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Once there was a very common phrase : those who had drank the water of Chambal river, became rebellions. Likewise, those who born and brought up at Bhagalpur, automatically develop creativities inside their mindsets!
Meet 91 year old veteran doctor, Dr Dilip Kumar Singh, a son of the soil of Bhagalpur who was known for master in the treatment of Kala-azar, a fatal disease on those days. In his youth days, he used to visit hamlets after hamlets in most inaccessible topography in this district on horseback to provide treatments to poor people and created record for best services to the poor and destitute in such areas throughout his life.
Father of noted doctor of Bhagalpur, Dr. Sanjoy Singh, Dr Singh has been busy in compiling old memories in a book form ; “ Mere Anubhab, Mere Vichar” (my experience, my thoughts). Due to old age he developed different complications related to his eyesight or hearing problem but he appoints a secretary who uses to take his dictations for the writing the book.
Earlier he wrote his own autobiography, book on polio, leprosy etc. “It’s my privilege to witness the British era, post-Independence along with different people, patients with the problems and many things in my life. I think it is very important to save the past so that it could be used as reference as well as it could be inspired the new generation also to do some positive work. Now few days are left, I think I should do it for contributing the society,” he explained.
From a medical family back ground, Dr Singh’s microscopic observations on his contemporary period, early days at Zila school, Bhagalpur to Patna medical college via Tez Narayan Jubilee college (present TNB college, Bhagalpur) were unique collections. He recalled how the British was punctual and always respected the values. “I was very small but could recall the incident of a Englishmen who used to visit Pirpainty where we lived to inspect the works of Jamindar there. We first saw a 1920 model Ford vehicle on which the British used to move from Pirpainty railway station. One day the train for Bhagalpur left Pirpainty station before time. When the British reached the station, the station master somehow managed to replace the needles of the big clock on the platform to claim that the train was departed right time. “After listening the station master, the British look on his own wrist watch which was not matching time with the railway’s clock. He threw his wrist watch on the platform and smashed it with his foot,” Dr Singh gave his eye account version.
He recalled how the British patronized Muslims to have Zamindaris at Pirpainty and Kahalgaon areas where Bengali Zamindars were patronage at Bhagalpur and its surrounding areas. “The British who came India just for exploiting its resources, had the abilities to select appropriate people for the works,” he observed.
Dr Singh got enrolment at Zila school, Bhagalpur (1938-1943) and recalled his old days including his involvement with some revolutionaries who were planned to demolish the Zila school building with dynamite. “Mr Plido was the district collector of Bhagalpur and we the students involved in that mission narrowly escaped when he started firing near Dhewar Dwar,” he recalled.
After passing out from TNJ college, Dr Singh enrolled at Patna medical college and shifted to Darbhanga medical college from where he passed out MBBS on 1952. Dr. Singh’s father, Dr Jamuna Prasad Singh was in-charge of Sadar hospital Bhagalpur and was pioneer to establish government hospital at Pirpainty.
Dr Singh started practice at Pirpainty but he had to go to Kolkata (the than Calcutta) for the treatment of his father. Maternal grand-father of Dr Singh, Sashi Bhushan Singh was an eminent lawyer at that time at Kolkata. “Due to the closeness of my maternal grandfather with the than chief minister of Bengal, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, who also was a veteran doctor in his time, we decided to go to him for the treatment of my father,” Dr Singh recalled adding that Dr. Roy asked him to stay with him.
Dr. Singh styed with Dr Roy over three months and witnessed many things which later became very fruitful for him. “That days Upendranath Brahmachari was a well reputed figure in the treatment of Kala-azar as he developed Urea stibamine, the medicine for Kala-azar. In my native place, Pirpainty and its surrounding areas there was hick of fatal disease like Kala-azar. I wanted to learn something from Brahmachari but it was not possible for my direct entry there. So I requested Dr Roy who conveyed my desire to Brahmachari and hence I managed to learn manything from him about Kala-azar,” recalled Dr Singh adding that in latter days he managed many patients cured from the fatal disease at Pirpainty and its adjacent areas. “The doctors at Bhagalpur also used to refer Kala-azar patient to me at Pirpainty,” Dr Singh claimed.
Dr Singh always wanted to have a proper well advanced training from abroad and on 1964 he went for his higher studies at New York city but within a year he had to return back for some family problem. He again went to England and stayed there for studies. In 1971 he again went to America at joined President of American Medical Association.
“The trip was very important in my life, keeping in view the poverty ravaged patients in my areas I always wanted to give them best possible medical services but for that I should have to be an expert. So I requested the concerned people there to give my such training so that I could do all types of treatments right from uprooting a teeth to conduct delivery. They carefully listen to me and arranged a special 6 months training for me there,” Dr Singh recalled.
On 1973 Dr Singh along with noted Indian doctors like A B Mukherjee and A P Mitra was slected at New Delhi to represent India at World Medical Association in Germany to discuss global diseases and steps for countering it.
Medical practice always remains a passion for Dr Singh who used to move one village to another village on horseback. “I curried medicines and some surgical instruments with me on the horse so that I could provide treatment to patients in remote parts or such patients who could not walk to Pirpainty,” he explained.
“Once I found a poor man with a lump weight more than 12-13 kg on his back. The man was very poor and never had a shirt to wear mainly due to the lump. I brought him to my house-turned nursing home (exclusively for the poor) and operated the lump and kept him with me until he was completely cured. Similarly, once I found a disable person, Ramvaran Roy who did not walk. He was an acute patient of chronic austromilities. He stayed at my place over more than 6 months and was cured after some major surgery at free of cost,” he recalled.
“I found a blind aged Muslim couple weeping profusely at a village and came to know since they were old and blind, their wards always remained hostile to them. I brought the couple at my place and managed noted eye specialists from Bhagalpur for operating their eyes. Finally, we managed to returned back their eye sight. Dr Bhawanand Jha, noted eye specialist of that time helped me lot to visit Pirpainty for the treatment of poor people and I so far managed more than 3000 such eye operations in my career,” he pointed out.
Dr Singh recalled his first counter with a leprosy patient. “There were many myths, confusion and many things related with the diseases as people were mostly illiterate and poor. I had to fight to convince such patients and their family members. Over more than 372 leprosy patient get cured with treatment at that time,” he said.
Dr Singh had very good relationship with former chief minister of Bihar, Late Bhagwat Jha Azad and other politicians of that time but he never had any inclination towards politics. “I remained too busy with my patients so I didn’t had any time for politics,” he replied humbly.
In his life, Dr Singh had however had two personnel desires, having a Omega wrist watch and travel through out the world with all existing flights. “During my student days I somehow developed two desires but managed to fulfill it latter with my hard earning money,” he broke with laugh.
At the flag end of his life, Dr Singh still remains very punctual and discipline in ethics. His old age doesn’t allow him for the random practice or social work but he still gives consultancy at free of cost. When asked about the changes in contemporary society and medical profession, he said medical profession is always considered as a novel profession. “It only depends how you are devoted to your profession and how you are treating with it,” he replied. During the long chatting, he however expressed his deep concerned on the costly medicines including the lifesaving drugs. “The government immediate should take some measure to cut short heavy expenditure on treatment, many poor could not afford it till now,” he said painfully.
His son, Dr Sanjoy Singh, a well reputed surgeon here said his father always remain ideal not only for him but for many. “The life style, the concepts and thoughts of such person always plays important for many and also inspire many. It gives a positive massage in the society,” he said.