Dr Naresh, a senior anaesthesia resident in the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, was elated after his father contacted him and spoke to him after seven years.

Seeing his estranged doctor son on COVID-19 duty father calls him after 7 years
Coronavirus Human Interest Monday, April 20, 2020 - 15:40

Dr Naresh Kumar, a senior resident in the Anaesthesia department of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, believes that something good comes out of every crisis. In the same way, the COVID-19 pandemic will be memorable for Naresh, a native of Chennai, because his father spoke to him after seven years.

Moreover, the Kerala Health Minister called Naresh to extend moral support, which doubled his happiness. He was one of the doctors in the special medical team that was first sent to Kasaragod Medical College for 14 days to attend to COVID-19 patients in the state’s worst affected district.

Naresh, a single child, wanted to be an efficient doctor like his father. He always looked up to him, his father was his hero. “I wanted him to be proud of me. I just wanted to prove myself to him. But that did not happen all these years,” Naresh tells TNM.

After completing his MBBS degree, he got admission for post-graduation in Orthopaedics in Gujarat. But he couldn’t stay there as he faced severe ragging, racism and work overload. “I had to drop out of the course and return. Everyone blamed me. They said what I did was foolish,” Naresh recalls.

It was after that he and his father had opinion clashes. After two years of private practice, Naresh joined the Paediatrics MD course at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College. But he found that he was not comfortable in the stream and later changed to Anaesthesia.

“My family was disappointed with my decision. They felt Anaesthesia was not a stream that can bring name and fame to a doctor. My father was unhappy with me,” he says.

“The last time we sat together and chatted was in 2011. After that though we have had some formal conversations he hadn’t spoken to me in the last seven years,” Naresh adds.

Naresh recalls that he published many articles in medical journals to prove to his dad that he was capable. “My father has written several articles in journals, which I also tried. But he was still not convinced,” he says.

Two months ago Naresh had some issues with the seniors in his department. “I was so hurt and felt singled out. I had failed my father, now I felt a failure again. I was deeply pained. Many of my friends turned against me,” he says, adding that his department faculty supported him at that difficult time.

That was the time coronavirus started spreading in Kerala. “My teachers told me all the issues will be resolved as everyone will be involved in dealing with COVID-19. When Kasaragod Medical College was opened to treatment of COVID-19 patients, I was in the first medical team that visited there. Since it was Kasaragod and there were a lot of cases, I thought it was risky and should inform my folks. I told my mother that I was part of this mission,” he says.

A few days into his service in Kasaragod, Naresh got a call from an unknown number. “I hadn’t saved my father’s phone number. It was on the 11th day of our stay in Kasaragod that he called. He spoke for less than a minute. He asked whether I was fine and also told me to take care of myself. But that short phone call meant a lot to me. I got recognition from him after a long time, I had longed for it. And it was for my service this time,” Naresh says, his happiness evident.

On April 17, the medical team left Kasaragod. Later in a casual conversation with Deputy Superintendent of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, Dr Santhosh Kumar, Naresh mentioned about his father contacting him after a long time.

Santhosh Kumar put up a Facebook post on April 18 narrating Naresh’s story. “It was the day after that that I got a call from the Health Minister KK Shailaja. I couldn’t believe that a state minister would contact a common man like me. Like a loving mother she advised me to keep in touch with my father. I was overwhelmed and thanked her,” he says.

Things changed after that, the people who were against him also called and spoke to him. “Many people called me in the last two days. People who were against me also spoke to me affectionately. I’m so happy, I’m thankful to the Kasaragod duty which brought me this good fortune,” he says.

“Above all, after we started our duty in Kasaragod five patients were discharged after recovery. One of them came up to me and said that he remembered me in his prayers. That kind of appreciation I got for the first time. So I believe that if we put our heart and soul into whatever we do, everything will turn out positive eventually,” he says.

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