My Story - 15

 MY STORY - 15

DR SHANTILAL J. MEHTAAmong my politician patients have been Indira Gandhi-operated for a kidney stone-Morarji Desai for hernia, and stone in the ureter right in thepelvis; Yeshwantrao Chavan for acute appendicitis and Jayaprakash Narayan. After operating on Indira Gandhi successfully in 1960, I received a letter from Jawaharlal Nehru. He wrote: "Dear Dr Shantilal. I am sending you a somewhat belated letter to thank you for all the trouble you took to come to Delhi to operate on my daughter and to spend a number of days here looking after her. It was a great comfort to me and to her to have you here, and I am deeply grateful to you for all the trouble you ok. Indira is progressing. I suppose she will take some time to come back to normal health and strength. I am glad to say that she is taking adequate rest and we are keeping away visitors as far as possible”.

Morarji Desai was an ideal patient though some one had mischievously spread a rumour that he had collapsed on the operation table. I had to convince all callers that Mr Desai was quite well and recovering.

I was to take care of Jayaprakash Narayan when he was at Jaslok Hospital. I had just come home one night at 8 p.m. when I received a call from the Chief Minister's secretary. He said that the Chief Minister was about to visit Mr Narayan and would like me to be present in the hospital. I suggested that DrHiranandani be asked to come as I had another appointment. At that point the Chief Minister, Mr S.B. Chavan came on the line and said: "Dr Mehta, I particularly want you to be there when I am visiting, so please come.” So I went.

Together Mr Chavan and I entered Mr Narayan's room. Addressing Mr Narayan, Mr Chavan said: "Jayaprakashji, are you happy in the hospital? Is everybody treating you well? Do you have any complaints? How has Shantilal been treating you?”.

To that Jayaprakash said: "I have come to this hospital because of Dr Shantilal. I have known Shantilal for years and because I know him and knew that I would be treated very well, I have come here”.

Mr Chavan's inquiries surprised me as they concerned my professional work. So when we came out I asked Mr Chavan what the inquiry was all about. His answer took my breath away. He said: "Doctor, it has come to the notice of the government that in an obituary on Jayaprakashji already kept ready, it has been said that Dr Shantilal who is a friend of Indira Gandhi, is gradually killing Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan. We wanted Jayaprakashji himself to express his confidence in you!"

A few days later, I had a call from Dr Mani, the urologist treating Jayaprakash, saying that the patient's condition had taken a worse turn. Dr Mani said: "He may not survive the night. I am taking him for dialysis again". So I rushed to the hospital and from there called up the Chief Minister, who advised me to get in touch at once with Indira Gandhi. When I called up the Prime Minister she said: "Shantilal, please do notleave the hospital. I am surrounding your hospital with military and a military Head will visit you within a few minutes."

Sure enough within half an hour, there was an Armed Forces looking for me. He came to me and said; "Sir, here are two men precede you wherever you go in the hospital; the other will follow when you are in your office in the hospital premises, the men standing outside. They have orders not to allow anyone to enter without your P.A's specific permission. And even then one of them will accompany the visitor inside your office"

Somewhat intrigued, I called up the PM and asked her what this was all about.

Indira said: "Shantilal we have taken all these precautions for your safety. If Jayaprakashji dies some people will say that Shantilal killed him and so Shantilal in turn has to be killed!"

But Jayaprakash did not die that night. He was flown to his own home in Bihar where he passed away.

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