While working at the KMC Mangalore college today a colleague of mine poked her head into my cabin and asked me whether I will be attending the condolence meet. I enquired as to whose, and the reply was that the Head of the Forensic Medicine had expired! When an announcement like this touches the ears it instantly short-circuits the brain. For a brief moment one cannot make any sense of the information received. I had seen him only recently, a man in his early forties with a kid of about 6-7 years of age!
I understood what the phrase meant, yet was simultaneously puzzled, because it was inconceivable that he could be dead. Yet in some remote gyrus where maturity resides the shock was already processed, and waves of pain familiar to all who have received bad news began to vibrate through me. I was crushed by this news, and obviously wanted the details of his death.
I was told that he had died of cancer after battling it for almost two - three years. He who had devoted his life to training students to cope with death in all it's aspects, had succumbed to cancer. The irony in his story is almost unbearable - a doctor cut down in the prime of his career by same enemy he was sworn to destroy.
I did attend the condolence meet. The huge student turnout, filling the hall and the corridors beyond, showed me a glimpse of what the deceased might have meant to his students! Words were spoken, a two minute silence was observed, there were a few tears, and we all dispersed.
I was reminded that there is no easy way to endure the sorrow that comes with what is commonly called the "vicissitudes of life". It is certainly beyond my understanding. What does one do with this tragedy? How does one honor the memory of a colleague without descending into bathos?
I didn't brood on this question for long, for the answer to me was simple: go to work, and keep smiling. Do your duty, whatever it may be - and be glad that you awakened this morning in good health. Fulfill your mission in life - and delight in the wonder of it all. Remember your partner by doing his work, caring for patients as he would have continued to do, had he lived. Above all, spread a smile or two as you go about your day - it can lighten the load of those who suffer, your burden included!
May god give you everlasting peace and strength to your family.