11 Jul 2024  |   04:52am IST

Living forever in the hearts of his patients

Living forever in the hearts of his patients

Dr Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues

Dr Pedro Antonio Fernandes Bravo da Costa left this world for his heavenly abode last month, after being unwell for some time. Eldest of the siblings, he completed 80 years on December 4, 2023. Though he was unwell, his passing away took everyone by surprise.

He was a medical doctor having studied from the erstwhile Escola Médica Cirurgica de Goa. After graduating in 1966, he joined as a Junior Medical Officer in the Medical College, where he worked before joining the cadre of Rural Medical Officers of the Directorate of Health Services. 

In those days, the interviews for RMO were carried out by Union Public Service Commission and were held in Delhi. It was a general cadre and doctors from all over India could apply. He stood first at the interview and his first posting was in the village of Marcaim. In the sixties, the transport was inadequate, and the link to this village was a carreira, not a bus, which would leave at 6.30 in the morning from the Panjim bus stand, near the Head Post Office. 

The RMO had to live in the village, but my brother didn't do so, as there were no proper living conditions. Only a few houses had toilets and to ease one had to go to the hillock or riverside. There were no restaurants in the village where he could have the meals. Only two Catholic families lived in the village, near the ferry wharf. The ferry took passengers to Cortalim by crossing the Zuari River. The family ran a bar in the house and agreed to serve rice and curry with fish for his everyday meal. There was no fried fish, but lots in the curry which was not a pleasant proposition for him, because we always had fried fish and rarely consumed fish from the curry. It was added to give taste to the curry.  

In 1968, when a Cottage Hospital was to start at Chicalim under the DHS, Dr Pedro took the opportunity to move to Vasco da Gama as a Medical Officer at the Hospital and was given residential quarters on the campus. This was the beginning of his association with Vasco da Gama, where he settled with his family.

He joined the hospital at the beginning of the 70s and worked there till 1978, when he resigned from the government services. While serving in the hospital, he started his private practice in the city. In those days, doctors were allowed to practice beyond their duty time. RMOs were transferred from one post to another and he decided that these transfers would not help his family which would have to move along with him, he resigned. A long period in the clinical and medical field for more than fifty years.

Dr Pedro was a trained musician. He had a tutor who came to teach him to read the notes and play the violin. The music teacher, Acurcio Fernandes was also a mestre in the Panjim Church and was from Curtorim. Dr Pedro also learned to play the mandolin. As a student of the Escola Médica, he was part of the school's musical ensemble, Tuna da Escola Médica and was the lead mandolin of the Tuna. When he started playing the mandolin, he stopped with the violin which upset his father. Along with his cousin Cesar Bragança, friends Raul Peres, and Eduardo Fonseca, all medical students formed a beat group, called Green Stones and performed regularly at the All India Radio, Panjim. He also played the mandolin for the Tuna Sparks and performed with the award-winning group Mande Ixxt, for the Mando festivals.  

He would often recount his experiences as a primary, secondary or medical college student. How in his days, there was caste and class favouritism and some professors were biased while giving marks to the students. He recounted his experience with a senior professor at the Escola Médica, who as one of the examiners asked how leper was transmitted. His answer was correct then and even today, it has not changed. But the examiner gave him fourteen out of twenty marks to prejudice him, without asking any more questions and left the examination hall. Marks were aggregated from the first to the fifth year and internship. The average was taken as final. A student aiming for 16 or more had to consistently do well in all the years. While examining his protegee, who did not know the answers to the questions, the same professor asked those present in the classroom to leave because the student 

was nervous in the presence of the public! This way he could mark at his pleasure even if the student did not answer!

Dr Pedro was a keen football enthusiast, having played for Associação Academica de Goa during his younger days, and rarely missed watching the matches. Later, he eagerly watched on the television, sometimes taking time off from his busy practice. A keen supporter and fan of Benfica and Chelsea, he would not miss their matches, even sitting till late at night. When Benfica visited and played in Goa (1960), he had to appear for orals. He just waited to finish them to rush from the school, Lyceum to the Police Head Quarters football ground. He was for some time the president of Vasco Sports Club.

After obtaining his Medico Cirurgião degree, the students had to get equivalence to MBBS, which he did in 1968. Not to lag behind, he appeared for an exam at the University of Lisbon, to get an equivalence for the Medico Cirurgião to a Licentiate in Medicine in the year 2001 and registered in the Medical Council in Lisbon. He kept himself abreast of medical science development by reading various journals and even using the internet and discussing it with his colleagues. 

He was attached to VM Salgaonkar’s Research Center, Pai Nursing Home and Talaulikar’s Hospital. His long service in the medical profession was recognized by the Indian Medical Association, Mormugao branch, the Rotary Club, Panjim as a medical practitioner in service for 50 years and Senior Citizens’ Forum, St Andrew’s Parish with the title of Distinguished Medical Professional. But the best recognition was from hundreds of his patients, friends and admirers who attended the funeral to bid goodbye to their dear doctor.

(Dr Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues is the younger sister of Dr Pedro Antonio Fernandes Bravo da Costa. Between the two of them, there was a difference of nine years, but having the same wavelength, they could sit together and talk on different subjects from politics, history, medicine and of course how life was in Goa)


Idhar Udhar