Let's talk, she said, and everybody listened

By R Chitra Published on Jul 25, 2017 04:15 PM IST

Varshini Thiruvadi receives the first prize from Health Minister, Dr Vijaya Bhaskar, in Chennai recently.

Chennai: When the Indian Medical Association, Tamilnadu Chapter, conducted a competition to celebrate Doctors Day and selected the topic 'Depression - Let’s Talk', Varshini Thiruvadi, a second-year student of Thanjavur Medical College, decided to participate in it. She says opportunities like these were rare once you entered college and she was determined to exercise her writing skills as she had when she was a student of A V Meiyappan Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Chennai.

She was equally determined it would not be a cut and paste job from books or the Internet. What she wrote was straight from her heart and probably that was the reason she walked away with the first prize in a competition that was open to all government and private medical colleges.

Her essay focussed on the need for people to talk to each other in this increasingly lonely planet to prevent and treat depression. Her personal anecdote from the family and the engaging style of language must have touched the hearts of the jury.

She received the prize in Chennai on Doctors Day from the hands of Health Minister, Dr C Vijaya Bhaskar, in the presence of Health Secretary, Dr J Radhakrishnan.

Here are the excerpts of her interview:

When was the competition announced?

It was announced on 13 June 2017 and the last date was 22 June.

How did you go about writing the essay?

When the topic announced was 'Depression - Let’s Talk', my only challenge was to limit it to 1,500 words. After discussing with my classmates and roommates, I decided this had to be different and original. I realised that it had to be thought out and written as I see it. I started applying my mind and wrote on the subject as I understood it.

How many from your college participated?

Since the competition was meant for essay, drawing and photography I am not sure about the numbers. Besides my winning the first prize, the second and third prizes were won by Tagore Medical College and Savitha Medical College, Chennai. The third place for the drawing competition was won by my college and, coincidentally, she is my roommate as well.

Have you won essay competitions before?

I've participated in a lot of such competitions during my school days and won a few. Ever since I joined a medical college, I haven't come across any such competition of merit. So, I grabbed this opportunity with both hands and tried it to give it my best shot.

Did you expect to win this time?

I love to write and didn't think about winning. I just wanted to do my best and my winning the first prize was a huge bonus.

How did your teachers and classmates react to your win?

All my teachers have been a great source of inspiration and encourage us to participate in these competitions. Our vice-principal, Dr Sivakami madam, deserves special mention as she was elated at my winning the competition and was the first to inform and congratulate me. But for my classmates, I would not have even attempted this essay competition.

What about your parents? What was their reaction?

When I first told them that I was entering an essay competition, they were very happy and encouraged me. When the results were declared they were over the moon because I had bagged the first prize.

Was it always a dream to do medicine?

I only thought of putting my best efforts in the school final and was pretty sure I would not take up engineering. However, I started firming my mind on doing medicine over a period of time. I got this seat through general counselling through merit.

What are you planning to specialise in? Is Psychology a fav subject?

I am keen on doing my masters in paediatric and neonatology. Psychology, as I understand, is a basic tool to understand and diagnose even physiological issues. There is this very strong link between psychology and physiology and, hence, is a basic favourite of mine.