Some professors have this amazing way of teaching in class. Slideshows, video clips, whatever works. I remember my days in India when a conch-shell bespectacled prof would come and make us write notes for a full two hours till our biceps threatened to fall off. If the prof was especially a woman, she would hold the bunch of brown papers back from the days of Akbar’s rule so close to her bosom that any unsuspecting individual would suspect she was holding confidential FBI reports. Anyway, things are different here, and professors device new methods to ensure that people like me do not doze off in class. Sometime back I was in a class on asbestos and lung cancer, and the prof spent an hour’s class passing samples of asbestos in different forms so that we knew what he was talking about. And no, he did not hold the asbestos samples close to his bosom like the confidential notes in the previous case.
So I am taking this class on the health of mothers and children in developing countries, and we had already spent a few classes looking at the live videos of childbirth. While my fellow mates stared in amazement and excitement, I clenched my hands together, almost on the verge of passing out. Trust me, it might be very touching, but not really exciting to see clips of childbirth, especially when you have a history of passing out every now and then.
This being done, the prof told us that the next class would be spent enacting a skit. There would be a particular maternal health situation and the students will take on different roles to present a short play. Now this was a cool idea, since although we were not very clear about the scripts, we were told the various roles people would have. There would be big officers from the government agencies who are involved in policy making and implementation. There would be renowned doctors and skilled birth attendants. I mean, all these roles would be enacted by different students in the class. So after class, the teaching assistant came up with her list of who was gonna be what. Though it seemed like child play, suddenly I was very excited at the prospect of participating in this play. You see, barring the “scared of bloodbath” part, I have always thought that being a doctor is a cool thing to do in life. So even if not in real life, I could at least act the role of a doctor in the play.
Teaching Assistant (TA): So X, Y, and Z are gonna enact the role of policy makers from the WHO. (X, Y, and Z do a somersault in joy).
A and B will act as representatives of the World Bank (Same reaction, more somersaults ensue).
P, Q, and R will be health workers (I started to wonder when she would tell me about my role. Which by the way I was sure was going to be that of a doctor).
C and D can act as birth attendants.
G and H will be nurses.
K, L and M would be doctors (What !!! I am not a doctor? Then what am I? A sinking feeling started to dawn on me).
Anyone else remaining?
I raised my hand in anticipation. The TA smiled. I started to breathe easy.
TA: Oh yeah, we forgot you (She looked at the list in her hand).
I: So what will I be?
TA: You’ll be the patient.
I: What? What patient?? (I was already disappointed).
TA: A pregnant patient.
I: Ohhh !!!!!! (Suddenly, my world had become very dark).
TA: We are dealing with health issues due to multiple pregnancies here. Developing nations need to know the harmful health effects of producing too many children. You will be the woman on her 5th pregnancy who already has four kids.
Everything had suddenly gone irrelevant for me. Pregnant with the 5th child, of all the roles? I don’t know why, but all I was reminded of was the white rats in the labs that reproduced in litters. If each of our lives was a movie, I am sure everyone was the protagonist, the hero and the heroine in their own lives. I did not care about the “pregnant” silence and my “labored” breaths as I refused to take the bus and walked back home instead. Punning was the last thing on my mind, believe me.