The college life at medical school was pretty much the same as all other hostels and colleges but as expected our studies were different. We were going to be studying about Gods most advanced creation – the human body!
If we break up the functions of the human body we can realise that it is not just one subject that we have to learn about. It is an engineering marvel, a biochemical wonder and a conglomerate of different organ systems working individually yet together in one body so deeply interlinked with one another that the failure of even one system can cause the entire structure to collapse.
And most of all it has a very special component called the soul where all the research in the world stops. The soul is supposed to stay in the human body as long as all the systems are working fine but can slip out without rhyme or reason at any time. No one can control it or hold on to it. All our medical education fails when it comes to the soul.
As we begin medical school we are on a high. It appears that we are studying to be Demi Gods. The feeling, that if we do everything right we can save all life, is overwhelming. The reality of the fragility of life and the minimal control we have of holding on to it dawns much later.
Our first encounter with a human patient is actually a cadaver. As we reach on day 1 for our anatomy class our brain is clouded with the overwhelming stink of formalin preserved cadavers. If its not the smell then it’s the sight of a lifeless human body lying before you that completely hits you in the head. The weak hearted usually swoon away and have to be whisked away to another room to recover. The brave manage to survive the double onslaught on their sense of smell and sight and sit down around the cadavers to acclimatise for a couple of days before our esteemed teacher hands us a scalpel and asks us to begin dissecting the body. The initial hesitation of using a knife on the human body over a period of time gives way to the need of learning. It is usually here that you can differentiate future surgeons from future physicians. For the next one year as that cadaver falls apart it teaches us all we need to know about the structure of the human body.
I remember the cadaver allotted to our group… a middle aged female. I often wondered who she was when she was alive. A daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother to someone. I wondered how she must have died, what must have been her life and her dreams. I learnt that when that essential component called the soul departs from the body it feels nothing. No pain no joy no sorrow…. Its just a piece of organic matter ready to return to dust.
And all our life we spend focusing and caring for this body which is meaningless without the life force within it .. without the soul. Do we really do anything to preserve and enhance this force within us? Is there a way to transfer this consciousness from one body to another? The day we can find a way to do that we would probably have solved the mystery of life and death.