Thursday, 16 October 2014

Dr Manu Kothari: An Obituary

'Truth is Simple and Falsehood is Extremely Complex'

Abhijit Mukherjee
‘There must be a healthy disrespect between a student and teacher – A Student should Question, question and question to learn the truth.’ It is this principle which was preached and practiced by this great teacher of Medicine Manu Liladhar Kothari till the last day of his life. Our Sir (though I have nothing to do with the profession of medicine or the subject per se) left us for his heavenly abode at 5.30 AM of 16/10/2014 keeping us devastated and dumbfounded.
It was in 2002 I met Sir and his co-author Dr. Lopa Mehta in their study of KEM / GS Seth Medical College after reading his “Other Face of Cancer” and expressed that why can we not have a website that would make his work reach the masses and generate interest among the viewers to get into the depth of “Other Face of Cancer”. He immediately agreed. My next submission to him was ‘let us talk to the official media and get them know about your work’ because I argued ‘in today’s world if you are not there in the media you are nowhere’. I was taken aback by his reaction. He told me – ‘Look we are not even Pune returned, our work is an attempt to seek the truth and we have never felt about its propaganda so we do not have any expectations from this media’. I internalized his reaction and realized I have met a man who is a true scientist, gives a damn to propaganda and the quest for him is for the truth and truth only. His work on Cancer has challenged probably all the prevalent notions of Cancer ranging from Early Detection, to cause, prevention and treatment. While inaugurating the book “Cancer–er Purono Bhoy and Notun Chinta” at Jibonanda Sabha Ghar of Kolkata his voice reverberated “Cancer can never be detected early”. He had been scathing and unhesitant in his words when it came to truth, his Other Face of Cancer has gone in the history of medical literature as “revolution within the politics of heath”. Ivan Illich further commented “This is the first book that puts the layman into the position to useexpert advice rather than be used by the expert.”
There are few people in this world whose practice and preaching are at tandem. Manu Kothari is probably further exception to demonstrate it with his own death – a death which could not have been more dignified. His book on Death “Living Dying” drove home the point that death and disease are independent and that death is function of time and disease is a function of body. He often used to say “With each breath–in you inspire and with each breath–out you expire, if you have your quota of breath remaining you will inspire again”. Just the day preceding his death he had a hectic day consulting, avid discussion with his daughter-in-law, usual play time with his grand – daughter and having his dinner with the entire family, reminding to be woken up by 5.00 AM next day, he did wake up with complaint of uneasiness and breathlessness, by 5.30 AM it was all over.  What could be bigger testimony of “Living Dying”!!
Dr. Kothari had recently authored books on Blood Pressure, Immunology and AIDS. All these books like the earlier ones again have questioned the prevalent notions. His book on environment “GAIA’s Dying Declaration” will remain as one of prime reference point for all environmental activists.
Sir’s demise has left an irreparable void in our lives, but his works will remain immortal and illuminate the path of innumerable truth seekers. His values and principles like “Truth is Simple and Falsehood is extremely complex” will remain engraved in the minds of commoners like us. We pledge solemnly to carry on spreading his work and let people know the “Other Side” too.

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