I had a friend who was a doctor in the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow and also a senior professor in the department of gastro-entomology. His wife was also a senior professor in another department. Both husband and wife were known for their competence and patient care. It was always a joy to interact with them and I always enjoyed their company. This doctor friend of mine was suddenly detected for a stomach ailment, which called for the immediate opening of his stomach. When the surgeon did so, they found that the patient was suffering with the cancer of the intestines, which was at an advanced stage. Everyone was surprised as well as shocked to see this and more so in case of the patient himself being a gastroenterologist. Seeing the condition of the stomach, it was assumed that the patient would not live for more than six months.
One can imagine the state of mind of the patient in such a position. But this friend of mine was a different person. Not only was he different, his family members also were different. All of them refused to say ‘no’ to life and accepted the reality gracefully. The doctor-patient had risen in his life from a humble background and gave to the society much more than he had taken from it. Even in such a condition, he decided to give the society whatever he could during the expected short span of his life. He made a request to the director of the Institute and asked for the services of a stenographer. He wanted to dictate the story of his life, and through that autobiography he wished to pass on all the wisdom he had acquired in his short life. The request was accepted and accordingly, he started dictating. Not only this, he continued to deliver lectures also, as long as he was in a position to do so. All along, his condition was deteriorating, though at a slower pace than was predicted. He and his family also had to entertain a good number of relatives and well-wishers who came to see them, as they learnt about the development.
I also visited my friend a few times during this period. His actual condition was never reflected on his face and his responses were always positive. He was continuing with his book, afraid only of the deadline set for his life, but he was confident of seeing it through. Eventually, he won and his book was released fifteen days before he passed away. The book was released by the then governor of UP. It was one of the most solemn events of my life. There was not a single eye without tears. The author had challenged Nature and had lived a full year against an optimistic lease of six months. The book was titled ‘Metamorphosis’, an apt description of the author’s life and a true inspiration for others.