|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 5 | Page : 1273--1275
RN ROY – A Life of Lessons: A Personal Tribute
Department of Neurosurgery, Park Clinic, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Dr. Sandip Chatterjee
Department of Neurosurgery, Park Clinic, Kolkata, West Bengal
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Chatterjee S. RN ROY – A Life of Lessons: A Personal Tribute.Neurol India 2020;68:1273-1275
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Chatterjee S. RN ROY – A Life of Lessons: A Personal Tribute. Neurol India [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 18 ];68:1273-1275
Available from: https://www.neurologyindia.com/text.asp?2020/68/5/1273/299144
Ronendranath Roy was born in Raghunath Ganj in present day Murshidabad in August of 1928, but moved to Pabna in present day Bangladesh at the age of four. His deep attachment to his roots there was to prompt him to undertake his last foreign trip to Bangladesh well into his late eighties just because he wanted as he said “to refresh some memories”. In fact, being tacitly economical with his words was one of his hallmarks, and often his statements were brief to the point of his being misunderstood. He would be the first to arrive for the clinical meetings at Park Clinic, and if the presenter or the Consultant concerned were late, he would often remark. “OH I thought Consultants would at least remember!”, and very few were late for these events when Prof Roy was present!
Ronen Roy moved to Kolkata to do his ISC at the Presidency College and then moved to the adjacent college to do his MBBS, graduating in 1951 from Medical College, Bengal. His boss in surgery was the very famous Prof Panchanan Chatterjee, who groomed many a famous surgeon of this city. In 1955 he moved to CMC Vellore, whereas he wrote, “I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to be the first Indian trainee to be trained at the very first Neurosciences centre set up in this country in 1949 by Dr. Jacob Chandy”, and he never ceased to narrate his experiences at that centre during his conversations in the surgeon's room. Recollecting his experiences in Vellore he said, “necessity made us good clinicians, and fear of surgical complications made us good technicians”.
In 1962 he joined the Department of Neurology at the PG Hospital. A few months later, he was offered an Austrian Government Scholarship for further study and training in related aspects of neurological sciences. He spent a year in Vienna (1962–1963, under Dr. Herbert Kraus) and another year at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary with a British Council Fellowship (1963–1964, under Prof. Gillingham, on the recommendation by the eminent American neurosurgeon Prof. Paul Bucy). These were brief periods in his life when he remained outside the country, but periods which were to have a great impact on his life on return home. He returned to Calcutta in 1964 and was promoted in 1965 to the post of Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery at the PG Hospital. He subsequently became the Professor of Neurosurgery in 1972, and the Head of the Department in 1974. Subsequently, he became the Director of IPGMER (Institute of Postgraduate Education and Research) and BIN (Bangur Institute of Neurology) in 1984 until his superannuation in 1986. He continued to serve IPGMER and BIN as the Honorary Professor and Consultant till 1990. Almost an entire generation of neurosurgeons in this city was nurtured and trained by this amazing man during his tenure at the BIN. He was also instrumental in starting a post-doctoral course in neurosurgery during that time. After his period at BIN he became involved full time with Park Clinic, and as a member of the Governing Body of this hospital was involved in helping set up a full-fledged department of neurosciences here. “High time you started DNB Neurosurgery here,” he told me one afternoon in his inimitable matter-of-fact way, but one which meant we all had to seriously strive to do this, and indeed we did within a year!
Prof Roy's life was however one of many challenges. From a small-town boy getting to Kolkata and indeed to the two premier educational institutions in the city, to his struggle against a lot of political odds to try and establish a stand-alone neurosciences centre in the city, he often lamented that he could have spent more fruitful time in clinical work, had he not had to spend so much time with powers that be to convince them about the change which was needed! The anecdotes he loved to narrate included one where he was forced to travel in the luggage hold of an air force plane to the Andamans because an important person there had had a brain haemorrhage! Yet beyond his persona, and well beyond his clinical and administrative achievements, what stood out was the humility and simplicity of the man! At a time when all his students would drive in to work in their plush cars, he spent his entire working life whether as Professor and Head of Neurosurgery or as Director of IPGMER, travelling to work in public transport. “I bought my first car here in Park Clinic, well after retirement !” he would often confess with a smile! And so it was, from his modest apartment where he brought up his children, to his refusal to see any private patient during his working life at BIN, from his running after the bus in front of the hospital to his swift ward rounds which left many of his students breathless, there is no doubt that he belonged to an era we do not see any more. Prof RN Roy's simplicity and humility left as great an impact on the discerning as his neurosurgery and his teaching!
I have been privileged to be privy to many of his personal observations, and indeed the last time he insisted he be brought to the hospital in a wheelchair was to see me as he had had a fall at home, but wanted me to examine him and study his Xrays and pronounce that he did not have a fracture! To be worthy of his trust was itself an honour, for be in his thoughts actions or behaviour, his principles or his teachings, Prof Ronendra Nath Roy did not belong to a crowd !l “He did not consider Park Clinic as his place of work; he considered it as his home”, observed his son Prof Kaushik Roy, himself a neurosurgeon, a home to which he was rushed with a stroke in his final days, and a home where he left a large lacuna when he felt his job on this earth had been completed!