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The Last Goodbye: Remembering the joyous Dr Mukti Bhatnagar

Dr Mukti Bhatnagar

Her son describes her as his role model, a perfectionist in spirituality, horticulture, arts, medical, administrative, music and the list that goes on. And above and beyond, Dr Mukti Bhatnagar was an incredible human and a fighter in spirit. For those of you who don’t know her persona, she was the Founding President of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University, established under the aegis of Mahayana Theravada Vajrayana Buddhist Religious and Charitable Trust, Meerut. The university has acquired a commendable record of service in the field of Education, Health care and Social Welfare.

Above all the roles she played effortlessly, she was a fighter. Firstly, she vanquished breast cancer, later she developed and overcame metastasis in the liver and magically responded to the treatment before she was infected with the deadly coronavirus. Laughing it off after testing negative “ab toh corona bhi ho gaya,” she came back to her vibrant self.  But after fighting and defeating one ailment and another, one after the other, the weakness prevailed. And a persona like Dr Mukti Bhatnagar herself is no different. The champion of life is a human after all and her body began to retire. 

We are often taught the concept of life and death, somewhere at the back of the mind we try to come to terms with the ultimate reality of life — death. A reality when encountered hits you so hard that it leaves you numb. Losing your loved one can transform you in considerable ways, especially — your Ma  —and the state of being of Dr Krishna ( son of Dr Mukti Bhatnagar) and his sisters are no different. A mother who has been your guidance, confidant, and mentor. It is an absence of your role model and the person you looked up to in trouble and in happiness. Dr Krishna’s loss is immeasurable. 

“ Without a doubt, she loved me the most out of all her students, friends and relatives. The same was true for me. Although it is obvious for the relationship of any mother and son but ours was slightly more than that, we used to understand each other at a different level, and we used to joke — some of them were only understood by us — professional discussion and mutual guidance. She waited for me to return from the office and I returned from my office for her rather than anyone else.” Dr Krisna’s letter reads. 

This letter is special, a doctor who dedicated all her life to her students and saving lives, died, and a doctor lost his mother. An emotion they must have felt, beheld so many times — but a emotion still too tough to deal with when it pierces your heart. No losses are comparable, every loss is equally intense. Each life that is lost in such clasping times. People who lost their parents, parents who lost their child. It is unfortunate. We can mourn, give shoulder but can never fully understand the loss and the agonizing pain. A lesson that Dr Mukti taught her son during his college days. 

“During my MBBS she was my teacher in medicine but to all of us, she taught how to be a human before a doctor. How your decision and actions should include the emotions of the patients and their family. How to be observant beyond what the book and the investigation show.” 

And he is an observant doctor and a good son, a son Dr Mukti will always be proud of. And Dr Mukti with a spirit of a warrior battled breast and liver cancer, fought covid, survived cardiac arrest “possibly the love of her children?” 

“I continued the CPR knowing fully well that we had lost her. I asked my father to move out along with my sisters. While doing her CPR I reminded her that today was not the correct day as it was her elder daughter, my elder sister’s birthday. Surprisingly, she came back with a cardiac rhythm. Strange it was. Possibly the love of her children?”

Knowing what goes around in the medical literature and surviving the crucial moment could possibly be the most difficult thing to deal with when it comes to treating your own parents. 

“ I am still of the opinion that treating one’s own parents is a very difficult thing and should not be taken by doctors. It needs the highest level of mental and academic composure.”

“During her treatment she was very weak, eating very little. Some brief spurts of energy were there when used to be back to her normal self. With the progress of the disease, the duration of her normal self reduced significantly. I could see from her reports how her organ systems were collapsing slowly under dreaded complications.” 

“Do you think I will be cured?” Dr Mukti, a mother, asked Dr Krishna, her son.

How does a doctor who is also a son suppose to answer this to his patient, his beloved mother ? All he wished is to get back to normal times of laughing with each other. But all that the doctor’s son could manage to do is hold her mother’s hand and smile. 

“You are my son and you will never stop trying to save me but I don’t want to be remembered as a liability and in this state. I want all of you to remember me as me. Let me go as Dr Mukti.”

There is no escape to the reality they say and the looming helplessness. “She went back to the room and became a patient” 

The endless trying to fight the inevitable eventuality. Dr. Prof. Mukti Bhatnagar has chosen Parinirwan for herself on the 7th June 2021 and left the world as Dr Mukti, with the pride, effortlessness with which she lived her life.  

“She was a friend, a confidant, a guide, my routine. I knew she was departing but it was still a shock. I am expected to take her place, be in her shoes, become like her but who can? overall she taught me to be me, to have my own thoughts, own personality as well as to stand up for the right. To learn from her and be me and deal in my own way,” Dr. Shalya Rohit, CEO, Swami Vivekanand Subharti University- Daughter of Dr Mukti Bhatnagar.

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