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Epitome of service

B. R. P. Bhaskar

EXPERIENCES AND PERCEPTIONS: Dr. P. K. R. Warrier, DC Books, DCB Complex, Good Shepherd Street, Kottayam-686001. Rs. 125.

The author, whom colleagues have described variously as "saintly" and "eminent but controversial," is a remarkable personality who has sailed through life holding fast to the ideals that he imbibed in his youth. When he earned his degree in medicine, he sent a telegram to his father, who was a government surgeon, conveying the good news. In reply, he received a touching letter in which, among other things, his father told him, "Do not make it a saleable commodity."

In this book, written at the age of 83, long after he laid down the scalpel for good, he observes that his father's advice must have gone right deep into his being.

Under Gandhiji's influence, Warrier took to khadi while studying at the Madras Medical College in the 1940s. He stuck to it, braving the college establishment's displeasure. He also came under the spell of Marxism around the same time, and as a government surgeon and college professor he retained his party affiliation, apparently disregarding the service rules. An epitome of selfless service, he endeared himself to countless patients, especially the poor. Successive generations of medical students saw him as a palpable role model.

This book of memoirs is a string of anecdotes that throw light on Warrier's life and times. Puckish humour animates much of the narrative, marked by extreme simplicity. With great tenderness he recalls his long association with his wife, Devaki, whom he had first met in his student days and who became his associate in social and political work. .

The book, like his personality, is inspiring. Unfortunately a spate of literals mars the reading.

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