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Monday, August 22, 2011

Units, Tens, Hundreds and Thousands.

        Each of us some song or one-liner associated with an important event in our lives. And that is what makes it all the more so special. Well, for me as I realised today, it is a chapter in my textbook that too has evoked euphoric memories. I have my share of songs also, my favourite ones being “Yaad sataye Teri” from Phir Hera-Pheri,

“Paisa-Paisa karti hai” from De Dhana Dhan

and the most recent being “Saibo”.

Anyways, talking of this special incident, it isn’t one that is all happy happy and goody goody. Still, it is a unique one.
         As I decided to start “revising” my ophthalmology as the prelims are around the corner, I opened “that” chapter after about 6 months. (Actually that’s the duration after which I have actually opened my ophthalmology textbook.) With the noise going on outside it is anyways difficult to concentrate. Then again, there is the England India test match going on. Not that it is any great, but my favourite cricketer Rahul Dravid 
has just hit a century and I hope that India are able to save their face in this test.  So, the best thing to do in such a situation is to enjoy those memories that flash back and relive those moments.
          After some days about six months ago, when it suddenly dawned onto me that I was in the last ophthal post and will have none before the exams, studies began. It felt good to be reading again. The teacher that I was posted under is perhaps the most dreaded in the entire college. For, one, her very shrill voice. Two, her taunting comments. Three, her bad memory. You may be following her as a shadow for two weeks. She’ll ask you your name. You’ll be happy that finally you’ve been noticed. And the very next day, she’ll demand the attendance sheet and will want to mark you absent for the entire two weeks for “she hasn’t seen you!!!” Four, her unpredictable temper and mood. You never know what to expect from her! And fifth, for herself.
        But, still, some gutsy personalities such as myself who are fond of going against the tide and “taking ‘em on” will try our luck and chances. I had heard stories about her even before my first post last year. And as a very good student asked her on my very first day,” Madam, I am a second MBBS student. This is my first ophthal post. I don’t know anything and won’t have the time to read everything as I am appearing for completely different subjects. Hence, what are the things that I am supposed to know by the end of this term?” She was taken aback, shocked perhaps. Squeezing her eyes she gave me” that” look and frowning her brow bluntly and rudely replied, “You are supposed to know everything.”
        That was then. And I thought how she forgot that she too was once an undergraduate who knew nothing! Then, during this last post, when she was in one of her good moods and relating to us instances from her residency days recollected how she had given a tight dressing to a patient that had caused a collapse of the anterior chamber and how her bosses got mad at her. But, she defended herself saying that “No one told her what to do and it was her first time”. Doesn’t it ring a bell madam, I thought. If you know how bad first time experiences can be and you definitely did not like it, you could have been a little more “considerate”.
        Anyways, that was a good week for she was in a good mood the next day also. She called me and asked, “Do you know maths?” I said,” Yes!” I always take pride in declaring where ever possible that even though I have taken up medicine; my knowledge of maths is as intact as ever. I can still solve those trigonometry, differentiation and integration problems! So, I thought that she’ll give me a simple arithmetic to do at the most. But, the task she entrusted to me was to “teach counting and addition” to our canteen boy. Hmmm, canteen boy, how old can he probably be? Well, he was 35.
        As it turned out, this professor had a humane side to her as well. I don’t know how but she had found out that this fellow was uneducated. Not only that but he was also keen on learning. So, she had been sending him to tuitions to learn basic things which most of us have learnt and forgotten since our nurseries. So, while 35 year olds residents at one hand pursue super specialties in our college, we mug up from books which are at least 3500 pages
and no less than 5 kgs in weight as a rule and this fellow at the age of 35 still had to learn to count up to 3500!
        And, I forgot to mention that, she had been paying his tuition fees as well. Extra fees also, for he was a “special” student. The man was intelligent, but there are ages at which you learn certain skills the best. You cannot learn them before, and definitely not later. But, this that tutor did not know. So, he/she was always frustrated why this fellow won’t grasp things and concepts which even a seven year old would grasp easily. And, so my professor felt that “the tutor was being harsh on him”. Hence she wanted me to teach him addition of three digit numbers. And to do that explain to him the concept of “Units, Tens, Hundreds and Thousands”.

        Well, the next day the fellow brought a 2nd standard maths textbook. Other patients in the OPD may have thought that it would be for his child, but it actually was for him. So, for about a couple of hours I tried to teach him. How well I taught I do not know. But, I did give it my best. I have taught maths to standard 10 students, but that was first experience teaching standard 2 stuff. It was difficult. Things that we take for granted, are not. It is difficult to understand, how that person is unaware to simple things. But the fact is that he is and you have to try and make him aware. That remains a very memorable experience and learning in itself for me, “Never take things for granted”. We live in very cosy homes and easy lives. There are situations starkly opposite in the society.
 Then when he came to take her leave, she told him to teach others all that he had learnt today. Knowledge has to be spread. It grows only by sharing. “You know no body taught them.” She told me. “Yes ma’am”, I replied. “No body has taught us either!!” (This I did not tell her). “Do not expect us to solve great riddles and puzzles with knowing the basics. We too need to be taught the “Units, Tens, Hundreds and Thousands”.

What surprises the most is this human behavior. The person considered to be tyrannical, actually has such a huge heart. She knows what the difficulties are. Yet, again they are identified only in some, and in others it is taken for granted. I am not complaining. Our problems are nothing compared to that man. And we are smart enough to fend for ourselves. I have been lucky to post this. And you have been lucky to read this.
Just making an observation. Food for thought perhaps.