My college professors

Madhu Chawla

Dr. Madhu Chawla, a medical professional, graduated from Institute of Medical Sciences, Benaras Hindu University over 40 years ago. Her husband retired from active service last year, and the two adult sons are settled in the USA. Having satisfactorily executed domestic and professional commitments, Madhu now works, on a charitable basis, with three NGOs. Giving back to society, for Madhu, is a dream come true. She also worked with underprivileged children with Times of India, in their Teach India programme for two years.

I spent the best six years of my life at the Institute of Medical Sciences, Benares Hindu University (B.H.U), Varanasi, U.P. to earn my M.B.B.S degree. The campus is to be seen to be believed. I went in the first day full of hope, and a beaming smile on my face which got wiped off the minute I stepped into the dissection hall. We were four students to a cadaver. I met my ‘cadaver partners’ for the first time. I eventually spent a year and a half with them, with the cadaver between us.

Madhu Chawla attended Institute of Medical Sciences, B.H.U, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Time flew. We graduated from the first professional to the second and then to the third. In the first, we learnt the anatomy of the human body (remember the cadaver?), and its physiology. Our anatomy teacher was dreaded by all. To compound matters, it was a ‘dry and uninteresting subject’. Physiology was a bit better, albeit by a narrow margin! And none of the teachers appeared ‘terrors’. Both subjects covered huge details. Daunting, to say the least! Also involved a great deal of mugging. I often chastised myself for trying so hard to reach medical college, that too, one of the best in the country.

In the second, we were grilled with pathology, microbiology, and preventive and social medicine. We were also introduced to the clinical subjects of the final professional. I cannot emphasize enough the vast number of topics covered in each subject! Was it possible for my brain to understand, absorb and retain so much, including all that was taught in the first professional? We trudged on gallantly. Our microbiology professor was a terror in class. But come exam time, nobody could be better than him! He wanted each student to clear the exam honourably. He helped each one of us to make this a reality.

Sir Sunderlal Hospital is attached to the Institute of Medical Sciences, B.H.U. for teaching purposes.

Then came the final professional. My vision of a doctor meant a stethoscope adorning my neck. The subjects of the first two professionals did not need one. The grinding routine, and grueling learning of final year subjects was like being hit by a tornado. It took me time to understand whether I was on my head or my heels and to adjust to my new bearings. A major role in calming my chaotic mind was played by Professor Dr. Basu Mallik, our gynaecology teacher. His style of teaching floored me. His soft voice, coupled with gentle movements of his sensitive fingers to illustrate his words worked like magic on me! Also, this was a subject with very few topics to ‘mug’ and to remember. In comparison, the other subjects initially drove me crazy. Easy, to decide what I would do in future, wasn’t it? His patience in explaining again and again any clarification that I wanted, was another endearing trait. Some amount of stability and sanity set in my otherwise chaotic education. The other subjects were too detailed and difficult to mention here. My mind was made up — gynaecology it was for me! Or so I thought.

My life turned upside down as soon as I went to the wards. In one brief phrase, I hated it! The practical part, to me, was not unlike a horror movie. I didn’t want to touch it with a barge pole.

The Outpatient Department (OPD) of Sir Sunderlal Hospital.

So, I quickly converted my ‘jaundiced eye’ approach to other subjects and exchanged it for ‘rose tinted glasses’. In my time, premium subjects for doing post-graduation were Medicine, Surgery, Gynaecology and Paediatrics. I chose Paediatrics.

Thank you, Professor Basu Mallik, my favourite teacher, but Gynaecology as a career was a big ‘NO’ for me, forever!

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