After spending more than five years treating Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray every day, his primary physician Dr Jalil Parkar speaks to Hindustan Times about the experience.
Dr Parkar, a chest physician at Lilavati hospital in Bandra, studied at JJ Hospital, Byculla, before going to the US for a fellowship in pulmonary medicine. He returned to Mumbai in 2000. Before giving the interview, he made it clear that he will not divulge medical details about Thackeray.
When did you first meet Bal Thackeray?
In February 2007, when he was brought to the intensive care unit of Lilavati hospital. I have been treating him since, along with a bunch of nurses dedicated to his care. Balasaheb has loved, respected and reposed full trust in us, including Uddhavji. They made us feel comfortable and treated us like family. I will miss visiting him every day. I don’t know what to do between 11am to 12.30pm when I used to visit him.
During your visits, what did you speak about?
We spoke about a lot of issues, especially sports, nature and Bollywood. He was extremely sharp and very astute. He was always apprised of everything happening in the world as he was a voracious reader. He was concerned about how he could improve the state of affairs not only in Maharashtra but the entire country.
What did you enjoy most about him and his company?
I really enjoyed his jokes. He was very witty and very prompt in his wit.
What do you miss most about him?
I will miss his fatherly attitude. He would care about us and enquire about our health if we were sick, for instance. He would also reprimand us if something went wrong. He would teach all of us the essentiality of being particular about certain things, such as time, cleanliness, dietary habits, and love for nature. He was a strict disciplinarian.
When would you remember him the most?
When certain kinds of instances occur, I will remember him and think about what he would say when he was alive. My only regret is that he should have lived for some more years. He was a man of compassion, conviction, dedication and passion.
Is there anything else you want to say?
I would like to thank Uddhavji for entrusting faith in us. The family never made us feel like outsiders. I also have utmost regard for the masses who were with him throughout and his personal assistant Ravi Mhatre, and Champa Singh Thapa, his caretaker.