1976 – 2009
“How difficult it is to sustain a fundamental attitude of rejoicing, which is more than simply being grateful for the good things that God has done. It takes courage and strength to rejoice in the face of life’s struggles, but that is the true measure of faith.”
A few days ago, Bindu called me very early in the morning to pass on some very tragic news – that our young colleague who managed the Kenchanahalli hospital and Ayurvedic programs had died in a tragic and freak road accident near Bijapur. I was too numb to react. I could not internalize either the fact that he was no more, or the violent way in which death came to him. As I sat and tried to come to terms with this event, my mind was questioning this cruel hand of fate. It was in those moments, that the above quote came to my mind.
Dr.Basavaraj Melligeri was one of the finest human beings that I knew. I had met him more than 10 years ago at a students’ conference in Bijapur where I was invited to deliver the keynote address. He was one of the organizers and was responsible for the logistics of my stay and travel. I remember him as a bright, cheerful man with an extraordinary voice. During the interactions with me, he wanted to know more about our work and how he could participate. Normally after a press article about us or a talk that I would give, many young men and women would offer to volunteer and work with us. I would share with them the information on how to do so, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I would also be wondering if this young person would actually be prepared for the kind of work that we were doing in India’s remote villages. I told him that he could contact me after he graduated (he was still a student of Ayurvedic medicine then) and gaining some experience in the practice of the profession.
I was indeed surprised when a couple of years later, he contacted me again and expressed his intent of joining us. That was nearly 8 years ago. He joined the SVYM team and enthusiastically took up the responsibilities at the Kenchanahalli hospital. Gradually, under the guidance and mentorship of his senior colleagues, he took over as the Head of the hospital.
As I try to blur away his death and look at all the good and memorable times that we had when he was with us, I still remember his ‘always–cheerful’ look. He could smile and stay calm even in times of adversity. He always had a great song, usually very apt for every occasion. He was such a warm and hospitable host and completely devoted to patient care and their welfare. I remember chiding him for being obsessed with the welfare of the patients at the hospital inspite of immense personal suffering. But this was the way he liked to live. He was extremely popular amongst his patents, especially our tribal brethren.
Basavaraj’s death is an irreparable loss to SVYM, to the thousands of patients that he so dedicatedly served and to the society itself. All of us at SVYM pray for strength for his wife Dr.Sudha and their families to bear with this tragic loss.
Basavaraj, we will miss you, your laughter, your voice and most importantly the extraordinary human being that you were. May God rest your soul in peace.