Let me recount another event. It was a Sunday evening in May 1966. I was getting ready to go out with my family when the telephone bell rang. Shirishtai Pai was on the line. She said: "Papa has just slipped and fell down. He is not able to get up.Will you please come and see him?” Shirishtai was my patient for some time for some minor complaint. And her papa was Acharya P.K. Atre. Acharya Atre was very famous for his caustic writings. He edited the Maratha and was a great political force in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement.

I had heard of Acharya Atre - who had not? but had never met him. I rushed to his residence and examined him. It was obvious that he had sustained a fracture of the neck of the femur bone. He was admitted to my clinic for an X-ray.

He needed an operation for his fracture. But many persons, known and unknown, held divergent views. My phone kept ringing all the time Even the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra enquired about his health. Many people kept saying: "Why not consult somebody else? Why not take him to a senior orthopaedic surgeon? Why not at least shift him to a big hospital like the Bombay Hospital?” A very senior orthopaedic surgeon, who had been my teacher, specifically sent a message that I should not treat Acharya Atre but should send the patient to his own Nursing Home. A close friend of Acharya, who was also a senior physician, cautioned me, saying: "Why do you take this responsibility at such a young age? If anything goes wrong, your career will be finished. Better shift him elsewhere". My teacher, the late Dr M.V. Sant, who was also related to Acharya Atre advised me not to operate on him but to treat him conservatively.

I was working on Acharya Atre's case, but left the decision on whether I should operate on him or not to him and his relatives. But Acharya Atre was firm. He said in no uncertain terms: "I do not want to be shifted anywhere. Whatever Dr B does is okay with me". This was the beginning of our long association which lasted till Mr Atre's death. Meanwhile he recovered fully after the operation and was active again in social and political life. He was to face other health problems in his later life. I was always consulted. I became a family member and operated on his wife Sudhatai and other members of his family. Our association has been so close that Shririshtai treats me as her brother. It is my good luck that Acharya Atre and his entire family kept their faith in me at such a young age.

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