From the eyes of a Poet Doctor

Dr. Pavan Shorey

‘And they lived happily ever after!’ This phrase has perhaps been a part of ninety five percent of the fairy tales, movies, stories that we may have read during our lifetimes (except for those who have a penchant for tragic endings). Most of them are simple stories – A boy and a girl meet, they fall in love, they get married, have children and they live happily ever after. What if it’s not happily ever after? What if one of them passes away? What does the other do then? Can someone still lead a happy life without your better half? How does one deal with such a loss?

A couple of weeks ago, in a strange reading binge (these days watching binges are more common) I read two books by the same author- Dr. Pavan Shorey.

His first book ‘Conversation on a Park Bench’ narrates a story about a 28 year old man Vivek Sharma, who loses his wife Radhika in a car accident. In one moment, they were happily speeding at the speed of 100 km per hour on the Jaipur Delhi highway when a truck coming from the wrong side hit them and changed Vivek’s life forever. In the aftermath of the accident and Radhika’s death, Vivek is constantly plagued with guilt and depression when he meets Dr. Madhav who helps him to conquer his grief and gain a deeper insight into life through insightful conversations. The book is peppered with conversations which weave in stories about human existence.

Conversations on a Park Bench
The Mountain Deer

His other book is titled ‘The Mountain Deer’ which is contemporary retelling of Katha Upanishad, an ancient Indian scripture which narrates the conversation between Nachiketa and Yama, the God of death. In the Mountain Deer, a young man Sarvagya ‘Shelly’ Pant, a resident of Mumbai starts questioning the very meaning of life when his grandmother breathes her last in his arms. When he has a heated argument with his father, the latter banishes him to his hometown in the Himalayas. The book takes the reader into Shelly’s tryst with the truth as he starts questioning his very existence and embarks on a very interesting spiritual journey.
Naturally, when one reads such books (which have no picture of the author), one inadvertently creates the author’s image in the mind. In our first meeting, I was almost expecting to see a saffron clad monk-like, serious, solemn man who would start talking about purpose of life the moment we would meet. However, the person I met was casually dressed in jeans and T-shirt with a chilled-out vibe. His friend Nihal Mathur describes him as a doctor with a heart of a poet. So, I was prepared to hear some serious poems on the trials and tribulations of life when he recited a poem on a completely unexpected theme-

The Bespectacled Girl

Your spectacles
You set aside
For they imprison your eyes
Your eyes, they seek release from the glassy cage
You have so fashionably put

Your eyes
So distant
So remote
I seek warmth and mischief in them

For your eyes stripped off your spectacles
Will open windows to your heart.

He was quite candid. “In medical college, I had developed a huge crush on this senior student who used to wear spectacles. I wrote this poem for her but never shared it with her.’
So, does he write poems often? ‘Oh, yes! I have been writing poems from eighth class. I had written another poem which talked about the plight of the migrant labourers during the pandemic.

A Migrant’s Song

I drag myself up from a bed of stones
My legs stiff as Bamboo poles
l have many a hundred miles to walk
Will I make it to my home, my goal
Sab kuch hai Ram Bharose!

l am a 10th fail, only job i got was of a labourer
Half my wage I sent to my family
l slept in a Juggi, six persons to a room
There were times I had to sleep hungry
Sab kuch hai Ram Bharose!

I have no work, the factory is closed
Hunger will kill us before the virus can
I sold my phone for two thousand rupees
I save it for a bus ride, if I am lucky to find one
Sub kuch hai Ram Bharose!

On the way, some are runover by trucks
Some are crushed by trains
We were abandoned like orphans
It is not in our right to cry out in pain
Sab kuch hai Ram Bharose!

I bandage the foot blisters with rags
I curse myself, I curse my low birth
We do not matter, we do not matter
A helpless rage in me, we the scum of the earth
Sab kuch hai Ram Bharose!

The sun is up in the sky, I settle down to sleep
I drift into a dream, wind whistling past my ears
I am on a motorcycle with my wife and son
I am so happy, I never was in years
But dreams dont last, I wake up and trudge on
The never ending road ahead of me
Sab kuch hai Ram Bharose!
Sab kuch hai Ram Bharose!

An alumnus of St. Xavier’s School, Jaipur, Dr. Shorey believes that the Fathers of the school helped him to discover his love for poems and stories and hone his talent.

