By Dr.K.V.Chaubal

It does not happen every day! You do not have to enter the house and start the conversation apologetically because you have arrived late - very late, looking tired, very tired - inspite of the fact that you have warned against working too hard, for you have something else, something interesting, to say. It was that day that a patient whom I was examing and questioning about his pain wanted me to understand the exact anatomical location of his pain. He insisted that I turn round and he finger between my scapulae and pressed hard to indicate the exact site of pain. He was satisfied and I said to him: "Thank God. You do not suffer from piles". The blues are gone. There is a ripple of laughter all round hot food is served. Yet another day is behind you.

Over forty five years since I joined the medical school - thirty years in practice - I ask myself, given the choice, would I want to live this life all over again? There is no hesitation. I say "Yes, I would love to". Would you believe, never in my medical examinations have I answered a question so promptly and with such conviction. I joined the medical school in 1945 as a British subject and emerged from it as an Indian doctor-a proud privilege. Thrilling days, the last couple of years at school coincided with the 1942 Quit India Movement. There was bravado in wearing a Gandhi cap and absenting oneself from the school in protest. It was a government school I went to—The Elphinstone High School. We were re-admitted only with an apology from us and a guarantee from the guardian. It was "Shame' at school, but not at home. The Headmaster, Mr Sathe, fell in our esteem! The family lived in Gamdevi in such close vicinity of hallowed ground the Gowalia Tank Maidan - where history was made.

The half-clad fakir led the nation, announcing the desire of three millions to live as a free people.

The pre-clinical years at the Medical College seemed so uneventful. Yet the memories of the shoot-out on Elphinstone Bridge on the day of the Naval Mutiny in Bombay are fresh. The victims were brought to our hospital - The K.E.M. Hospital. I was a pre-clinical student. Not involved in the treatment of those patients was a disappointment then. In retrospect, one realises, there is no thrill in treating the victims of such sinister events. Would one measure up to the challenges of such a situation is the fear now.

Early years at the medical college bring memories of eloquent addresses delivered by national leaders. One remembers Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Acharya J.B. Kripalani. They stirred the emotions, but not one of my classmates offered personal sacrifice. Perhaps the desire to become a doctor was stronger and not so ignoble. A blessed generation to be living through such momentous times, to be guided by those who never faulted or failed in their contributions to the welfare of the society.

The spirit of nationalism prevailed but did not deter one from appreciating the stalwarts in medical profession who were trained in England, Dr R.N. Cooper, Dr M.K. Sahiar, Dr G.M. Phadke, Dr N.D. Patel, Dr A.V. Baliga, Dr V.N. Shirodkar, Dr RJ Katrak. Their regard for time and punctuality was evident when they drew their golden watches from the waistcoat pockets of their elegant three-piece suits. But the deepest impressions they made were those of their uncanny skill of clinical diagnosis and operative treatment. Most of all, they served the poorest of the poor patients and showed such concern for those who needed their skills, How could one be anything other than a good doctor when exposed to such inspiring personalities teachers of eminence!

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar