Every individual is a story. Only some are worth telling. When the Heart Speaks is one such story. But it is not just an individual’s story - memoirs of a cardiologist. This individual story unfolds within, and interplays with, a bigger story. How the two stories walk shoulder to shoulder, with a seamless ease, in this book is worth following. Dr Kaul throws up occasional flares in the face of that bigger story, and it brightens up to tell us much more than an individual story. It also creates an occasion, a moment, to bring in other stories and make it brighter. If only we have the heart to listen to all the stories, without taking fright from anyone’s outpouring, or obsessively wanting to fill the entire space with one’s own. A single-story-mindset diminishes the human heart. So let the stories from Kashmir flow from heart to heart, and let there be a cardiologist of Dr Kaul’s repute and professional standing by our side – because some stories can explode our hearts.
It is not a book review in a typical sense, for those well versed in this genre of writing alone can do justice to the craft. I am keenly listening to a story, and wanting to add to the atmosphere where stories are told, where stories are heard. Where hearts are not smothered, and where souls are not stifled. Where humans are not reduced to identities. Where the human relations spread over generations and geographies are not squeezed into oppressive, obscurantist territorial, mythical or ideological narratives.
We need to pool our stories without resorting to mawkish pretence, fancy lies, and fake smiles; without undermining the sensibilities of each other, without overriding the collective self of one another. Human heart is a bigger universe where empires are like dust particles in an endless desert. Dr Kaul knows well that there is a human heart that can only be seen through a human eye, not surveillance. He knows that such a heart talks. Let’s all listen to what that human heart says. And that requires having one. Dr Kaul, nay Dr Khan, has that heart. May his heart become the seat of a wider conversation.
May be some texts are understood better by laying the author dead, our post-modernist insistence. But there are some stories that come from live authors. They are as much a part of book, as the book is a part of them. This book is a story of a person who lives an authentic life, not just as a professional, but as an individual. He knows there is a heart that pumps blood, and he knows it well as a cardiologist. But he knows there is a beat in the bosom that says something. He has the ear to listen, and a mind to decipher the sound. That is what makes his story – When the Heart Speaks – interesting.
Dr Kaul is more than a known name in Kashmir, is not an information. His patients would tell you how he made a difference to their lives. But I know him not as a cardiologist in the first place, but as a man with substance that goes beyond his profession. This book, if read carefully, throws ample allusions to him being a conscious soul. He is not the kind that immerse in material rewards of a professional practice and cut themselves off from what happens around. Dr Kaul is a live mind, and a pulsating heart, alert to the finer impressions of life. He is intimately connected to his parents, his relations, his friends and colleagues, and all the people he comes across. That is the beauty of his person. And this book records it all.
I know him as a man who connects. A man who doesn’t stop anywhere. His mission to see people with a healthy heart takes him from one corner of J&K to another. The Gauri Kaul Foundation that he set up gives us a peek into how he connects to his motherland through his profession. This book, like the columns of Dr Kaul in GK, is not limited to heart as a piece of meat, as a part of biological system, that needs treatment. It has the elements of an outpouring too. The book would tell you that Dr Kaul is a human feeling that mixes with other feelings around him. A line in the Forward of this book, by M. A. Pathan, former Chairman, Indian Oil Corporation, captures it brilliantly: “It is difficult to discern distinctly which is his first love – Kashmir or cardiology.”
The book has a subtle way of telling us how the society in Kashmir operated in its finer ways; how families educated their children, how communities related to each other, how histories morphed into practices, and how politics travelled to persons. And in all this Dr Kaul is a lesson for our younger generation who want to excel in their professional fields. He is also a lesson to all of us, who are now on the verge of ‘old age’, who think it is time to walk back to pavilion. Look at this man, how active, how energetic, and how focussed he is even when he has achieved so much in his life. Even at this stage of life he is more enterprising than many young ones. And he also retains humility. Reading this book, note down your lessons, and follow them with a single minded focus.
Dr Kaul’s individual geography is very widespread. It is laid out from Delhi to Kashmir – intriguing! In Delhi it is spreads into a vast territory called India, and even goes beyond the borders, impressive! In Kashmir his story extends from North to South through Centre. Shopian-Srinagar- Sopore, interesting!
I met Dr Kaul first time in Srinagar at his Gauri Kaul Foundation Centre, Chanapora. Next time I met him at Hawal, ( pronounce it as Haul) Shopian, at the inauguration of Prasad Joo Khan Heart Centre. I hope we meet at Sopore someday. There is also a story in Sopore - of an individual, like Dr Kaul. He was a Professor with a passion for educating children. His story also panned out in the lap of, and in the face of, a bigger story. May be someday we share the story, and Dr Kaul camps in at the campus the late Professor set up in Sopore. Welcome to another story.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.