Title: The Fourth Sun Sign: From A Doctor’s Diary
Author: Santanu Chaudhuri
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi 110070
Pages: 180, Price: Rs. 350/=
Vasundhara Patwardhan, a renowned Marathi writer has, in her autobiographical account, said there are just two places where one cannot hide anything. His or her personality reflected in her or her talk and behaviour. Which are those two places? One is any religious place and second is dispensary/consulting room of a doctor. One has to open his mind in order to get what he wishes or get cured of the ailment he is suffering from. Doctor becomes like a God for him or her. Doctor has to know, apart from the symptoms of the ailments, family history of the patient, his lifestyle, profession, likings, habits, stress if any, aspirations and so on. The patient’s way of narration, his choice of words, his language reflects his education, social-economic class he belongs to, cognitive abilities and mindset. These things help doctor to understand patient’s personality and many a time a probable cause of the ailment he is suffering from.
A doctor with name and fame meets hundreds and thousands of patients that helps him to understand the human being. Some patients’ stories win a permanent place in doctor’s memory. And if a doctor is a genius, has a good pen, can spare time to write down about the lessons he has learned from his patients, he gives a literary form to his experiences to enlighten common man. Dr Santanu Chaudhuri, a well-known oncologist, who is practising almost three decades, has done the same thing. He has written short stories based on the patients he has come across over a period of three decades. ‘The Fourth Sun Sign’ From Doctor’s Diary is a collection of his short stories of the patients who have become part of his memory forever. His style of narration is amazing, his descriptive power is wonderful and his language is lucid. His pen has a literary flavour.
Titles of the stories reflect Dr Chaudhuri’s are catchy (For examples, Flame of the forest, Genesis, The Estuary, Garden of Hope, The Fighter Professor, The Golden Sparrow). Every story takes the reader into a different world. A world of courage, mental strength, intelligence, human bonding, passionate love, sacrifices etc. Flame of Forest is a story of Nilesh, who was down with blood cancer. His father, Santosh, was a worker in a horticultural nursery. Nilesh responded very well to the very aggressive treatment he was given. Over a period of time, he comes out of the disease. As a token of love and gratitude Santosh gives Dr Chaudhuri a small sapling of bottle brush. Dr Chaudhuri gets busy in his daily work and gradually Nilesh and Santosh faded in his memory. But Santosh and his wife have not forgotten what doctor did for their son. Family with minimal means did not know how to express its gratitude and love to doctor. But Shantabai offers him her baby girl, as a gift! She says, ‘please bring her up the way you want, make her a doctor like you.’ That makes Dr Chaudhuri speechless and readers stunned.
Genesis is a story of Prathama, her courageous fight with cancer, her love for her Teddy, her loving father Ratan and a dawn of happiness heralded in her life. Her strong bonding with doctor results in a wonderful gift to him – her personal diary. Dr. Chaudhuri has narrated this story in a wonderful way.
Garden of Hope is story of a poor farmer, Manik, with a tremendous capacity of selfless love. He loved nature and human being with same intensity. Manik was also a cancer patient. He succumbs to the disease he was suffering from but gives whatever he has – two thousand rupees and a transistor – to Dr Chauduhuri’s son Soham, Dr Chaudhuri, after Manik’s death, donates all the money Manik had to Snehanchal but the transistor is still with his son Soham – his legacy from his Daddu- Manik.
The fighter professor is story of tremendous courage and strong will power of Prof. Maj. Durga Dixit. Dr Chaudhuri, after her demise, comments, ‘she left the most wonderful gift for us – her life as an example to follow; her courage to emulate; her spirit to imbibe, her dedication to adopt.’ The Golden Sparrow tells us how the Frankenstein (of orthodox thoughts and social customs) that we create, grows more powerful than us and overrides us to the extent of even destroying our lives and how new, educated, ready to follow rules of their heart gives a chance to an ailing old lady to fight with cancer. All the 15 stories of this collection enlighten readers and underline the importance of courage, mental strength, power of love, sense of gratitude and passion to live life.