Many many years ago, a young and harried mother used to bring her ten year old son to see me. The boy was an introvert, performed poorly at school, frequently fell ill and adding insult to injury was a very poor communicator. The father was a bank employee and had two other sons who came up to the family’s expectations in developing the required social skills and scholastic performance. They belonged to an affluent and high performing family with a large number of wealthy professionals and businessmen and thus suffered by comparison. Therefore it was an all round stress managing this boy whose full name was Thumbe Narayana Shetty. Mother called him Gadde and I called deaf and dumb. Why his mother called him a Gadde [which means swelling] I never asked but my calling him deaf and dumb had reasons. Whenever a question was asked his response was a blank stare as though he never heard you and therefore will not answer. That he understood was clear the way he opened his mouth when asked to and his response to my other such requests. But speak he will not. My attempts to humour him too used to fail and I had never seen him smile in the years that his mother suffered with him and I saw him. To put it in a nut shell he had all the makings of the family’s forthcoming disaster. More to humour his mother than the boy I used to give many examples of such apparently dull children [like Einstein] becoming highly successful scientists and even gave an example of one my own class mates who could not understand basics of physiology going on to become one of the famous nephrologists of the country. But she was rightly skeptical of my optimism.
This community to which the boy belonged to goes by the clan name of Bunts. There are many famous Bunts. Our own Dr Deviprasad Shetty is one and the famous beauty Aishwarya Rai Bacchan is another. That the community has also produced several leaders of the underworld is a different matter altogether. They are a gutsy people and usually excel in whatever they undertake to do. Our deaf and dumb Narayana was going to be an exception, so we all thought.
Some months ago I had a visitor who sent in his driver who gave me a card and said his boss wants to see me. The card read Narayan Sanjeev Tumbe and gave a fancy address at Pune. I had to make the gentleman wait for some time and after I did with the waiting patients asked him to come in. In walked a man in his late forties, class reeking out of every pore of his body, and asked me,' how are you doctor, you have not changed much since the time I used to see you’. Seeing my blank expression, he said,’ you called me deaf and dumb Narayana’. Memories of the deaf and dumb Narayana came flooding back at me and looking at this handsome successful man I just could not believe it is the same boy who now so confidently stood in front of me.
I was curious to know why he had come to see me. He was obviously not sick. He said,’ I just felt like seeing you, you were one of the few persons who believed I would be successful [the stories of Einstein and others I told his mother!]. I asked him what he has been doing since I last saw him. He said he owns a chain of bar and restaurants in towns and cities of Maharashtra and jokingly said he had changed his name to sound Maharashtrian! I asked about his parents. ‘Father is dead but my mother is with me’ he said. I then asked about his academically bright brothers. ‘Oh, they both work for me’ he said.
He said good bye, leaving behind a basket of fruits and a huge flower bouquet. I went out to see him off. He got into chauffer driven limousine and drove off.