1Leafing over the pages in my brain in search of new topics to post for Muktodhara is proving to be quite a job at hand-at times intriguing, at times exasperating, and at times fairly nostalgic. I know pretty well that writing on Santiniketan is actually a pandora’s box for almost all the ex-students; if probed the box might supply one with unending stream of possibilities, with stories of all hues and dimension emerging with abundance. So, a request is being put forward to all ex students to explore the possibility, the website Muktodahra might then become a store house of Santiniketan/Sriniketan/Visva Bharati episodes.
ClimbOnly once I fell down from a tree in my middle school days. By then, I became so prolific in climbing difficult trajectories of a tree, that I reckon, in those days I spent more or less 1 to 2 hours each day atop trees, with a pretext to search for fruits but actually just to spend time, most of the times with friends, but at times even alone. Though the Gab tree in Bokul Bithi was our perennial favourite, I personally enjoyed the Bokul tree beside the Udyan Bibhaga partly because it was difficult and tall-ish tree to climb and as the Bokuls were probably the sweetest in that area.
Gaab1One day, all by myself, I was atop the Gab tree in an hour of the morning where we were supposed to be attending our classes. As for me, I bunked the modelling class at that time just because I did not much like Subhasda, our modelling teacher. Subhasda was a student of my father Sri Sukhamoy Mitra at Kala Bhavana, and he somehow formed a firm belief that I had a genuine artistic streak in me and hence used to give extra attention to me at modelling classes, often trying to inject nuances of clay modelling quite emphatically to me. This particular clay modelling exercise proved to be quite strenuous for me. I along with quite a few others instead harboured the idea that modelling classes were meant for notorious school gossiping and not doing much, and the result was I invariably tried to skip his class in one pretext or other and did so quite often.
Phata KadamKukurSo, in one such occasion, I found it convenient to be silently hidden atop the Gab tree devouring the fruits at leisure with no one around, instead of being at Subhasda’s clay modelling class. At that very point of time Nalinidi came along the way and was talking with a few students just underneath me. I was scared to the hilt, as Nalinidi had a well established reputation of being very strict in nature, perhaps the strictest of those times, and she was never fond of naughty boys. In fact she was quite a nightmare for typically impatient boys like us. In any case I was not in the mood to get scolded by her in public space with so many students around, so I sat dead still atop the tree. Each moment elongated in such a suspense that I could hear my heart beats thud within me loudly. Gradually she moved away on her way to the Patha Bhavana office and I was about to heave a sigh of relief when she looked back and up, spotted me, and shouted in a shrill voice ‘Shubhashis, come down from the tree’. Perhaps even before the words struck me, in auto shock wave reflex I just fell down flat from about two storey height of the tree! I was shell shocked and dazed, Nalinidi genuinely embarrassed by the unexpected fall, all the students gathered around me from nearby classes looking angrily (but silently) at Nalinidi. I was carried to the P M Hospital by a senior student in a by-cycle as insisited by Nalinidi with few bruises and fair amount of pain all over my body. Being a regular football player I was more or less sure that all the bones in my body were intact, but one elbow had a severe pain most probably due to a gash of a cut. Even then I was fairly pensive about P M Hospital and facing the CMO DR Sarkar.
NalinidiPMHosp5715Reaching P M Hospital I was taken directly to CMO DR Sarkar. In those days we, the boys of Patha Bhavana, were quite afraid of Dr Sarkar in fracture cases, because in stead of going for an unpredictable X-Ray under equally unpredictable Panuda, Dr Sarkar, a strong man himself, had the habit of inspecting a fracture in a bone by giving strong pulls and observing the response of the patient- if the resulting pitch of the shriek of the patient was sufficiently high he was convinced that it was a fracture. The exercise was a deaded one for patients with genuine fracture, but the method applied was near full proof! At Dr Sarkar’s chamber I was petrified at the prospect of being pulled from all corners and I desperately prayed that my bones were intact especially at the right elbow. Seeing me, Dr Sarkar jumped up from his chair in anticipation of a fracture (if not multiple fractures), his eyes sparkling bright, tears prominantly hanged ready to roll down my cheek. All my hands and legs were pulled and ribs jabbed hard repeatedly, but I hardly let out a shriek clinching my jaws tight. Dr Sarkar almost looked dejected at the lost opportunity of treating a fractured bone. After few stitches and the wounds being dressed by the eternal Mercurochrome that P M Hospital invariably applied on all occasions, I limped back to home only to be scolded mildly by my mother. Thoroughly jilted by the experience, I considered myself lucky to be still at one piece!
