A Medical Student Problem: Lost in Translation

doctor patient

Have you felt totally zonked in the middle of an intense discussion? Its something like you feel, when people around you, talk about things like “ Fall of America” or something equally stupid, like policies of UN ! Frankly, I don’t have an idea, as to what they are about, most of us don’t.

This is the plight of non-Kannada / non–Malayalam speaking students like a friend of mine, in the clinics daily. It was worse in the first postings. Now that I he is in the second round of major postings, things look much better. Alright, this post is not about his problems or anyone’s for that matter. Actually, its not a problem. See, when there is a problem, someone is to be blamed, and I don’t see any strong contender for the position or we can say it’s a mistake. In fact the first mistake of his life (according to him), he took birth in the northern parts of India, so lets not go into the details of that, its quite a thing of past now.

Lets get back to the present scenario. Students usually take clinical cases in group of four and guess what !! In his group,only one out of the four holy souls has some access to the language. Poor thing ! they shower her with all their queries and she has to bear up with them, as well as the patient, and my friend gets to do the examination part. I guess, its far more interesting than asking the patient, if he had passed stools in the morning !! She turns up as my friend’s saviour all the time.

Once he tried learning Kannada with the help of my roomy, who thankfully is a Kannadiga with a good hold on the language. He memorized all the questions to be asked while eliciting history. He spent the whole night learning those weird words !!

He some how managed to by-heart them. Next day, happily he went to the clinics, grinning all the way and declared that he would take history that day. He went to the patient, and said

“Nimma Hessaru Enu ?”
“Basappa” (A North Karnataka patient) he said

My friend’s heart jumped!! Hey, it works!! With a taut risorius, he proceeded to ask,

“Yav uru?”

He muttered something.

My friend frowned !! But its OK may be he hadn’t heard the name properly, and what is there to understand in the name of a place ?

Gathering courage, he proceeded.

“En kashta Aagide? “


and the patient began his story and went on :

Oh Damn ! My friend realized he hadn’t about that. He had no clue what the patient was talking about. He was brought back to the stark reality at the very moment and his risorius relaxed. With a sunken heart, He turned around and called for his life line and stood behind her, listening to whatever she would translate.

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