Magic Words...

From 2017 June my journey has begun as a general surgeon. Previously as a resident and now as a consultant, I usually come across many types of personalities in the form of my patients or their relatives. Few get etched in my memory. Being a positive person in general, I prefer to store only the good memories and not the annoying, mistrusting, judging or arrogant personalities.

I was studying in Pondicherry as a resident and being a Maharashtrian I used to find it very difficult to communicate with patients or even nurses in their language Tamil. Most of the times I used to take the help of a translator ( in the form of an intern doctor or my juniors). Once I was posted for rural phc (public health center) opd, when a poor old man of around 70 had come with complaints of abdominal pain. Ragged and soiled clothes, he was alone and walked with a stick in hand and a humped back. With the help of a translator, I took detail history and examined him accordingly.

It was a small condition treatable with a single medicine which I prescribed and gave him advice regarding diet etc. As he was about to leave, he asked me what my fees were. I informed him that we don’t charge any fees for consultation and that he didn’t need to worry about it. He stood with a pause, took out a 20 rupees note and gave it to me as my consultation charges. I denied it again. To which he said, “consider this as money for your tea doctor, but please take it.” Inspite of being poor, needy, he had a sense of gratitude and felt like expressing it by offering us tea. We didn’t take the money even after his insistence but that was actually what I consider my first consultation charges and blessings for my career.

During residency, there were days when we were overworked and didn’t get the luxury of time to go for breakfast. After 24 hour shift, we used to be back in the wards in the morning. Once, we had operated 25 year old for appendicectomy and he was adviced to be fasting until orders. On the next day morning, we decided to start him on sips of water followed by liquid diet. The wife of the patient was informed accordingly. She was very happy on hearing that and rushed to the canteen to get him something. By the time our rounds was over and we were sitting at the nurses station thinking about next work to be done when his wife came with two glasses of tea and offered it to us. We told her to give it to the patient. To this, she replied that she had seen us working in the hospital continuously and that we hadn’t had the time for snacks and so the couple would have tea only after we doctors had one. I was overwhelmed with her response. Her care, sweet nature, humanity, values had won me over.

In the recent also, I had a patient who was operated for hernia. As soon as the surgery was over, he looked at the anaesthetist and me and thanked us for operating. Those were simple words but they meant something to me. His gratitude, humility, trust is what made him stand apart and etched in my mind.

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”


The magic words – thank you, sorry, please, go a long way indeed. Humility, gratitude, humanity, care for fellow living beings are reflections of one’s soul and character. I always wonder – Wouldn’t this world be a much better place if we all could inculcate in us these good values?