Mr. S S Acharya [Shagri Srinivas Acharya]
It was in the year 1970 that I first met with Mr. Acharya. I was scouting around to find a suitable place to begin my practice. This area was just beginning to develop but was mostly rural and Mr. Acharya was one of the very first to settle here after his retirement. Most of his service was in Calcutta and his family spoke more Bengali than their native tongue Tulu. My uncle had asked me to meet up with him to get the hang of the area as a potential possibility for my starting practice
Thus, one fine afternoon I landed at his place and rang the doorbell. It took a while for the front door to open to reveal a dour elderly gentleman dressed in Khaki shorts and a white banyan. Later, I realized that it was his standard mode of dress at all seasons. He was obviously unhappy as it was probably his siesta time and to have abruptly woken up.
I made a quick intro and dropped my uncle’s name. At this his demaneer changed and a smile appeared on his face, and he welcomed me into the house. He made me sit on a hard chair and made himself comfortable on an easy chair. Many years later he told me that it was his ploy to make unwanted visitors uncomfortable so that they would leave early. But then he also told me some visitors have no shame but sit on for hours despite the discomfort.
Mr. SS after having seated me on that uncomfortable metal chair and coming to know the reason for my visit, proceeded to grill me as to my origin and antecedents. Normally this sort of queries related to my personal matters end up annoying me, but then, here I am a visitor, welcome or not and had to respond to his questions. At last, after this test, he seemed to be satisfied with my pedigree, he proceeded to give me a talk on what he expects from a doctor, frequently quoting the example of his own family doctor at Calcutta and telling me that I too should be like him, available at all hours, never loosing ones cool and at all times keeping service as the primary objective in one’s life etc.
The interview lasted more that an hour and after satisfying that I am a good listener, he gave me a cup of tea and wished me good luck
Thus began our fifteen years of relationship which lasted till his death
Mr. S.S was a diabetic and was insulin dependent and the tragedy was he was also very fond of food. Though I became his trusted doctor, I don’t think I really succeeded in adequately controlling his diabetes. Being from the same area and belonging to the same clan, we would often be invited to same social function or the other and Mr. SS would wait and watch where I would be before he took a seat as far away from me as possible, so that he could eat his meal in peace away from my watchful eyes. He took one extra dose of insulin before committing this crime!
Mr. SS owned a nondescript car which he was very fond off and maintained it himself. Often, I would find him with greasy hands tinkering the innards of that car, Once even found him spreadeagled under the car with his scrawny legs sticking out! He would make trips to Shivajinagar raddi shops in search of spare parts for his car. Though this car was a liability [my opinion] Mr. SS did not think so, and turned a deaf ear to his wife’s entreaties to buy a new car!
He was also fond of gardening and had flower bushes and fruit trees in his back yard and on many occasions, he would bring a fruit or two or some flowers and present these to me with pride and pleasure. As my consulting place was close to his house, it was easy for him to take a walk and see me
He had a trying time during his last couple of years. He developed complete heart block and suffered a stroke. Those days this city did not have any cardiac intervention worth the name. As he suffered frequent episodes of syncope, he needed a pacemaker. This was available in Mangalore [or is it Manipal]. Mr SS went and got this done and though his syncopal attacks ended, and his quality of life was better in a way, his hemiplegia troubled him and put an end his many interests and for me it was painful to see him going around with a stick and the lopsided hemiplegic gait.
He suffered another CVA and lapsed into coma. I withdrew all the medications and he passed away a week later at home.
Even now, when I pass by the road where his house once stood, these memories come flooding back
Some of you might wonder at my phenomenal memory which has enabled me to recall these details of his life. This is partly due to the diary I have kept which has these record of patient stories, some of these you will find in this blog and not due to any super memory!