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I Am Body No.3

by Lubaba Mukhtar

Hey, I’m body number 3 in the dissection hall of anatomy department in King Edward medical university. I lie in plain view in front of the main doors of dissection hall if you come from the side of learning centre. Nowadays I lie on my dissection table without my arms and legs and almost no skin. They were dissected by students studying different regions in their syllabus. I don’t know what is more challenging: the life I lived as a person or the life I have as a cadaver.

Life has always been a struggle for me. I was born into a poor family, entangled myself in a bad way of life; lost all relations and everyone who could care; made some disastrous choices and ended in jail. Jail was my last home, the last place I lived as a human. The place I took my last breaths. Then I was transferred to a morgue and when nobody came to claim my body or give me even the rights of a burial, I was transferred to a storage box and brought to the most prestigious medical institution of Pakistan: King Edward medical university. I stayed in that storage box for about six months before I was transferred to my own dissection table and given the label “body number 3.” I still wear a tag on my arm that states the jail room I was a prisoner in.

I have so many stories to tell, I can spill so many secrets I have heard lying here on this dissection table.

I have experienced the company and talk and behaviors of such a variety of people ever since I was transferred here. It’s so ironic that many a time I become the cause of strife among students when they fight and struggle to decide who will peel off my skin or who will pull out my muscles. This usually happens among the new 1st year students. I’m like a new and interesting toy for them. But they soon get tired of my rotting body and within a few weeks, they have to assign days to each other so no one has to perform dissection on my dry, hard and decaying body every other day. And soon I go from the most interesting to the most burdensome toy. I guess it must be difficult doing what these students do or they wouldn’t go from fighting over me to considering me a problem.

I have had more attention and I have been given much more importance as body number 3 then I was ever given as a living, breathing, struggling person. I think many of you must be nauseated by all that I have said so I must tell you that my life here is not all pain, there are many funny things that happen around me every day. Most human beings have been blessed with great wit and many have a great sense of humor too, and I get to experience that first hand quite often.

One group of girls who have been assigned my head and neck region have named me “prince Edward”. I don’t know why they did it, but instead of calling me the usual names like “cadaver” and “body”, they call me “Prince Edward” all the time. If there in charge teacher heard this, they would be in serious trouble, but it is kind of funny to be called something different for a change. Just the other day, the same group of girls were talking about their previously assigned cadaver; they were referring to him as “harry”. At least I was given a better title and a better name.

Students are reprimanded continuously around me for not working on me properly. And to just show the teachers that they are actually performing their duty, they do the funniest and weirdest things imaginable.

Some boys who have been assigned my abdomen and pelvis region. One or two of them take hold of my intestines and one of them quickly takes hold of my stomach or spleen and the others make serious faces loaded with concentration as soon as they see a teacher nearing them. The girls in particular have a habit of assembling their stools around my dissection table so they have ease in getting up and pretending that they were performing dissection. I get really lonely when all these students leave, but the expressions of exuberance and joy and the sighs of relief I hear when they are allowed to leave my side makes me sympathize with them when they have to stand guard over me for 2 hours. They have their lives to live, they obviously can’t keep me company all day.

There are certain things that people say in passing that really offend me. They compare me with the other cadavers around me and then remark on my lean body, starved and dried muscles and other structures that they cannot see clearly on my body. I know it’s not their fault that they get frustrated with me and the faults in my body but it isn’t my fault too. If they knew the life I lived and the troubles and problems I had to face, they would stop blaming me for the form of structures I present to them.

I can stand almost everything and anything, and it’s not like I can do much about it. But the only thing that I would really want people to remember once in a while is, that I was alive once; I had a functioning heart, working lungs, circulating blood in my body just like them. And what has happened to me can happen to anyone. The only thing that I can ask them to do for me is to pray for my salvation. It won’t take them too long but if all of them, once in a while remember to say a short prayer for me; it would do me a lot of good. For all that I provide to them, this is the least these students can do for me. I hope I’m not asking for too much. Just a word of advice in the end: do thank God for all that you have; for the clothes with which you can protect your precious bodies; for the name that is your identity; for the safety that your families provide you and the opportunities you are being given every day. Be grateful for you lives.


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