It is with a very heavy heart that I witnessed the end of Jnanapith awardee, Padma Bhushan Prof. U. R. Ananthamurthy, last night, as he succumbed to a multitude of medical problems, in spite of a spirited fight till the end.
I have known Prof. U. R. Ananthamurthy for the last 12 years ever since he developed kidney disease. Our relationship started as the usual patient-doctor relationship, but blossomed into a close friendship of mutual respect, admiration and emotional bonding. His contributions in the field of Literature, Social Justice and Kannadiga pride was well known to me and all of us, but what I learnt of him as a human being will certainly remain with me forever.
He was an extraordinarily good patient who had implicit faith in the doctors and medical team; a very inquisitive and sharp minded individual who was always keen to know his state of health and treatment plans so that he could participate in it. One of his true strengths was that he never let his age or illness gets the better of him. In my opinion led the life of a 25 year old participating in the numerous literary, social and other activities like any normal person, in spite of the physical limitations his health caused him.
A classic example of this was his trip to the UK, when he was shortlisted for the Booker Prize last year. Since we were as keen as he was, in him attending this event, with meticulous planning we were able to arrange for his dialysis in the UK during his visit there. Certainly a very strong willed man with even stronger opinions and the courage to stand by his conviction, amidst his adversities and controversies.
He confided in me, that he listens to no one, including his close family, but the only person he ever listens to was me, as his doctor. He was indeed a proud Kannadiga and always fought for his language and people. A perfect gentleman, who treated a class four employee with same respect as a senior consultant.
I do not think I will ever have the privilege and honour of taking care of any one of the stature of Prof. U. R. Ananthamurthy, truly one of the greatest literary and intellectual giant of our time. He had a strong sense of social justice and was always an illustrious son of the soil.
It has indeed been a great personal loss to me, as his doctor, as much as it has been to his family, the state and the country. I bow down in all humility and salute my departed friend, well wisher, mentor and philosopher.
May his Great Soul Rest in Peace and I extent his wonderful family my heartfelt condolences.
God bless his soul.
Dr. H. Sudarshan Ballal