Jnanpith recipient U.R. Ananthamurthy’s demise is a great loss to his close friend and doctor, H. Sudarshan Ballal, who treated him for the last 12 years.
Referring to the acclaimed writer as “a friend, well-wisher, mentor and philosopher”, Dr. Ballal said he witnessed his friend’s end with a “heavy heart as he succumbed to a multitude of medical problems in spite of a spirited fight till the very end”.
Recalling his association with Dr. Ananthamurthy, Dr. Ballal said: “Our relationship started off as a doctor-patient one, which blossomed into close friendship, mutual respect, admiration and emotional bonding.”
Apart from his contribution to the fields of literature, social justice and Kannadiga pride, what I learnt of Dr. Ananthamurthy as a human being will certainly remain with me for ever, said Dr. Ballal. He said Dr. Ananthamurthy was an extraordinarily good patient, who had implicit faith in the medical team. He had a very inquisitive and sharp mind and 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 get the better of him, and in my opinion, led the life of a 25-year-old participating in numerous literary, social and other activities, despite the physical limitations of his ill health,” he said.
A classic example of this was his trip to the U.K. when he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize last year. “As we were as keen as he was in his attending this event, with meticulous planning, we were able to arrange for his dialysis in the U.K. during his visit there,” Dr. Ballal recalled.
“I do not think I will ever have the privilege and honour of taking care of anyone of the stature of Dr. Ananthamurthy,” he said.