A Conversation with
As a first-year medical
student Maya attends anatomy lab to dissect a corpse or in
medical jargon cadaver to learn more about human body from a dead
person to understand a living one.
Around 8 students share a
cadaver. Each student work on different part of the body,
sometimes they team up to dissect one part. Dissecting a face is
perhaps the hardest. After dissecting the body for a week, Maya
felt that the cadaver was trying to communicate with her. It was
a strange feeling. Obviously she doesn't want to share her
thoughts on the cadaver with fellow students so she went to the
lab after hours to be with the cadaver alone.
Maya removed the cover to
expose the face of the cadaver. Eyes closed and tight lipped, the
cadaver for a moment appeared dead. And then, the eyes opened
slowly, the cadaver glanced at Maya with a smile. For a moment,
Maya froze but then she was very familiar with the body, deep
into inner layers through dissections, she touched body's hand as
"Hello Maya," a male
voice sounded softly.
"From day one when you
started working on my body, I am trying to communicate with you
but with my body parts dismembered, obviously dead, I can only
express my feelings within myself to talk to you," the male voice
"When I saw your face on
the very first day, I felt I know you from the past, a distant
"Perhaps your forefathers
may be from the same country I came from."
"You are much younger
than rest of the bodies in the lab," said Maya looking around the
"True, when I look around
I felt the same, as you might have learned that I died
"In the American civil
"But the civil war ended
"I died in the American
civil war enactment; as a bystander watching a reenactment show
of civil war scene in our town, I got shot accidentally by one of
the actors that fired a rifle mistakenly loaded with live
"But not many people sign
up to allow their body to use as a cadaver in the anatomy
"Well, I thought I serve
a better purpose dead than alive, so I signed up to be a
"That is very
While other students were
struggling to identify a specific muscle, nerve or a blood
vessel, Maya has no problem since the cadaver was giving
walkthrough instructions only Maya could hear; for example, you
are cutting too deep; be careful in that area you may damage the
nerve or cut the blood vessel; slowly slice it to its left then
lift it carefully; there you go, you got it now, etc."
"How you know so much
about human anatomy?"
"Well, every time I ask
health related questions, my brother-in-law, a surgeon, will
start with simple lesson in anatomy first before going into
physiology and then treatment options. He is a darn good teacher
of anatomy; the only problem was it was too much information for
me, nevertheless I learned a lot about human anatomy from
"That is good."
"May be to a medical
student like you, it will be educational."
"True, I am learning a
lot from you not just from dissecting your body parts but from
your knowledge of anatomy; is it not amazing, gaining knowledge
from a body and soul of a cadaver."
"Well, a dialogue is
always beneficial either with a person alive or dead as in my own
The term came to end with
Maya scoring highest in Anatomy, thanks to the cadaver. Before
leaving for the semester break, Maya visited the Cadaver to say
good bye. "It was nice working on you, if not for your help I
could never have obtained A in anatomy," expressed Maya in
"It was my pleasure to be
dissected by an enthusiastic student like you, while some
students do not show respect to a cadaver, you showed genuine
interest in learning," the cadaver's voice was sincere.
"I understand from the
lab director that in living will you requested that the ashes
from cremation of body parts be buried and your tomb stone shall
read 'Kept His Life Simple," said Maya looking at the
Cadaver's heart placed away from the body, for a moment she
thought the cadaver's heart was pulsating, perhaps it was all her