By Megha Consul
Neonatologist Megha Consul shares how meditation alone helped her weather the rigours of medical school
I still remember the day I got a phone call from a friend telling me I had made it through the pre-medical test. I remember thanking God and my angels and whoever was listening for my stroke of luck. Even my rank (777) seemed to imply there was the hand of the Divine in my selection.
Medical school was the best kind of blessing – the one that has deep suffering attached. I was terribly afflicted by homesickness. I missed my parents and my home, and all the comforts and pampering by my indulgent family. I was thrown widely out of my comfort zone. Living alone was itself a new and extremely unpleasant experience .
Bhopal, which was the location of my medical school, is a beautiful town. It is steeped in patriarchy, the small mindedness of a small town, with all the beauty and grace of having five lakes built in. From having a lovely chatty existence I was given uninterrupted solitude and a lake that seemed to have a soul of her own. I remember looking out over the lake every morning and evening, trying to figure in the beautiful vistas what part I wanted to play in what appeared to be a big confusing drama.
And I was out of my depth. From dissecting the lifeless body of another human being (her name was Rampyari and she contributed to much mirth and a huge dollop of black humor only a medico could appreciate), to being face to face with tragedy the likes of which I had never experienced in my sheltered existence, medical school wreaked havoc on my sensitivity. Like many health workers (and also many war survivors), I adopted a tough-as-nails exterior – though inside, I was bewildered. There was absolutely no way I could reconcile all the horrors and disease I witnessed – I had no container for it, no template or context. My childish enthusiasm began getting replaced by a deep sense of negativity, with a very strong survival focus. All my ideals – of contributing to healing went out the back door as I struggled to cope. Not that there was any succor to be found in my elders or seniors. We were ragged within an inch of our lives (this was before ragging became taboo), and I remember being literally browbeaten to conform – there again went my creativity and natural flair. I was deeply wounded and did
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