It is a difficult task that has been entrusted on me at this time of bewilderment — I am happy for him because the curtain has filly come down on a painful existence of more than two years. I am at the same time deeply grieved that I have lost a dear friend —someone I could bank on and it was mutual. It has been an association that has lasted over 50 odd years. I had hardly visited him in the last two years—it was a very disturbing and painful experience for me to watch my dear old friend in that pathetic condition of total dependence.
It is not that Ranen and I had ever studied together. He was at mti and I was at Jorhat with my materl grandparents. We met for the first time sometime in late 1965 when he was studying in the Cotton College in Guwahati. I had come to Guwahati to spend my holidays with my parents and had gone out with some friends to the favourite ‘haunt’ of the student community — Panbazar - and that is where we had met. After that he went his way to study medicine and I went off to study Engineering. We did keep on bumping into each other whenever I was home from College. We never sought each other out but there was that ‘something’ both of us shared—I was a fairly docile / quiet person and Ranen was not a boisterous person either. There was a mutual respect we both shared and nurtured. It was much later that our friendship took root — when we both had settled down.
I would rather not talk about his academic brilliance and professiol success as there will be plenty of others to talk about that. But suffice it to say that Dr. Ranendra Kumar Mahanta was the first Urologist from the North-east region and his expertise in the field was acknowledged all over the country. He was the person who set up the Urology Department in the Gauhati Medical College and continually updated it with the latest technologies and developments as long as he was there. He quit his lucrative job in the Gauhati Medical College as Professor and Head of the Department of the Urology Department at the peak of his career and set up & reared the first Lithotripsy unit at the Central Nursing Hospital at Beltola, Guwahati.
He was an approachable doctor/person but at the same time had no time to waste his time on frivolities or sweet talks - he always preferred to call a spade a spade rather than beating around the bush. He believed in team-work and always believed in treating his patients in consultation with other specialist doctors, as and when necessary. The Gauhati Medical College had set up an interaction cell of the various departments and Ranen was very closely involved with that cell. Ranen had always been credited with being a very dedicated teacher who was closely involved with the faculty. He had attended a number of major conferences all over the country.
In spite of all the success and recognition he received, in his heart he remained the simple lad from mti fond of the good old simple home cooked food and the simple pleasures of small town life. He had reared geese and ducks in his house as well as bees — he had dogs in the house. I recall the occasiol eggs he would send across to me because I am very fond of eggs and he too had loved them. He was fond of his flower patch and his kitchen garden and spoke very proudly of his home produce.
He was a committed social worker who always tried to render service to the under-privileged and the senior citizens. He had been closely involved with the Bharat Vikash Parishad and had started the Blyoli Chow at his house for the senior citizens in his locality. He had this habit of going out of his way to promote talent, particularly in the are of performing arts. In spite of his very hectic schedules during his hey-day, he would find time to attend social occasions and visit family and friends. I shall always remember that visit he had paid me at the GNRC after my Angioplasty - he sat by my bed in the ICU for more than an hour cheering me up-and in the process even the other patients in the unit, with his wit and charm. It was always a pleasure chatting with Ranen as he was a store-house of information practically in all subjects.
It was the joint effort of Ranen and his wife Ajaya for what their sons Rizi and Ravi are today.
It is most unfortute that Ranen had to bid adieu to Ajaya, Rizi, Ravi and his entire family and circle of friends before he had the chance to sit back and enjoy his well-earned rest. But then that is the way of life and no one can do anything other than stoically bearing the grief of parting.
Stay well and happy wherever you are dear friend.