Dr M.V. Govindappa (in picture) was a typical Mysore gem. Quiet, dignified, understated and much revered. Dr Govindappa’s modest residence, first in Yadavagiri and later in Jayalakshmipuram, was a landmark almost every Mysorean knew, such was the renown of the healing touch of the “foreign-returned” doctor-professor.
K. Javeed Nayeem, a young boy from Chikamagalur, got acquainted with Dr Govindappa as a school boy-patient. And it was a friendship that flowered when Nayeem joined the Mysore Medical College, where the family doctor was a teacher, and reached fruition when Dr Nayeem began practice himself.
Last month, Dr Nayeem was thousands of miles from Mysore when he suddenly remembered Dr Govindappa:
“With the two-and-a-half-hour time difference between Mecca and Mysore, I could visualise him in his trademark blue suit sitting on his favourite cane chair with the morning paper, waiting for the clock to catch up with his readiness to start his morning rounds. Yes, he had to do this every day as he was always ahead of any clock at any given time for any occasion.
“I pulled out my mobile phone and dialled his number and as expected he himself picked up the phone. When I told him that I was calling from Mecca he was delighted to hear my voice and quite surprised too as I had not informed him about my Haj pilgrimage. He said that it was good that I had undertaken this journey and asked me to pray for everybody now that I was in such a holy place. I said I would do that and after a brief chat I hung up.
“The next day while I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep my cousin who was sharing my room with me in Mecca asked me if Dr Govindappa who used to treat his father two decades ago was still alive. I said that he was not only alive and well but still very active too.
“I was wrong as, back home, unknown to me Dr MVG had passed away just a few hours ago. I got the news of his death only the next morning.
“Since his end came while he was examining a patient, he literally died with his shoes on, doing what he had loved to do all his life. It was perhaps a most dignified way to go without the usual infirmity, helplessness and distress of old age.
“But the suddenness of the event certainly shook me. Little did I know that upon my return I would resume my Star of Mysore column with an obituary for him. But uncertainty is what destiny is all about. Like a million others I will miss him too. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.”