Dr. Bikash Bhattacharya
The day after Christmas 2014 I got a text from Mini saying that her father had passed away unexpectedly. In my shock I blurted it out loud without realising that Rahul could hear me. He's dealt with death a lot in his eight years but it never gets easier, does it? He sat down near my mother for comfort and quietly asked, "Is Daktar Dadu gone? Who will look after Bhai then?" There is so much trust and dependence in his response.
I've known Uncle for fourteen years. First I was his son's ditsy girlfriend, and then, after his children left the city for their studies, I was that girl who kept popping in on his wife. We got friendlier then. After Rahul was born our experience with his first paediatrician was pretty shattering. When I was fretting about not being able to find a doctor we could trust Beq reminded me that I could go to his father. And that's when Vicky and I first turned to Uncle in his professional capacity. Over the last eight years we have had the inexpressible comfort of knowing that Rahul was in the hands of a doctor who viewed him more as a grandson than as a source of money. Nor did Uncle ever accept charges from us, to our considerable embarrassment. We called upon him at all hours, visited him at home with a baby and did all the other panicked things first-time parents do. As Rahul grew older there were fewer professional visits but we met socially and as always depended on Uncle to remind us of things like follow-up vaccinations.
When I was expecting Puchke, before I found myself a gynaecologist I knew I had to have Uncle at the birth. I was prepared to compromise on my own care if need be because I knew with him around no child of mine would be in any way endangered. I built my entire pregnancy around his recommendations, and found myself in the hands of doctors and technicians who respected him highly and treated me accordingly. The only thing I vividly remember from the birth itself is his excitement as he announced that the baby was a boy. He was a doctor in that OT but he was also a Dadu, a grandfather, proudly weighing the healthy little newborn.
This post is awfully hard to write. I've been putting it off for a whole month because if I don't write it he's not gone.
After Puchke had his first shots away from the hospital, Uncle called up to check on him the next day. Over the years he's scolded me for not knowing more and worrying less, joked with Vicky, watched Rahul grow. I was counting on talking to him about weaning Puchke, checking milestones, soothing my fears, in January.
Instead, he died at the hands of an inept technician over a scan. And Vicky and I -- and Rahul -- feel lost. We've found another paediatrician and he's no doubt very nice and knows what he's doing. But he isn't Daktar Dadu. Nobody is.