How to Be a Friendly Physician: A Memoir
Jovial and helpful
It was a chilly wintry morning in Jalpaiguri, a district town in North Bengal. I was trying hard to solve an arithmetic problem for quite some time. Finding no one to help me in the matter at that moment I felt totally disappointed. Exasperated I then prepared to go to school and face severe rebuke from my teacher who had insisted the earlier day that we should complete the home work any how as the annual examination was around the corner. I had been already late and a sudden deafening shout downstairs caused my annoyance further as my mother was busy cooking and I had to walk down the long stairs to enquire. The voice transformed into a thunderous merriment as I was embraced warmly by a well built cheerful tall and lively person in his thirties ready to make an entry into our house with gifts tucked away in his motor cycle. Making the vehicle stand quickly he came with me whistling in joy to announce his arrival and before we could properly receive him he went straight to my study room to solve my problem easily assuring me a quick drive to my school to make up for the lost time.
An elephant roaming the roads
Turning over a new leaf in life
- He was our uncle from my father's side. A bright student yet his lack of concern for his career combined with his ever increasing habits for aimless jaunts on the river Teesta and growing adventurism on a hunting spree caused huge anxiety for my father, a great academician. Being the prime mover of education of our family he sensed ominous signs for the otherwise intelligent brother. My father decided to let him go for medical education to offer him better scope to mend his wayward emotions and serve the common man after being established in life. The opportunity proved to be a boon for him as he changed his ways to devote his time to become a good physician although his craving for hunting and noisy mirth continued unabated.
Becoming a registered medical practitioner he soon received lucrative offers from the tea gardens which were then flourishing in our district. As a physician he would be engaged in the gardens and in the evening he would go on rounds visiting almost all households. As I often accompanied him in his cycle or motor bike the journey to the distant villages was very interesting with rows of trees dotting the two sides of the wide roads. Soon we would have to take jungle paths to reach the rural areas. Although I would start fearing in such a dark and desolate place, with such a bold and brave person at my side my initial fear paled into insignificance in no time and I began to learn how to face any adverse situation. Shedding ego, if any, he would thoroughly examine his patients who considered him like an angel next to God. Although he did not hold any high degree in his chosen profession but what he could claim to possess was enough empathy and care for his patients. He would not think twice to waive his paltry consultation fees or distribute the free sample medicines he would receive from the medical representatives.
Busy plucking tea leaves
Inimitable uncle and resplendent dooars
He would complete his round and come back to his residence quite late only to plan for the next day’s routine. Some time he would take us to the gardens showing lush green tea blooming with workwomen busy plucking the leaves deftly which they would store in the basket hanging on their backs. A few would even carry their children in such indigenous containers while doing such hectic jobs. I could know early how such leaves turned into flavoury tempting Darjeeling tea.
On the one side it was my inimitable uncle and on the other side matching him perfectly was the resplendent dooars the coveted travelling spot of our district. Although not a good writer my heart longed to reproduce the whole thing in black and white then and there. Now I venture into the realm to give vent to my feelings at that tender age. Perhaps a word or two about the enviable geography of the place is essential as the beauty of the region lies not only in its tea gardens but also in the dense jungles that make up the countryside. Many wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are also located in the region.
Herds of elephants in Dooars
Paying tribute to an ideal physician
A number of rare endangered species of animals like tiger, rhinoceros and elephant make their habitat in the forests of Dooars. Other animals include different types of bison, deer, birds and reptiles. A railway line runs through the tea gardens amidst protected areas. Driving across the sinuous passages in the company of the sparkling river Teesta takes one to the gardens set in a seductive landscape amidst lush green sunkissed tea gardens of mystical dooars of North Bengal.
A very interesting story surrounding my uncle was when he returned home in the evening after a day’s hectic schedule he found to his utter surprise his wallet missing from the hip pocket. He could not even dream of even losing such a precious thing being very popular and respected physician of the locality. Normally a very cool and poised person he flew off the handle and armed with a revolver he took a bus in my accompaniment and reached a nearby road junction. He had been tipped off in the matter from some of his patients and relying on their hints he could catch hold of a young boy who pleaded guilty and ate humble pie in presence of a horde of people after returning the purse. I stood dumbfounded watching his immense popularity and bravery.
He would visit our house off and on in jalpaiguri town and would always bring Darjeeling flavoured tea which we heartily enjoyed. We had very precious moments in his joyous company with our neighbours of all ages as they poured in to see their favourite doctor uncle. The revered physician has long passed away but his memory still lingers and in these days when some doctors lack scruples and neglect their patients for the sake of money one cannot but remember such a popular physician as my uncle for his humane services to mankind.
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© 2014 ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE