The funny part was when my sister Kamala was in a bad mood or she had a row with Appa, she would say: “The hospital is named after God and Goddess- NOT Gemini Ganesan!” Appa probably knew that his dear daughter didn't really mean that- and so he would carry on as before, choosing to ignore the jibe. The fact is that GGHospital is as much a creation of Appa's generosity and encouragement as it is of his daughter kamala and son in law Selvaraj's vision, determination and hard work. If Appa sowed the seed and laid the foundation, it was they who steadfastly plodded on till their dream came true. Today, the fruit of this labor and Appa's blessings are there for all to see.
As a student, it was Appa's ambition to study medicine. Our parents revealed to us that the very reason he married our mother T R Alamelu (Bobji) was because her father declared that he would ensure that his future son-in-law would go through medical school. Alas, that was not to be, as family circumstances following his father-in-law's premature demise led Appa to seek out other career options.
However, today - at last count - he has no less than nine physicians and surgeons in his immediate family, every one of them having deliberately chosen their vocation: Three daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grand children! Now isn't that amazing? If one includes extended family, then the count runs to nearly 50… So even though Appa could not realize his initial dream of becoming a doctor, he left behind an entire family and two generations of doctors specialized in subjects as varied as radiation oncology, assisted reproduction, community health, dermatology, cardiology, critical care and general surgery. When we would ask him if he regretted not having done medicine, he would laugh and say that he was very fortunate that he was an actor for now he could be anything – doctor, engineer, postman, pilot, whatever - and so there was no chance of professional fatigue. Appa did not believe in coercion of any kind. Where career choice was concerned, however, he did have something to say by way of philosophical guidance: “Teaching and medicine are the two most gratifying professions in the world… and both teachers and doctors will be in demand always as long as there is life on earth”.
Appa's spirit lives on in every milestone achieved by the staff of GG Hospital. GG Hospital is the best living tribute to Appa. It symbolizes both his aspirations and philosophy : “Excel in what you do and put service before self… for success goes to those who dare and act; it seldom goes to the timid".
(A daughter who followed his other dream - of expressing thoughts and feelings through words.) For bio of Gemini Ganesan see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemini_Ganesan
Narayani Ganesh is a senior journalist with The Times of India group of publications. She is based in New Delhi .