A medical doctor remembers his life’s journey
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns, Top Stories

A medical doctor remembers his life’s journey

June 30, 2024

Mysore Literary Association (MLA) invited Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, city’s medical practitioner and also a regular columnist of Star of Mysore, to deliver a talk on ‘Beginning my life in a White Coat’ at Kalpa Kshetra auditorium in Vijayanagar 4th Stage on June 23, 2024. Curiously it was a sequel to good doctor’s earlier talk on ‘Why and how I became a doctor’ delivered under the auspices of MLA exactly a year back on the same day, same month (June 25, 2023), the same venue and at the same time.

The words ‘white coat’ in the title of this year’s talk made me think of the doctors of today and of the past in my younger days. Those were the days when doctors used to be immaculately dressed, well-groomed with a spotless white coat and a stethoscope prominently dangling over it, suspended from the nape. These days ‘casual wear’ seems the norm. Even the most visible symbol of a doctor, stethoscope, to identify a doctor seems a rarity. Let me not dilate…

Listening to the Doctor’s talk that day, I was in tears. Tears of laughter. The way he delivered his talk, seasoning it with humour, made the audience often smile or burst into laughter, like I did. For sure this doctor was prescribing laughter as medicine. Truly it is said laughter is the best medicine. And it was so with Dr. Javeed Nayeem where he put me on a rocking-chair of laughter all the way. Undoubtedly he is the best raconteur I have heard in Mysuru.

I was reminded of a Japanese aphorism that the comfort of sitting on a chair does not depend on the chair but in the way you sit on the chair. Likewise, I guess, the interest for the audience in a speech does not depend on the subject of the talk but the way the speech is delivered. A frivolous subject could be made interesting by a good speaker. No wonder, Dr. Javeed Nayeem held the attention of his audience for over an hour, spell-bound.

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Hearing him, I thought he was determined to become a medical doctor more to make his dear father, a Coffee Planter in Chikkamagalur district,  realise his personal dream vicariously rather than to realise his own dream — whatever it was. I should think he had scarified much and sweated it out as a student to ultimately become an accidental doctor with an MD. Indeed an ideal, role-model of a loving son to a doting, noble father.

He had got admission in the first instance in the best of medical colleges of those days, in Manipal Medical College and in Belagavi KLE Medical College, but for reasons he humorously narrated, he had to give them up. Finally, he got admitted to Gulbarga Medical College — Gulbarga, a backward place with harsh climate and known for government employees being transferred there as a punishment.

Naturally, the filial sentiments made his parents, specially mother, worried. It was then his father K.A. Khadir, former Reader in Maharaja’s College, Mysuru, consoled himself, his wife Rasheeda Banu and son Javeed Nayeem by quoting the famous Urdu poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal. The poet was using Falcon as a metaphor. It is a bird known for courage, strength and love of freedom. A Falcon went to the Royal Palace to build its nest. But was told that being a Falcon its place was not on the dome of a Palace but on the rocks of a highest mountain.

With this dose of morale booster, our doctor packed up his father’s dream and went to Gulbarga. After his MD, he chose to work in a remote Christian Hospital far away in a village, then considered Veerappan’s territory, near Kollegal. And for 14 years! His journey as a doctor should, therefore,  be a guide to many modern day young doctors specially from rich families, like Dr. Javeed Nayeem himself, to emulate; because it places humanity above even personal comfort and ambition.

At the end of the talk, the doctor was ready to take questions. All questions were relevant to the subject of his talk but for a discordant one. Till that very moment, the audience was listening to a doctor, an Indian doctor. Then suddenly there was a blast of a “divisive” question (or was it a ‘secular’ question?) that made the audience know that the person they were listening to for the past one hour was a Muslim. Instead of a doctor, audience was looking at a Muslim on the stage!

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I for one could not fathom why this irrelevant question. Why identify a good doctor by his religion? Worse, he was asked to give his opinion to a wrong done to a Muslim in far away north of our country. Thank God the good doctor did not fall into the trap. It is said that there are people in our society who take pleasure in opening the wound that is healing. I am a witness to many such questions that were mischievous and in poor taste. OMG.

As I drove back to my office that demonic question was disturbing my mind. And Buddha came to my rescue with an answer. He was going to a village with his disciple. On the way they found a flowing stream to cross. They also saw a woman waiting for help to cross the stream. Buddha lifted her with his hands and carried her across the stream, left her on the bank and continued his journey.

By dusk they reached the village and while retiring for the night, the disciple apologetically asked Buddha a question: Master, you preached us to keep away from women. But I saw you carrying that woman across the stream this morning.

Buddha, the forgiving one, gave a benign smile and spoke softly: Dear disciple, I dropped that woman on the bank of the stream long back. But why are you still carrying her?

I was enlightened. The questioner must be of the same mindset as of this disciple.

Enough for now

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