Emotions ran high as septuagenarian doctors, who were students of the Madras Medical College (MMC) almost 53 years ago, met at the reunion on Sunday. The 85 alumni of the 1961 batch of MMC shared their memories of the college days and caught up with friends with whom they had spent six formative years of their lives.
“Many of us have not met for years after leaving the college. A few of us began meeting a few years ago and through friends we got in touch with the rest of our batch mates,” said Dr J L Marthandan.
In a batch of 150, Marthandan said, about 50 of them were no more, while the rest had settled in various corners of the world.
At least 15 of them had travelled from countries like the US, UK, Australia and Europe, to be at the reunion. The event also saw couples who had fallen in love on the campus and later got married, doctors who stayed single, widows and widowers. The doctors, accompanied by their family members, also spent their day with other fun-filled activities like music and dance.
“We remembered the mischiefs we did and jokes we cracked. But they cannot be published,” said Dr Marthandan with a laugh.
While a few doctors had been part of the reunion in the previous years, for Dr Thomas George, who had spent over 30 years in Australia, it was an indescribable feeling meeting his friends and batchmates almost half a century later.
“We were mischievous. We shared joy, happiness, exam stress and other difficult times. We got through them together. Then we left and it has been 53 years, but we still feel like we just left last week,” said Dr Thomas George explaining his joy in catching up with friends. “I feel rejuvenated,” he added.
For Dr P K Kesavaram, catching up with friends was more than a moment of happiness and pride.
His grandchildren, who were with him, were not just impressed by the affection and friendship shared during the meet, but also hoped to have such friends some day.
“My granddaughter is studying in class seven. When she saw my friends, she said ‘I also want friends like those of my grandpa,” said Dr Kesavaram with pride. Amidst all the fun, the doctors did not fail to convey their message to the young doctors — serve the rural public.
Many doctors present at the reunion expressed their concern over the young doctors refusing to work in rural areas. “We request the young doctors to accept appointments at rural health centres. These centres are not like what they were when we practised. Now, they are well equipped. Ours is a noble profession and it’s a great opportunity to serve underprivileged,” Dr Kesavaram said.
They also pointed out that investigation had taken over physical examination, while the latter was given importance decades ago. “But it is not the fault of the students. The practices in medicine have changed,” said Dr Thomas George. He added that a universal health cover would be of great benefit for the people. It would be comparatively difficult to implement it in a country like India than in Australia where he was settled, he added.