We exited the Radiology department, and the hospital building, and started to walk towards the Institute building. Vaishali kept talking about the department, about the faculty there in her time, about the academic program, the training, the equipment they had back in her day, while I kept thinking about Lahiri Dada, the Cardiothoracic surgeon who was my supervisor, and such an influencing force in my life.
Dr T K Lahiri, now awarded the Padam Shri by the Government of India for his selfless service to humanity, was a graduate of the Cardiothoracic training program of AIIMS, New Delhi when the program was in its infancy, and admissions were being done by invitation, or through recommendation of meritorious students. Dr Lahiri was the second batch of Cardiac surgeons to pass out from this prestigious institute of India. He had been pursuing his surgical residency program in the United States, and had been invited to be a part of the training program by the then Director of the institute.
After he passed out, he chose, on invitation again, to join another institute of eminence which was coming up with the blessings of the veteran freedom fighter and educationist, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. The University in which this institute was being built was the Banaras Hindu University, and the Institute was then known as the College of Medical Sciences (it would later be upgraded to the Institute of Medical Sciences). The first Principal-Director of this autonomous College of Medical Sciences, was Prof K N Udupa, another stalwart in the field of medicine, and one who was head hunting, at that time, for faculty who would populate his infant institution. Thus, Prof Lahiri came to be recruited to IMS, BHU, but we must stop here now, for Prof Lahiri’s story is a long one, and it will overshadow what we are trying to dwell on here……Vaishali’s reunion.
We walked back to the Institute building, looking around, talking animatedly, reminiscing about old days. On our way we passed the dilapidated, wrought iron gate on our right side, hanging loosely on its hinges, and kept partly closed by a chain on a lock. The gate was as we remembered it from more than two decades ago; maybe it was ageless too! The gate, we knew, was a short cut which led one inside the hospital premises again, through a cement and stone walkway, covered with a corrugated cement roof supported by iron poles. The walkway passed by the Hospital Lecture Theatre, HLT for short, which is where our clinical classes were held. Past the HLT the path bifurcated into two, one leading back to the main hospital, the radiology section, blood bank, the CSSD area, HLT-2, and the main hospital building, the other leading to the private rooms and the Ayurvedic operation complex.
Facing this ageless iron gate which lead into the hospital, across the road, on our left side as we walked back to the Institute, was another iron gate; smaller, in a better state of repair, and leading to another building where we had spent a considerable amount of our time. This small, one room building, had a spire on its top, and a covered verandah running all around the single room of the building. A sizeable open area, paved with stones, and suitably populated by shrubs, flowering plants, and some ancient trees skirted the verandah and opened out on to the road through the gate of which we are talking now. This building, whose business was conducted out of a single room, and where we had been such frequent visitors, was the hospital temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey God in the Hindu pantheon.
To be continued ……………
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