In Summary
  • I placed him under the care of Dr Ranbhise, a senior physician, who became my role-model when I progressed to my clinical years and taught us medicine.
  • He admitted my father and after a lot of investigations reached the dismal diagnosis of cancer of the oesophagus or the food-pipe.
  • He referred him for surgery to Dr Jones, an American chest-surgeon.

As I said in the last column, I was very happy in Miraj.

Once again, I found myself in a Christian institution with one difference: While St Agnes Convent in Mangalore and St Xavier’s College, which I briefly attended before joining medical school in Miraj, were staunchly Roman Catholic, Miraj Medical Centre was established and run by American Presbyterians, as the full name — AP Mission Hospital — implied.

As a result, beautiful statues of Mary and Jesus, religious sculptures and artistic frescoes were missing but in Miraj I saw evangelism pragmatically conducted with the Bible in one hand and a bottle of medicine in the other. The mending of body and soul was intertwined.

The most vulnerable group in this connection was the ‘untouchables’, the lowest caste among the Hindus, who were looking for dignity and respect.

Conversion to Christianity gave them both and as a result had enough scope to make healthy inroads into this disadvantaged group and conferred on them equality which they richly deserved. I could see that some of my teachers in the medical school were happy converts from the humble, humiliating huts inside which they were born.

Like Mangalore, my stay in Miraj was sullied by a bereavement, which unhappily happened in the first year when I hardly knew my way round the clinical corridors of the institution. My father returned to Belgaum from Karachi soon after I settled in Miraj and since it entailed only a four-hour train journey from Miraj to Belgaum, I used to travel often to visit him.

On my visit in September 1948, he complained of pain in the chest on swallowing for which he had seen Dr Kamath, a general practitioner, who had diagnosed it as ‘heart disease’. “He has given me a ‘mixture’ for two weeks without any improvement,” my father lamented. So I decided to take him to Miraj to give him the benefit of a large mission hospital with its diagnostic facilities and experienced teaching staff.

CARING FOR MY FATHER

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