MohuaWater sportToday, neither Nalinidi, Subhasda, Panuda, or Dr Sarkar is with us; it still feels nice to recall the incidence. However the doctors in those days in P M Hospital were quite remarkable. I would very much like to record two incidences, one related to Dr Sarkar and another related to Dr Uma Majumder. In my school days, starting from the rainy season to winter, I had regular bouts of chronic bronchitis with very high fever. Not very fond of medicines, the chronic seasonal bouts was a big headache for me as well as to my mother. So, once we decided to visit P M Hospital and contacted Dr Sarkar. He was then familiar with my ‘tree fall’ episode. After preliminary enquiry, he opined that I had a chronic vitamin C deficiency, and promptly advised “Hello, young chap I will not prescribe any medicine for you at your tender age. As you are proficient in climbing trees, climb up guava trees and hog as many green guavas as you can. It will solve the vitamin C deficiency for you!” Well, till this date I never came across such a prescription for any kind of ailment. I had a guava tree in my home only, though I was not particularly fond of those guavas as those were not that sweet and often infected by insects in rainy season, still after coming back from school I spent about another half an hour atop the guava tree in the afternoon gulping quite a few, and only then did I take my bath. The great wonder was the chronic high fever and bronchitis bouts vanished from that very season and I was never inflicted again by such bouts even after 4 decades of that particular prescription! After this episode I naturally formed an high esteem for this remarkable man, Dr Sarkar of P M Hospital.
Umadi (Dr Uma Majumdar)
The incidence related to Dr Uma Majumder happened much later in 1994 AD to be exact. By that time Umadi retired from Visva Bharati, and stopped private practicing for her own health reasons. My child was due in September, my wife was under continuous observation of a reputed gynecologist of Bolpur Sub Division Hospital and everything moved fine. The Doctor was fairly well known to me via the State Bank of India connection, in fact he was very friendy to all the bank staff. As the delivery day approached near, he opined and explained to me by drawing sketches on paper that the slowly rotating baby in mothers tummy at the time of delivery would be in 180% inverted position (i.e legs towards the exit rather than the head) so a Caesarian was necessary. Well, I contacted his suggested nursing home for a bed, and came back home. At home, my mother suggested taking an opinion from Dr Uma Majumder, we contacted her by phone and we visited her house along with my mother. Simply by rubbing her hand adorably around the tummy of my wife, she exclaimed that the baby was in perfect position for a normal delivery, and was bewildered by the sketches drawn by the SD Hospital doctor; and in fact apologized to us for the greedy intention of earning money by unnecessarily performing Caesarian operations by present generation gynaecologists. I was furious, specially since I knew the Doctor very well personally; and thought about having a hard talk with him. It was painful for me to digest the medical bluff. However, I immediately contacted my head office at Kolkata, booked a cabin in a reputed hospital, my wife was well received there, kept admitted for just about 3 and 1/2 days, delivered the healthy child normally, and we were back at Santiniketan within a week with everyone in perfect spirit and health! I hardly had to spend anything as all expenses were borne by State Bank of India. I was immensely shocked at the audacity of the Sub Divisional Doctor to dish out a medical lie to me aided by sketches; and marvelled at the wisdom of Dr Uma Majumder, who could easily detect the correct position of the baby with the expected delivery date dot on without the help of any sophisticated medical instrument. Absolutely amazing!
S Lala (Doctorate Sunandan Lala-Chemistry)
After so many years have passed by, P M hospital now looks swankier, but with less serious medical facilities. Over the time P M Hospital has become more a preliminary stop gap arrangement, where as all serious ailments are methodically referred to other hospitals or private nursing homes. In recent times P M Hospital is in the process of building up much bigger infrastructure; though not much is known about the actual medical facilities that will be offered. Our ex-student Mr Sunandan Lala, grandson of Lt Sri Rathindranath Tagore, for some years has been trying hard to forge a collaboration with the famous cardiologist Dr Devi Setty with P M Hospital Visva Bharati. Only in last month, he was in Santiniketan, vigorously pursuing his effort, after securing firm consent from Dr Setty. We hope the effort materializes within a chalked out time frame. We are also aware that an earlier venture of our ex-student and UK based Doctor Tapas Basu to set up a modern ICU at P M Hospital did not materialize even after more than one year of persuasion. So, in spite of such good intentions, one can not be too sure about how things will move in Visva Bharati. Even after a huge emphasis on transparency in Government run institutes, public in general are never sure about what actually happens within such institutes; and Visva Bharati remains perennially shadowed by controversies of all sorts of dimensions. Still, let us hope for a better future, as it is the natural course to follow.
Santini Bari

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1 Comment to

  1. Shubhashis Mitra says:

    Sukanya Sinha
    Thanks for reminding us about the wonderful doctors and human beings, Dr. Sarkar and Umadi.

    Anindita Bandyopadhyay

    Sumana Saha
    Immensely enjoyed reading this piece Shubhashis Mitra. The unethical practice and greed of medical fraternity of our country has dangerously spread. We no longer feel safe after consulting one physician and always have to seek second, third opinions. Oh, those bygone days when every family used to have their “family physician” and they could be trusted with their very life!

    Sucharita Majumdar
    Very well written Sukulda. I too have many funny as well as not so funny incidents to recollect regarding the P M hospital. It’s always so good to read your piece of writing. Keep on posting.

    Sumitro Deb
    Shubhashis Bhaiya da you are too good with your pen!

    I enjoyed the episodes so vividly brought to life, real nostalgia!!
    Keep it up.
    Shelley dinn1

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