My Boss, a retired Professor of Cardiology is an avid reader. He also likes to share anecdotes; from the past and not so distant past. I have learned so many things from him over the past five years. I remain indebted to him for whatever little I know today.
All of what I’ve learned from him isn’t about Cardiology. He has always goaded me to go for a second child. He admonishes me because I haven’t progressed yet. He has given precious tips on preserving mushrooms. He is a good cook and has given his inputs about some of the dishes that all of us love. He also gave me a copy of Jeffery Archer’s ‘Paths of Glory’ a wonderful novel about a man, who was perhaps the first to scale the heights of Mount Everest; but never got the credit simply because he didn’t return to tell his story.
I have heard so many wonderful anecdotes from my Boss; I can actually compile them into a book. With the help of a good Editor, I might even have a bestseller in my armor. Let me recount one of those stories here. The story is here as it was narrated to me. The ‘I’ here is ‘He’ the Boss!
I have always believed in myself and trusted my ability to judge people. But once in a while my confidence gets badly shaken by my failure to read people. Ever since I came to Kochi five years ago, I have been treating a man with Coronary Artery Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension and Deep Vein Thrombosis of right leg. He is a stocky man always seen in old but well maintained shirts and mundu. He also wears a monkey cap almost all the time. He must be around 74 years old now. Since day one, he has cribbed to me about the costs of medicines and the difficulties of the common man. Looking at his miserable situation, I always kept aside samples of medicines for him. Every month, he comes to me, gets himself examined and walks away with samples worth at least 600 to 700 rupees. When I am short on samples, he even demands that his share should be kept safely and not be given to other people. And then this happened…
Last Saturday, he was here. After I examined him, he requested me for a certificate stating the facts of his illness. He wanted it to facilitate his visit to the famed temple at Tirupathy. There elderly people with illnesses can walk straight into the temple without having to suffer in the queue if you have an authentic certificate stating about your ill-health.
Then he told me, “I am going to pray to the Tirupathy Lord to give me the longevity and the good fortune to see a five storied building coming up on my land” I asked him, “Where is your land and how much do you think you will need for this?” He replied, “My land is about 3 acres in the suburbs of Kochi city. The estimate for the building comes to around five crores. I am going to arrange some loan and rest will come from my savings. I am not going to sell my land in my life time. What will happen after that is left my children”
Now, the Boss was seething! He said, ‘Here I am, a Cardiologist and a Professor for over 30 years. I don’t have a house, no car and not even a small piece of land in my name. And here I was; like a fool doling out free medicines to a millionaire! I lost complete faith in my ability to judge people”
I could only smile a feeble smile. What else can you do when someone as senior as him admits he was conned?
Why did I choose this story? Just because I wanted to tell something that I have always wanted to tell. People complain about the greed and arrogance of Doctors. Very often, I have seen some people generalizing about the Doctor community as ‘Money-minded and selfish’. And when you have someone as simple and as upright as my Boss, he gets duped! How will Doctors trust people? There is a serious breach in trust and that has happened due to contributions from both the sides. Unfortunate but true! What can we do to restore some kind of trust and confidence? I can talk for the Doctor community and that will require another day and another post!