“I loved reading authors like Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn. I had a strange hunger to delve int the English vocabulary and a penchant for selecting long and difficult words like ‘dilatant’ from the English dictionary and incorporating them in my writings. Once there was this essay competition in the school. Father Mayer came to announce the results and he said that the winning essay was almost like a ‘mud cake with stars’. My classmates thought that he was talking about one of their essays and when he inquired about the writer, they tried claiming it as their own. It was then that he remarked that the person who has written the essay is completely oblivious of the fact that it was his essay that was being discussed. Suddenly, it dawned on me that it was my essay he was talking about and I stood up and he appreciated my work. In fact, Father Mayer and Father Strauss were some of the first people who appreciated my writings which gave me a lot of impetus. My friend and classmate Nihal too was instrumental in enhancing my English because he used to get me books written by Dostoevsky even when I was in medical college.’

Did his parents encourage his literary talent? ‘My father was an army officer. He never read my writings. In fact, my mother loved Hindi Literature, so I developed a liking for Hindi because of my mother.’

So, how did such a literary aficionado end up becoming a doctor? ‘I actually loved English Literature. I loved writing stories and reading books. But I am the only son to my parents and I have four sisters. So, it was expected that I would take up a job. So, I decided to pursue medicine.’

Dr. Shorey with his wife Sunita and son Aviral

Though his family is originally from Himachal Pradesh, Dr. Shorey resides in Jaipur and is a practicing ophthalmologist who specializes in retina. He completed his MBBS from SMS Medical College after which he became a resident at Lady Harding Medical College in New Delhi. It was there he met the love of his life, Sunita, who an anaesthetist from Pondicherry. The couple decided to get married and were soon blessed with a baby boy Aviral. However, their happiness did not last for long as Sunita was diagnosed with lung cancer which was in its last stage.

‘Lung cancer is a very tricky disease and often gets misdiagnosed. In fact, when we finally came to know it was lung cancer, within a week she got a stroke.’

Soon she passed away and life was never the same for Pavan and his son.

He says, ‘When this kind of a tragedy happens in your life, you have the time to reflect on what has happened and why it has happened. I experienced something called ‘vishadh’ at that time. It is similar to what has been described in Bhagvad Gita’s first chapter where Arjun first sets foot on the battlefield and feels depressed when he realizes that he has to fight his own kith and kin. I was merely 37 years old at the time. My parents moved in to take care of my son. Even though I threw myself into work, I couldn’t understand what has happened. The persistent questions were ‘why me? Or ‘What have I done to deserve this? When Nihal realized my state of mind, he called me to Jaipur for the weekend and that’s how I started coming back every weekend to meet him and my other friends.’

But the questions still remained and so did the quest for the answers. ‘I didn’t understand what had happened to me and was constantly questioning my life, my existence and the purpose of my living. When I was working in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in Delhi, I was in touch with another doctor was in touch who I knew had lost his wife. He advised me to meet his guru Mr. Ojaswi Sharma, a law professor who lived in Jaipur at that time.’

So, did he believe that a guru would help him to ease his plight? Was he actively searching for a guru? Dr. Shorey believes that you cannot find a guru by searching for him. He is simply revealed to you at the right time. But though he believed in God, he did not believe in this philosophy. Yet, on the behest of this doctor, he decided to meet this person and attend his sessions.’

Did the meetings help? ‘Although I found his sermons and sessions to be very different from the usual preachings of most gurus, I was still sceptical about accepting him as a guru. He being a realized soul noticed my reluctance and told me I was holding myself back. He told me to let go. Yet, I felt that I did not need a guru. But one day it so happened that my son Aviral, who was studying in Central School in Delhi at the time did not return in his bus at the usual time. I set out in my car and was madly searching for him. When I couldn’t find him and nothing was working, I prayed to Mr. Ojaswi Sharma. After a minute, I saw my son standing right in front of me. It could have been a coincidence but I took it as a sign that he was indeed the guru who would help me to find all the answers that I was looking for.’

To be continued….

Please join us on the 15th of January, 4 p.m. for an exclusive interaction with Dr. Pavan Shorey where he will be talking about his books, trekking, life and much more at Sudharma, Chameliwala Market, Opposite GPO, MI Road, Jaipur.

This article by Shailaza Singh appeared in Rashtradoot Newspaper’s Arbit Section on 14 January 2023

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