All dedicated people remain preoccupied with their work and areas of interests. Those extraordinary men usually forget the world outside their area of interests. They create a world of their own and dedicate their time, energy and concentration to achieve perfection in their chosen profession.
I have read about absent minded professors and scientists in books but have never come across one in real life. My father-in-law being a doctor, had many stories to tell about people with whom he chanced to spend time during his professional life. From him, I heard a story about an absent minded doctor.
My father-in-law was, at that time, a house physician in a leading Medical college in Kolkata. He was posted in the department of paediatric surgery where Dr Paul, a few years his senior, was the Registrar of the department. Dad learnt a lot from Dr. Paul and respected him. Dr. Paul also liked Dad for his dedication and sincerity. When Dr Paul’s wedding was finalised, he invited Dad and some others from the department to attend the wedding celebrations.
The days of internship and house staff ship in government run medical colleges are difficult and strenuous. That is the time when junior doctors acquire experience in treating real life patients and learn to diagnose medical situations under the guidance of experienced senior doctors. They invariably have to put in long hours and extra effort during this period. During that gruelling period of life, a wedding invitation usually comes as a welcome break for the soul and an opportunity to indulge the taste buds with cuisine other than the bland food offered by the hostel kitchen. Hence, Dad with his other junior doctor colleagues were looking forward to attend the wedding.
On the day of the wedding, Dad completed his work and went to the paediatric medicine ward for his last rounds before wrapping up for the day and handing over responsibility to the next house staff on duty.
While passing through the ward, he chanced upon Dr. Paul standing at the nursing station and instructing the sisters. Dad looked at his watch to check the date and time and to his disbelief, he saw it was 6:30 pm on 25th February, the day of Dr. Paul’s wedding! “I am not mistaken”, he thought to himself.
“Sir, why are you still here at this hour today? You are supposed to be at home”, Dad asked Dr. Paul with surprise.
“Where am I supposed to be Anil, other than this place? This is where I belong, all these little children need my care”, Dr. Paul answered with astonishment, as if it was just another usual day.
“Is the wedding called off or something?” Dad thought to himself. Hesitantly he asked “It’s the 25th of February today Sir, if I am not mistaken. Today is your scheduled wedding day and it’s time you leave for home, else you will be late for your own wedding. We will take care of the remaining work and join you at the venue. You must rush home now”.
“Oh! Oh! Oh, is it the 25th today? It just slipped my mind, I forgot!” he answered sheepishly. “Yes, it’s time. I must rush home now. My mom will be furious with me!”
Uttering these words, he quickly wound up the job at hand and then left the ward. Needless to mention, he profoundly thanked Dad for the reminder for averting a disaster.
Daddy and his friends attended the wedding and they all had a pleasant evening. This story lingered on as a topic of discussion among his colleagues and friends and Dr. Paul was often teased for this by the doctors in the hospital.
Later, Dr. Paul made a name for himself in the Medical Fraternity and was considered as an authority in Paediatric Medicine. He was indeed a great doctor but an example of the typical absent-minded genius.
*** The cover image is a painting by Aparna Mondal