Dr Rajendran Nair a poor man’s medical college

Dr Rajendran Nair or Nair doctor, was, as one of his patients put it, a poor man’s medical college. For the last 45 years, people mostly poor expats flocked to his small clinic off Ruwi High Street regardless of ailments.

The rate was same for the last 25 years; RO 1 for consultation and RO 3 if there were any medical procedures. It was for a reason because Dr Nair saw his medical practice as a service not a profession.

As COVID-19 reached Oman, Sashi Andy, who was with the doctor for the last 25 years, brought up the subject of closing the clinic during the period to which Dr replied, “Then who would look after my poor patients?”

Many of his patients had moved on to other parts of Muscat but doctor always wanted to be in Ruwi because he was concerned about his patients from labour force.

“But once his children called up from India, who are doctors themselves, he agreed that age is a factor and closed the clinic.  He has always been on top of precautions but somewhere along COVID-19 took over just around that time,” said Sashi.

Prayers pour in

When the news spread that Dr Nair had contracted the deadly virus, all prayed for his speedy recovery. The priest at a church was surprised when he received requests from hundreds of people from different communities to pray for Dr Nair’s cure.  His patients silently went on to seek for help through their prayers no matter where they came from or which religion they belonged to. But the good doctor succumbed to the coronavirus last week.

Hailing from Chenganassery, Kottayam in the Indian state of Kerala, Dr Rajendran Nair, MBBS, MS, began his medical career in Muscat in the summer of 1975. His first clinic was in Muttrah across the Mina Sultan Qaboos Port and thus began his career with one of the earliest clinics in the private health sector.

His young wife joined him in Oman after six months.  “His family is his patients and staff.  Only then us,” Valsala Nair, wife of Dr Nair, reflected in this difficult time.  But the family is proud like all of his patients that Dr Nair continued his service until coronavirus claimed him.

Dr Nair bid final goodbye to the land he held close to his heart, whose citizens and residents he healed with his kind heartedness and professionalism.  He was soft natured but strict when patients did not follow instructions.

Within one year being in Muttrah, Dr Nair had moved his practice to the happening place then – Ruwi High Street.  And then on there was no looking back for him his life revolved around his patients.

Healing Touch

Muscat of the 70s may not have had many diagnostic centers and labs but Dr Nair did not need them either as he was already gaining popularity for his sharpness in diagnosis.

“I am already missing him.  He was indeed a very nice and caring person.  The ease with which he diagnosed almost any disease or ailment was amazing.  My family and I always went to his clinic for the past 35 plus years,” said KM Nadeem who arrived in Oman in April of 1976.

 “Dr Nair is a pioneer in the private sector health care. He has left a legacy,” said V T Saileswaran, Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Muscat. “I am very saddened because doctor is known to me for the last 30 years and he is a kind and warm hearted person.  He will always be in our memories and my prayers and thoughts are with his family.  I offer them my deepest condolence.”

Why Retire?

For Abrahim Mathew, Malayalam Wing Convener of Indian Social Wing, Dr Nair was his family doctor and closest friend since 1985.  “What has always amazed me is Dr Nair’s diagnosis.  Once after an ailment was cured, he looked at me and said, ‘What is important is that you have recovered.  In medicine recovery is important.’ The loss of Dr Nair is irrepressible.  When we spoke about retirement he said, “Why retire? When we find joy in our work we must continue as long as one can.”

And he did.  He worked and considered being there for his patients a top priority until he could physically do so.  For sure he must have had thoughts of his patients until it was time to go but Dr Nair never ceased his practice even at 76.  He left as a hero. Dr Nair’s final rites were performed in Suhar on Monday.