Recently, just before the Covid-19 pandemic started, a friend of mine was to appear for her final medicine exam where she was required to bring a patient along with her. I seemed to be an easy choice and was given an offer and told that I would be “examined” in exchange for a Snickers.
I said yes, and to be honest, I was quite excited. I made sure to oil my hair that night, so they wouldn’t be too ruffled, and shampooed early the next morning. I picked out a brilliant blue shirt, ironed it, splashed some perfume, and was finally ready for the big day.
She came to pick me up, and we drove to her hospital. She was nervous, examinations do that to you. I tried to lighten the mood by turning on the radio, and ominously bhajans were being played on all the channels at that early hour.
We reached the hospital, which was already starting to get crowded by students, their parents, and their respective patients. I looked around, everyone seemed tense. There was a bustle of the crowd, with students explaining theories to their friends from their last minute notes, parents praying over their children, force feeding them with biscuits and juice and everyone wishing each other the best of luck.
It seemed like forever for the gates to open and the formalities of attendance and identification to be complete, and I was finally escorted to a patient’s cot. I was treated rather royally; I was given something to eat every twenty minutes or so, starting with water, then breakfast, and then tea and biscuits. Part of me had already forgotten why I was even here in the first place.
My friend, on the other hand, was sweating, and she kept standing beside the cot, biting her nails, and silently either trying to pray or revise stuff in her head.
The examiner finally came to our cot. A plump lady in a sari, she sat on the chair, and looked over her golden rimmed spectacles and said, “Please show us how you will examine the liver.”
My friend asked me to remove my shirt and lie on the bed. I looked at her, “really?” I meant to ask her. After all my ironing and perfuming, was this what “examining” me meant? The glare she gave me made me comply. I knew this wasn’t the time to argue. But this was only the beginning.
The moment I lay down, she placed a hand on my abdomen, and I twitched.
“Please don’t move,” she said firmly, I could hear both panic and anger in her voice. “Take deep breaths.”
But I am very ticklish, and every time she tried to place her hand to examine me, I would quiver, and between the deep breaths, I burst out laughing. It was inappropriate and unfortunate.
“Miss, haven’t you explained your patient the procedure?” the examiner asked seeing her struggle.
“I did ma’am.”
“Liar,” I thought to myself.
The examiner was nice enough to change her question so as to not involve me in her viva anymore.
She passed. And I never got my Snickers.