Thursday, 3 March 2016

Doctor in Village - 1

Doctor in Village 1

Movies always begin with acknowledgements ,so let me also start by acknowledging that these write ups have been prompted by writings of my friend Srinivasa Raghavan about his legal career. But I had written some of these earlier but it did not occur to me to post it in FB. Some of this is my own,but most experiences are my father's and shared with us when he was alive.

My father Dr Rajagopal moved into Ollur then a sleepy village near a sleepier town,Trichur ,Kerala in 1970,the year I was born. He was then in his late twenties ,full of zest and the aspiration to succeed. He joined the ESI dispensary in Ollur as its Medical Officer in charge . For the uninitiated,ESI stands for Employees State Insurance , a government entity providing health services to the organised labour class. Although he was a fresh hand ,my father was given charge specially by the then Director of ESI Dr. Chitran Nambudirippad apparently to end bickering between two existing doctors. When he landed up in the village ,he was provided a quarter behind the dispensary. Years later I joined government service in the very same dispensary. I went around the quarter where I had probably crawled around. It was by then a dilapidated wreck.
Anyhow even then the quarter had its share of surprises,commonest of which were poisonous snakes! But this is not about any of those crawling creatures!
This story is about the two doctors who were then practising. I shall refrain from naming them correctly since one is very much alive. They lived and practised on two nearby streets. They were the only doctors then and competition was tough. Fees were minimal at two or five rupees ,so your survival depended on the number of patients .
The way they tried to maximise their clientele was rather stunning. They kept two youngsters at the start of the streets where they practised. Let's call them Dr Samuel and Dr John. When a family start walking towards Dr Johns clinic cum house,the youngster employed by his rival will come  forward
" Hey you are going to Dr John? Do you know he gives all the wrong medicines ? You will get cured only slowly. Turn back and go to Dr Samuel. Now, there is a fine doctor."
At this if they turn back ,at the corner,the other youngster will accost them,pretending to be an innocent passer by.
" Going to see Samuel Dr,? you really value the life of your child or......"
Imagine the plight of the poor family ! There were also smarter ones who escaped paying fees with one doctor by pouring abuse on the other.
When my dad started  to practise,first thing he did was to befriend one of his competitors. The other one had already left.
They remained friends till my fathers death in 2012. Their camaraderie despite competition was legendary and locals found it initially difficult to believe. Indeed many of my friends in school believed they were adversarial. To this day i remember the support given by this " adversary" when my father was unwell due to any reason.Such were the times ......

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