillow with eyes shut tight. Nothing works. Uff! I switch on some music.. I try to pretend that the music has made me calmer...

I wake up the next morning really cheered up. Why? I just dreamt  that the all my problems have been taken care of.
The teacher i was supposed to meet two months ago for the project I am working on had himself walked to me and had assured me that all was well. No hard feelings.
The bad marks i scored in the last test were all a big calculation mistake!
The uncomfortable situation with my friend, was sorted out in a nice intelligent conversation.
(Sometimes i even make up beautiful poems in my dreams... I am smarter asleep than awake i think!)

It takes exactly the time for the walk from my bed to the bathroom mirror for this cheery lightness to fade. And as I wet my toothbrush, a soft "o crap" replaces the smile on my lips. I realize it was all a dream! Life continues to suck as it did yesterday! And then it all comes back to me..
And I know..
once again I'll have to avoid any chance of crossing paths with that teacher,
once again I'll have to think about taking classes seriously,
once again things with my friend will be as uncomfortable as ever..!

 That's it. These two are the only times in my twenty-four hours that are scheduled for guilt. The rest of the day passes by without a minute wasted on any of those worries. Everyday is all about carefree chatter and ill-timed idling .
Of course, staying with your parents (a downside for the sloth in you and upside for the sincere one) ensures a reminder a day. But that can be dealt with by picking up a quarrel every time they try to stir your conscience. (wicked eh? hehe!)You would think this girl spends so much energy trying to avoid being reminded of her procrastination, she might as well deal with things in time and be at peace. You don't think I already know that? Can't help it somehow!

Its like a giant blind-spot. I try to shove things behind it so I don't see them and so I don't worry about them either. But as I squish too many things behind this blind-spot, they begin to peep out from back there. And as they begin to wriggle out, I shove them back harder, but I know. Soon, I'll have to face them. There just isn't enough space back there to accommodate them all... for that long.

Yes, the day passes by smoothly as I steer clear of anything that might bring up the topic of what I am running from this season... but with dusk that dreadful pit in my stomach begins to overpower all my attempts at keeping it at bay...
And as I go back to bed, no matter how many postures I change,  how tightly I bury my face into the pillow, how much those sheets block my view of the world, things don't change.. day after day.. things only get worse..! I curse myself for being so irresponsible, commit that I'll face my fears the next day, and I let this fresh firm decision fool myself yet again into a series of comforting dreams, that, morning after morning, help me greet my toothbrush with a smile... :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Defenseless deities

Everybody has a favorite color. Mine is red. Everybody has a favorite TV show. Mine is FRIENDS. Everybody has a favorite writer. Mine is Rowling. Likewise, everybody has a favorite God! This, I don’t.
It’s probably the lack of thorough reading of our mythology, that keeps me from picking my favorite. Whatever the reason maybe, I beckon to him as somebody flawless, supreme, unseen.  Yet, there.  And that’s enough for me. I right, to please him. I avoid wrong to not displease him. And that disciplines my life.

Flea bitten my knowledge of mythology may be, but I always knew that Lord Krishna was a very practical man. Aren’t we all taught that means are as important as the ends?? (Wink wink at all Sewagramees!)… They were never so to him were they? Ram on the other hand was a Godlier figure. I liked him better. And so, predictably, I preferred Ramayana over Mahabharata. Yes, the fact that it is less complicated (though less interesting) was a contributory factor too!

I saw Rajneeti the other day. And it did nothing to heighten my respect for Krishna. Few days later, I saw Raavan. And I came back unhappy. It wasn’t the movie. Mani Ratnam did a fab job according to me.  But now, the god in Ram was fast being replaced by a man… Flawed, regular and imperfect.

Every time I thought about these two heroes, my temper soared. I need my God to be 100% God! Twenty four carat! No copper! (Wink at pa!)
I cursed them right left center in front of my parents… hoping them to defend the deities…  But they didn’t. Or couldn’t. (?)

Agreed, they are human avatars of god, so they are allowed to be slightly blemished. Agreed, they were being portrayed like the rest of us. But also, they are supposed to be ideal men. These two avatars are supposed to be the most righteous of humans… 

And yet somehow I feel that sapiens godlier than these gods have walked this planet...
If they haven’t, I would want to stop striving to be a better person…
And if they have, gods simply aren’t good enough and I…. will remain favorite bereft in this regard!
The later, I prefer! 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tryst with the dentist

I was 7 and in the dentist’s chair. My mom was right beside me… encouraging and egging me on.

The dentist was all sugar as she helped me into her chair. But I should have known better. She pushed into my gums something to help me not feel the pain later... It is ironic how painful this pain relieving process was. And so, teary eyed, I looked at her with disgust, at my mom with a how-could-you-do-this-to-me face and I ran! Literally ran! As soon as I found that the two women around me were engrossed in their own little talk, I slipped off the chair and I ran all the way to my home without a pause… without a backward glance… 
I sat inside the house all day with a swollen gum (all thanks to the Cruella with needles!) cursing my newly built up courage that took me to her in the first place!

I was 10 and in the dentist’s chair. My mom was right beside me… encouraging and egging me on.

This time the dentist was a student. And not a smart one. He tried with all his might to pull out one of my canines.  Heavens know what problem he had with it! Thankfully, the canine refused. This time I didn’t have to run back home. My mom brought me home herself! I think she, like me, saw how stupid the guy was. I think she, like me, could see no sense in pulling out a perfectly healthy tooth. 
I lived with a scarred gum for a month… again cursing my courage!

I was 14 and not in the dentist’s chair. My mom was trying to convince me to visit the dentist to get braces like everyone around me was. But I knew better.
Despite her futile attempts to make me see reason, I didn’t hate my gums enough to let another person meddle with them.

I am 20 and in the dentist’s chair! (Yeah!)  And my mom hasn’t edged me on this time!!

No, I am not that beauty conscious. No, I am not a big fan of the perfect smile. No, my repulsion for dentists hasn’t dwindled one bit.  So what brought back the long lost courage??
One notorious canine has been creating mayhem in my mouth. So helpless and horrified, I had to visit another one of them.
Contrary to what people told me, the procedure isn’t painful, fits my schedule and lets me eat whatever I like! So far so good..!

The new dentist isn’t sugar toothed or stupid. That is… nothing like my previous encounters. I like this cake! And here’s the cherry- it’s been two months since I’ve been flaunting steel over my dentition… And yet somehow my gums are neither swollen, nor bruised! :)