Dr. Edward Nazareth – Mangalorean Star

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Dr Edward Nazareth – Mangalorean Star

A man of vision and simplicity, this wise, very down to earth man of Mangalore with his simplicity, caring and immense knowledge of Medicine has won over the mind and the heart of his fellow Mangaloreans. A rare jewel – Dr. Nazareth – was born on December 28, in a village called Attinja in Shirva Parish of Mangalore diocese. He is a proud son of – father, late Jacob Nazareth (died in 1981) and mother, Christine D’Souza. His parents were basically agriculturists. His father was a taxi driver in Mumbai, and later he settled in their native village for agricultural work. Talking about his parents, Dr. Nazareth proudly says: “My parents had no formal schooling; even then my father was able to read and write Kannada, Konkani and had working knowledge of English. He had learnt it by his personal efforts.” Though his parents had no education, they had great enthusiasm to educate their children. Without their support, Dr. Nazareth says, he would not have reached to today’s position.

How would you describe your childhood days in Attinja?
The village where I was born and spent my entire childhood was a remote village without modern facilities. Now of course, there are some improvements like mud-road and ever disappearing electricity. This village and people of the village have put a lot of influence on me. I have personal experience of the pains and pleasures, beliefs and myths, culture and traditions of the village and agriculture life. Many of these now appear in my stories and writings.

Can you tell us about your schooling?
I did my entire schooling at church schools in Shirva, from first standard to 2nd PUC. The primary schooling was at Don Bosco Hr. Primary School and higher secondary was at St. Mary’s Junior College, Shirva. For school I had to walk nearly one hour. During the rainy season the distance was more because usual route used to get blocked by floodwater. Then there was no bus facility to the village, which made harder to get to school.

Right from 1st standard, he was getting first rank in the class. There were no tuition facilities, and his parents were not able to coach him either. His elder brothers had already left home for their future. In addition, to schooling, they had usual domestic work daily and during cultivation and harvesting they had to help their parents in agriculture work. Mean time, he says, there was no force from his parents to study and get a rank!

Right from his primary school he was good in catechism and extra-curricular activities like elocution, essay writing etc. Every year he used to get numerous prizes in these competitions. However he had little or no interest in sports!

It was really interesting to know how Dr. Nazareth wanted to be a Priest or Missionary before he joined medical school. Here is how he describes his interest in becoming a priest and joining medical school:

It was routine then in our parish that any good boy would become a priest. My elder brother and my paternal uncles were already priests, my cousin sisters were nuns, and it was not unusual for me to follow them. (You find number of religious vocations from Shirva and adjoining parishes of those years!) I too wanted to become a priest.

I did not know that I could join government medical college and become a doctor. I was under the impression that only rich people could become doctors. Though I had secured 96% in I PUC and 98% in II PUC in PCB (qualifying marks for MBBS), I was unaware that I could get a free seat in Government Medical College. It was my elder brother, Fr. Valerian and late Rev. Fr. Aloysius Rosario, and then the parish priest of Shirva, who knew me very well, advised me to take up medicine instead of priesthood. In fact, Fr. Valerian got the application forms for MBBS in government colleges. {As a gratitude to Rev. Fr. Aloysius Rosario, I attended him during his last days at Home for the Aged at Bajjodi, Mangalore. I gave him the last medical attention and was at his bedside when he breathed last. He is one of the rare holy priests I have seen}.

During his time, there was no entrance test and the selection was based on PUC marks. Till he got the interview card for MBBS selection, where his state selection rank was 30, he had no hopes of getting a medical seat! Heart to heart he was still planning to go to North India to join a religious congregation. Without any hassles he was selected for MBBS and he joined MBBS course at Mysore Medical College in 1977 and he completed MBBS with internship in 1983.

Dr. Nazareth wanted to be specialized in Orthopaedic Surgery and as he says, “God was kind to this village lad again, and He has been kind throughout! Again, I got a free seat to study Masters in Orthopaedics in Government College. This selection was again based on the marks of my final MBBS examinations. There were very few seats for MS in Orthopaedics in government colleges and I was fortunate enough to get selected. I passed my MS in 1987 with first place to Mysore University, Mysore.”

