To sir, with love…
“I will not go. This is not happening. I am not going to be a doctor. Doctors lead dull, insipid lives. I want more zing. I am carved to be a journalist or better still, an actor”. Typical ‘Apoorva ranting’ before she joined medicine. My father and mother couldn’t take it anymore. They didn’t understand it much either. What was this now? Last minute jitters about commitment to a particular course of life or genuine case of interest lying somewhere else? Career counselors were consulted, literary figures and theatre personalities spoken to. All of them were as confused about my true calling as my parents. So the immediate solution was to give medical college a shot for a year and then decide.
I fussed about joining on the first day of the welcome for the new batch in the college. The thoughts “what the hell am I doing here?” “I want to run away someplace” kept drifting through my mind. First day of dissection- he walked in. I looked again, “Dad?! What is he doing here”? Then I realized my mistake; this was Dr A V K. professor of anatomy. He smiled warmly and began, “We will be reading Cunningham manual volume 1. Apoorva will read for all of us.” Shy and out of place that I was feeling, I was immediately startled. “How does he know my name”? “Probably read my badge”. I began reading for our table. Then he began to do what he is probably born to do… he spoke. We stood enthralled. My scientific mind kicked in. Something awoke inside me. That something which had been put to sleep for 3 months… I was asking questions, he answered with eloquence to my gawky, unsure and what I thought were stupid questions. He asked us if we were bored, and we screamed in protest ‘NO!’ my friend beside me even added in an undertone “its very interesting”. And here he was, only telling us about the difference between inversion-eversion and pronation-supination of the foot. Little did we know what a genius we had for a teacher!
For the months that followed, this man was the father figure of every single student. He rapidly graduated from being plain warm to godly. His discussions of the subject, right from the palm’s intricate anatomy to the gross structures of the brain, his way of questioning and answering, his questions that achieved their objective each time. He made us think. He made us read and he made us understand the beauty of the human body. All students, whether interested in anatomy or not clamored for his attention, which he readily gave. No student was or will ever leave from his presence, without a smile. Every student under him has named only him as his favorite teacher. Every student ever to come will name him such. He is an open book, ready to reveal every aspect about himself. Every parent knew “the anatomy professor AVK”. The phenomenon that grips every 1st year SDM college student.
‘Apoorva ranting” had not disappeared completely. Who better than A V K sir in who I could confide? He looked at me weeping silently and said “ you are only confused and sensitive, please do not leave medicine. You have chosen the right profession. Believe me. ” He asked me to read one of the mother’s compositions. I read it with full sincerity and thanked him. That day, like so many others after talking to him, I came back home much lighter.
Over the year, A V K sir has helped me in millions of ways knowingly or sometimes unknowingly. Be it the time he gave me something he owned, to the time he cured of my ‘incurable awe’ of older people. I used to be uneasily tongue tied with elders. True I used to talk, but used to be uneasy. He cured me of it. He taught me how to be calm, how to be spiritual, how to pray, how to lead a humble life. He endears himself to his students in a way that is overwhelming. A genius at his work, he plays the harmonica and sketches in a matter of minutes. His anatomy diagrams always get a collective gasp of awe. Its an honour to be his student, to learn from him so many things.
As much as he has revealed about himself, I cannot claim to know him fully at all. I have but barely scratched the surface.
My friend always tells me I look like his daughter. Maybe I do. After all he looks like my father. Didn’t I confuse him for my father long ago on that fateful first day?
And oh yes, I want to be a doctor.