It is on this date last year that father passed away at the age of 70. This blog site was his contribution to society in the last leg of his life after doing public service as a medical doctor and administrator for close to three and a half decades. As I write today on his first death anniversary, on the site that he created and helped spread knowledge on yoga and spirituality; I not only miss him dearly but also feel a profound sense of gratitude towards him and pride to be his son.
I stayed at home with parents till class 10th; growing up with my 2 sisters. Besides the fond memories of those times, the love, affection and care with which my parents dealt with the kids; I think the values my father taught not only by words but by living them day-in and day-out has become an integral part of me as well. “Integrity” and “pursuit of excellence” was evident in whatever my father did. His lessons on how “one should not compete with others but strive to do the best in pursuit of excellence” has since become a mantra for me and has helped me in all stages of my life.
Father was instrumental in the education of all his 3 children; guiding us all the way. I still remember how delicately he handled the situation when I was terribly homesick and fled back home from hostel after I joined college for 11th standard; taking the right decision rather than the emotional one, which turned out to be very important going forward. Also, I am deeply thankful for his total involvement after the 12th class for my higher education, during counselling sessions for admission into IIT; which shaped my career. My 2 sisters would attest to the fact that he was by far the most influential person in all steps of the way in our education. Being located in a small town most of the time when we were studying, not well-connected to the world as is now-a-days; father still having a broad outlook was instrumental in our upbringing and education.
The commitment and passion with which father did his work was exemplary. Any patient could ring the bell at whatever time of the day/night at our home and he was there to help. Do not remember even an instance when he started late to work, being available for people during the designated hours where most of his colleagues would hardly demonstrate this trait. I personally have little insight into his work as the ADMO and CDMO of Bargarh, but what I hear from people who worked with him is that he transformed the way the district ran and taught the staff what district administration was all about. The immense respect his hospital staff have for him and the way the public love him in Padampur and Bargarh where he did most of his work stand testimony to his great contributions. I had lots of conversations with him about his work when I visited home; loved the way he enjoyed everything he was doing. After retirement when we stayed together; he fondly remembered his work, was so satisfied and proud of the work he did.
The transformation he had to make from a dedicated public servant to that of a retired family person away from his social circle back in Odisha was tremendous. He started practicing yoga and focused on spirituality, learnt using computers within a very short period of time and got into social media as well as blogging; which became his favourite engagement. It took a year or so for him to get used to the change post retirement but after that he was totally involved with the family, enjoying his stay at Bangalore and still contributing back to society through digital media. His giant intellect and humility was bound to help him in the transformation to partake in aspects of life he rarely did pre-retirement.
Then struck the cancer, a major surgery and radiation therapy. It was hard to see him go through that struggle, but what stood out for me was the courage with which he faced it and never gave up. The body became weak but until last few months when he became really sick, it was always mind over matter and he found ways to derive a sense of purpose and went about his blogging and engagements though social media platforms, spreading knowledge and wisdom. Even in the last days of his life where he struggled with pain, he taught us how to value life and how one can find a way if there is a will.
Words fall short in expressing his qualities; as a father, as a dedicated public servant, as a doctor and as a guide & teacher to many. So proud of his work but so humble at the same time, so strict in ensuring values and principles are adhered to in the family but so caring and loving at the same time, enjoying what he did at work to the fullest but always contributing to the society at the same time, fighting for life towards the end but teaching us the value of life at the same time, outwardly involved most of his life but delving deep inwards at the same time; a life lived to the fullest though it was cut short unfortunately.
Sat sat pranam to gem of a human being who I was privileged to have as father, friend and guru.
-Debashish Panda, son of Dr Mahesh Chandra Panda