A doctor by the unique nature of his profession can cultivate lifelong friendships. Soft words of reassurance, gentle stroking of the hand of the frightened patient are enough to mitigate his fears, especially when the patient is to undergo surgery under a general anaesthetic.

One such frightened patient to whom I had to administer a general anaesthetic was Mrs Jyotsna Bhole, the well-known singer of Maharashtra. She was to undergo a kidney operation. I had already been warned that I had on hand a terrified patient and so, during my pre-anaesthetic visit, I entered her room humming one of her favourite songs.

On hearing my "melodious” hum she turned round and flashed her brilliant smile and wished to be informed about the nature of my visit. When I told her that I was the doctor who was going to anaesthetise her so that the operation could be performed painlessly, she replied: ‘But doctor, you have already made me unconscious with your melodious singing! Now I have no fears!”.

However, she wanted to know if any damage would be caused to her voice box. My experience with Bade Ghulam Ali Khan had, I thought, made me an expert on matters pertaining to the voice-box and I reassured her that everything would be fine-and everything turned out indeed to be fine, thanks to the grace of God. On the first post-operative day when I went to visit her, I found her in unexceptionally good cheer! This was my opportunity, I thought, to hear the noted singer from close quarters. She immediately complied to my hesitant request and in her exquisite voice sang her famous ‘bola amrut bola’. She sang so beautifully and with such ease that an onlooker would never have guessed that she had been subjected to a major surgery and anaesthesia only the preceding day! Since that day we two have become great friends and have nurtured this friendship on a very harmonious and 'melodious' note.

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar.