Human life does not always follow a charted course. Though predestined by forces beyond one's control, the journey through life is not always by design or ambition but can often be due to an incident which can have a far-reaching effect on the lives of those around. Some such force in my life - that of my mother - took me into medicine quite inadvertently. Desirous of making a quick headway into an earning life, my decision to join the Engineering stream was revoked by my mother's intense desire that her son should become a saviour of many lives-like how my father was saved in the pre-antibiotic era at the hands of a very senior and wise surgeon-Dr G.M. Phadke—in the mid-forties.

I entered the portals of the medical college with no great ambitious plans or desire-indeed, with a significant amount of apprehension as to how five or eight or nine long year will pass before I could be on my way towards a decently earning professional. This was more than four decades ago—1950 to be precise when money and material gains did not rule the roost as it does now. I joined the Medical stream-mainly by accident but it did make my mother immensely happy and for me that was of supreme importance.

In 1992 as I look back on what I consider to be an eventful period in my life, I think mother would have been very happy of her insistence in my joining medicine. I am naturally very proud to be a medical professional—a profession in which science, art and human values can harmoniously blend, unlike in any other profession. I am not being covertly or overtly chauvinistic about my profession. There cannot be any denial that in no other profession is one face-to-face with another fellow human being in the search for health and happiness.

The practice of medicine cannot fail to convince one about the agility of human existence. Most common diseases which afflict mankind are self-limiting and one is always better the next morning. Nonetheless, were it not for the spectacular progress of medical science in controlling infections and bacterial diseases, millions of lives would have been lost worldwide. It is in dealing with serious human ailments which afflict our civilization today that one realizes the limits of modern medicine. For atherosclerosis, heart disease, strokes, cancer, asthma, chronic arthritis, degenerative nervous system diseases etc., we have no real answers even today, though much progress has been achieved.

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