After completion of his studies and with M.S. degree in Orthopaedics, he wanted to get experience in the field. He worked for a few years in Cochin, Kasaragod and finally at Moodbidri. Dr. Nazareth joined Fr. Muller’s Medical College and Hospital in 1992 as a faculty member in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and now he has been working as a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery.

What motivated you to learn medicine?
I am happy with my profession and I have no regrets for joining the field of Medicine. I remember when I was in PUC and contemplating to join the Society of Jesus, one of the senior Jesuits from the Northern Province, (I regret, I do not remember his name) who interviewed me asked why I wanted to become a priest. That was a difficult question to answer and I told him that I wanted to serve the people. He then asked me why not as a doctor? I could not answer then, but now I can tell him, his suggestion was right. I feel, as a doctor I have been getting plenty of opportunities to serve the people.

Dr. Nazareth is very happy with his profession. Trauma surgery is his interest and he keeps himself busy in his work. He has operated on many senior citizens with hip fractures. Last week itself he operated on retired tahashildar, a Catholic from Mangalore who is now 90 years of age. Dr. Nazareth says that this man had fracture of hipbone following a minor trauma. He has recovered and is walking with a support.

Can you tell us few interesting cases you handled in your profession?
I can give several examples of interesting patients, but I remember one lady who was assaulted by one of her relatives with an intention to kill her. Fortunately for the lady, though the assailants had broken the bones of both the legs, fore arms and arms, she had not died on the spot and was brought to the hospital with severe bleeding and shock. This happened when I was in Moodbidri at Alvas’ Health Center. There was no one to help this lady. She had a grandson, who was minor. Except to him, nobody was ready to care for her. But Dr. Mohan Alva took the initiative and took the responsibility of her. He arranged several units of blood. I operated on her, she was given required care. She was in the hospital for more than three months. She walked out of the hospital with fractures almost united. She arranged to pay only one thousand rupees and more than twenty thousands were left as due.

Recently this lady came to Fr. Muller Hospital in search of me. She had minor Orthopaedic problem, but was insisting that she should be brought to me. Her grand son, now grown up was with her. She almost fell to my feet to thank me for all that was done to her! (I regret I can not give full identity of these patients).

While asking about his hobbies, Dr. Nazareth says: “‘Health Articles’ is my hobby”
He had the interest in literature even when he was small. He used to spend his entire holiday in reading novels. By the time he reached high school, he had read several Konkani and Kannada novels, and short story collections. This naturally inspired him to write. His first works were translations from Kannada to Konkani which were published in ‘POINNARI’ a weekly from Mumbai. When his name first appeared in the paper he was only in IX standard!

By the time he reached PUC, several short stories for children penned by him were published in Raknno. After joining MBBS, he continued this hobby and in the early years of his clinical training, he started writing on health issues. Rev. Fr. Mark Walder, then the editor of Raknno encouraged him so much that articles on health became a regular feature in Raknno.

Dr. Nazareth has been writing on issues related to health for nearly 25 years now. He has written in almost all the periodicals of Konkani. Though there were few doctors who had written in Konkani in the early seventies, at present he is the only doctor who writes articles on health in Konkani regularly.

Dr. Nazareth’s Question-Answers on Health and personal problems: He started his question-answers column in Konkani periodicals is now a popular column. He has been answering the questions from the readers in ‘Raknno’ regularly. This column now in Raknno is very popular as ‘Mogachyã dakteraba’ (Dear doctor brother). Other than this column, he has written hundreds of articles on various issues related to health including sex education. One collection of health articles ‘Bãri Bhãlaki’ published by Raknno in 1985 contains majority of the articles written by him as a medical student.

Dr. Nazareth has written two books on sex education. The first book ‘Sex education for youth’ (Yuvazãnãk Laimgik Shixãn) published in the year 1993 and second ‘Married Sex Life’ (Kazãri laimgik jivith) published in the year 1995, by his own publication-Nazareth Publications. These books are well accepted by Konkani people and have helped many to know their own self and to solve the problems, if any. In 1998, he wrote and published a book on ‘Child Care’ (Bhurgyamchi Zãthãn) in Konkani. This book is widely sought by parents these days.

