It’s Payback Time as Destiny Reunites Old Friends
By Dr SP Kalantri
Varun Bhargava (VB) came to Sevagram in 1969. He belonged to the first batch of MGIMS. Four years later, he graduated from MGIMS, went to PGI, Chandigarh to earn his MD (Medicine) and established a highly successful practice in Nagpur. His 100-bed hospital — driven by ethics and science — evokes a level of respect and admiration that doctors yearn to have.
When VB was a medical student, Babulalji Ganvir (BG) — a young man in his late twenties — ran a gourmet restaurant in Sevagram. Medical students, eternally hungry, would fill their stomachs with the samosas, kachoris and aloo bondas that came from BG’s frying pans. His canteen served as a hub of social interactions and juicy gossip, where students would share their ecstasies and agonies. Students, and the faculty, would frequent his place for the delicious food available at a throwaway price. And they loved him because he never bothered to track who paid what. Students, coming from small towns, villages and poor families, often ran out of money. BG was a one-stop, 24×7, Sevagram ATM for them. He would happily take care of their financial worries — paying for their tickets, transport, fees, tuitions, hostel rents and mess bills. Never wanting the borrower to feel awkward, he seldom asked for the money back. If he got what was his due, he felt happy. And if he didn’t, he’d simply shrug it off.
Four decades rolled by. Varun Bhargava got tied to his Nagpur hospital; BG was happy running a small shop in Sevagram. In his seventies now, the frail old man began to have angina. He stopped cycling. His chest would ache when he walked a few blocks from his home to the Sevagram square.
BG was admitted to MGIMS. His ECG looked ominous. His clogged coronary arteries no longer quenched his parched myocardium. The doctors tried everything they could, but he looked, and sounded, serious. The doctors chose to transfer him to VB’s hospital in Nagpur.
BG lay on one of the ICU beds in VB’s hospital. Blissfully oblivious that the Sevagram man was in his hospital, VB chanced to see BG when he was on the ICU rounds. He immediately went down memory lane. He recalled the aroma of the aloo bondas, still fresh in his nostrils. He was able to put BG’s name to the face. He asked his team to treat BG as a special guest, arranged for his angioplasty and ensured that BG not only received tender loving care but also did not have to pay a single penny for the procedure.
It was a rare sight. The doctor and the patient were teary-eyed. Tears — symbolic of genuine gratitude, respect and mutual admiration. The passage of time couldn’t diminish their mutual love and affection.
BG was overwhelmed with emotions: VB had not forgotten him after four decades. And VB thanked destiny for giving him a chance to repay his old debt!
Dr SP Kalantri, MD, MPH is Director Professor of Medicine at MGIMS and Medical Superintendent of Kasturba Hospital, Wardha, Maharashtra. http://www.sp.kalantri.co.in