One of my friends who was also a medical colleague passed away yesterday. It happened fairly suddenly. He recently discovered he had a malignant brain tumour that rapidly progressed despite surgery and chemotherapy.
But I am not here to talk about his illness or his dying. I want to talk about his living, his life.
Many people get “very important person” (VIP) status, but few deserve it. Some get their VIP status by virtue of their birth in a family, others by election to a position in government, and still others by buying an award. But you don’t deserve VIP status unless you have earned it. Many politicians don’t deserve VIP status as they have not done much for the nation.
Dr Japaraj Robert Peter was a VIP, but he would be the first to say he was not. He was very important not because he came from a rich family or one with status but because he earned the standing. He was a man who dedicated his life to his family, to many who needed his expertise and to the health services. He was a keen believer in God and served from the motive that God loves him and so he should share his life with others.
He had the wholehearted support of an equally amazing wife, Jhenet, who is beautiful, strong, generous and compassionate, a wonderful woman fully devoted to her husband and three children. A woman who has stood fully beside him through all the tough times.
Many a family owe the birth of their child to Japaraj. Many a lady who had obstetric or gynaecological problems was rescued by him. He had a great reputation, not just as a senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, but also as an excellent feto-maternal specialist and trainer. He was sought after, not just from within the country, but also from abroad. He also helped set up services in neighbouring countries. There were few who could match his energy and contributions.
As our medical profession is diluted by volume and mediocrity, he stood out as a person who did excellent work. There are not many of his calibre. I could extol his many medical achievements but what marked him the most was the strength of his character. Always quick with a smile, kind and compassionate, and ever there for others in need. He was much loved by his department and colleagues from all over the country. We will miss him dearly. I miss you sorely my friend; with your passing I feel a great void, a great disturbance in the Force.
At this time, we wish the blessing of peace to the family.
Our hearts are broken at his untimely demise but we know this:
Japaraj has fought the good fight,
Japaraj has finished the race,
Japaraj has kept the faith.
(adapted from 2 Timothy 4:7 in the Bible)
Japaraj, you are worth more than many and are a true Malaysian we can be proud of.
You live on in our hearts and the eternal arms of God.
Till we meet again, my friend, in that eternal home.
Dr Amar-Singh is a senior consultant paediatrician.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.