Dr. Nazareth’s Creative Writings:

Other than health articles, he has written several short stories which are published in Konkani periodicals. His short stories are based on human issues and are well accepted by the readers. He has been considered as one of the popular short story writer in Konkani. His four collections of short stories are published in Konkani are: 1. Bhumi vainkutamth, 2. Advarlelem Phal, 3. Saimbachem Pathak, and 4. Chamãdoracho Puth’ There is not a single doctor of medicine who has done any work in Konkani literature so far like Dr. Nazareth. He has also written two novels. They are: Kantyanim Bhandllem Vodth and Nirmonem. Both are published.

Editor of Orthopaedic Journal:

Dr. Nazareth was selected as the editor of Karnataka Orthopaedic Association Journal in the year 2002 and the journal was released in February 2002. He has been an editor for the Journal of Orthopaedic Association of South Indian States for three years from 2004 to 2006. The first issue of the journal containing several articles from Orthopaedic Surgeons of south Indian states is already published.

‘Ask-Doctor’ – a column in daijiworld website – This column was started about two years ago is very popular. He gets the questions from the visitors of the website from different parts of the world. The questions include various aspects– personal health, sexual health and family health. The column is updated once in a fortnight. At present 55th edition of the column is on the website.

Though you are an Orthopaedic Surgeon how is that you are able to write on issues like sex and child care?

During my younger days and later when in the medical school I realized that there was lot of ignorance in the real issues and natural phenomenon of sexuality. I found there was hardly any teaching about this even in the medical curriculum. This inspired me to study about this field even when I was in medical college. I went through many of the scientific studies published and bought books written by specialists in the field. This was the self study.

Initially I started answering questions on these issues in a youth magazine and I was requested to write a comprehensive book on these matters. That is how I wrote my first book –sex education for youth. The support and the encouragement inspired me to write the second book for married.

As my children were growing up I felt the need of a book on child care. The knowledge of medicine and personal experience in child care helped me to write the book on child care. I have studied in depth before writing these books.

Other activities:

He is the founder secretary of Konkani Writers’ Forum, Karnataka (Regd.), a popular organization in Mangalore; Member of Family Council of Mangalore Diocese. He has been a resource person in several seminars for youth, married couples and senior citizens organized in the diocese. He also is one of the resource people at the pre-cana seminars organized by family service center of the diocese. He has served as President of ‘Konkani Bhasha Mandal, Karnataka (Regd.)

Awards:

Dr. Nazareth has received prestigious Konkani Sahitya Academy Award for his book of short story collection – ‘bhumi vaikumtant’ He has also received Dr. T. M. A. Pai Foundation appreciation award twice for his books – ‘bhumi vaikumtant’ and ‘Nirmone’

Talking about his family he says: “I am a family man and we have a very happy family.” He is married to Nelly, who is a consultant ophthalmologist (eye surgeon). Together they have three children – Nithin who is in I PUC, and twins-Naveen and Neetha who are in VIII standard. They are good in studies as well as in other extra-curricular activities.

He is thankful to his wife, Nelly who always supports him in all his activities. His children are very proud of their parents. They live a simple life and speak only Konkani at home.

Dr. Nazareth has four brothers, three are older and one is younger; and one younger sister. All of his brothers and sister are well educated. One of his older brother is Fr. Valerian Nazareth who is a diocesan priest of Kolkatta.

Dr. Nazareth’s message to Mangalorean.com readers:

Wherever you are, you be a Mangalorean. If your mother tongue is Konkani, teach your children Konkani. Talk to them in Konkani. Let Konkani be your identity.

Mangalorean.com wishes Dr. Edward Nazareth all the very best in his future endeavors!

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Comments:

S. M. Fernandes, India:
Well presented. There is some similarity in our lives. Born of uneducated parents, humble beginning, interest in priesthood, education in govt colleges with scholarship, etc. Only I became an engineer from Surathkal engineering college and older having just entered 70s. Wish Dr. Nazareth all the best in future life.

Would like to talk to Dr. Nazareth. Request him to contact me on phone 09901144277 or on email santhanmf@gmail.com

J P Mendonca, India:
I am really proud that Dr Nazareth was my classmate upto puc in shirva.
I wish him all the best


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