BY ABDULLAH BIN ZUBAIR
We all know, that being a doctor is not an easy profession. Doctors have a hectic schedule and don’t have time for idle gossiping. Usually, people don’t know much about a doctor’s personal life experiences. In Kashmir, being a doctor is considered an awe-inspiring job.
There is an admirable social status and acceptance attached to this profession over here. However, people don’t actually know the arduous journey of becoming a doctor. Perhaps because the life of reputable doctors is unknown to the world.
The people only see the success, the tip of the iceberg, not the struggle and sacrifice behind that success. And Prof (Dr) Upendra Kaul, popularly known as Dr U Kaul in Kashmir, has taken up the task of writing down his life in a book named “When the Heart Speaks” (Konark Publishers). It is a lovely 190-page read, straight from the heart of a world-renowned cardiologist.
In this book, Dr U Kaul becomes a storyteller. He pours his heart into the paper to describe the tale of a doctor. Aptly fitting in the wisdom of Rumi—“The heart has its own language. The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak”. This is no ordinary narrative.
This is the life of a Padmashiri- recipient cardiologist born in a Pandit family. This is the story of a Kashmiri who has witnessed the horrors post-1990. This is the autobiography of a person who has found the purpose of his existence. This is a tale of the son of the soil, the one who never forgot his roots.
The author dedicates this book to his mother, late Gauri Kaul and is incredibly affectionate towards her. The fact that the author has established the Gauri Kaul Foundation in the memory of his mother and started projects and clinics in her name testify the depth of his bonding with his mother. Not only this, he has also named his house in Srinagar as “Gauri Manzil”.
His mother used to watch DD Kashir and sing along, to the Kashmiri songs. It was his mother’s dream to have a house in the valley where they could live. He worked hard and made his mother’s wish come true.
The book starts with an introduction to the author’s ancestry. His paternal grandfather, the late Prasad Joo Khan, was a lands record officer while his maternal grandfather was a hakim (doctors who use traditional herbal remedies).
The author’s father, Mr Prem Nath, was born in Hawal, a townlet in district Pulwama near National Highway 444. The author’s mother, the late Gauri Kaul, was born in Shopian, but raised in Srinagar. There was a difference in the way the couple lived.
The author was born to them in Srinagar. During those times, women’s education was discouraged. Once a girl eloped from the local school with her “lover” and went to Bombay. Due to this incident, the education of the author’s mother was put to a halt. His mother always had this grudge of not getting a formal education.
The book also gives us an insight into the Kashmiri society back then, especially the non-Muslim society. The “High-caste” Pandits were not allowed to eat bread made by Muslim bakers. Their house in Hawal was a 5-storey building, in fact, the largest building in the area. The house stands out from others even to this day. Proving that the author’s family held quite a prestige and prominence.
Dr U Kaul was first schooled at Lahore Montessori School, Jawahar Nagar. In Grade 5, he joined Government Model School in Ludlow Castle, Delhi. Dr Kaul was delighted to visit Kashmir during vacations. After leaving school, he joined the Premedical Hans Raj College, University of Delhi. Later he got his MD Medicine and DM cardiology degree from Maulana Azad Medical College. Besides, he is the first qualified cardiologist of Kashmiri origin.
Dr U Kaul has travelled globally to seek excellence in his profession. He has visited lots of countries like the USA, France, Pakistan, UK, China and Australia.
The entire book reflects the love of the author for Kashmir. His yearning to visit and explore Kashmir as much as possible. One of the author’s childhood friends, Sudhir, motivated the author to watch a newly released movie Junglee. The movie was shot in Kashmir. This motivated Dr U Kaul to bunk school and watch the movie. The author was so fascinated to see the valley in the cinema that he watched the movie many a time.
One of the incidents chronicled in the book that I like the most is about Sohan. A physicist whose job is to analyze stones and rocks, Sohan is a geologist. He resides in Melbourne. One day he had to make a passage for his house and needed to cut bricks to the shape required. On an off-day, he took a stack of bricks to his lab and used an advanced laser cutting machine to cut those bricks!
The book also has a middle insert with pictures from the author’s life. All these photos make the reading experience delightful as we connect visual value to the story. The audience need to connect personally with the story. This section is the synopsis of the book. Through pictures, the author showcases his life from his childhood to recent endeavors. These visuals augment the meaning of the text. The picture that attracted my attention most was the author posing with former cricketer Imran Khan at Rawalpindi airport in 2011.
The book follows the author’s childhood, renaming of their caste, initial education, and personal life journey to becoming a cardiologist. This book is written simply and elegantly. It is an interesting read. Written in an engaging chronological way, the book carries some funny and beautiful anecdotes experienced by the author in his life. The work and determination behind this book is realistic because this book feels like it’s been written by a professional writer rather than a doctor!
The one thing that I found a little jaded was the middle part of the book. This part becomes more of a medical history of Dr U Kaul instead of his enlivening life. But that might be necessary to recount author’s notable accomplishments, winning of awards and immense contributions. Nonetheless, in this part of the book, my attention slipped off occasionally.
When The Heart Speaks, is a journey of struggle, sacrifice and simplicity. The book teaches us the art of healing and inspires us towards the path of peaceful coexistence. It motivates readers to leave a legacy of love and respect for the greater good of the people.
Besides being a responsible father, the book reveals how efficiently the author performed his role as a son. This memoir describes the actual meaning of commitment towards the cause and determination towards the duty. This book is a perfect script for a biopic, breaking all stereotypes.
I would rate the book 5/5 - Fantastic! A must-read.
The book is yet to be released, but you can get your copy from amazon.in
Student of DPS Srinagar, Abdullah is an author of “No Place For Good” and is a Fellow Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC).
Author can be reached at: email@example.com
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.