Dr Lokendra Singh is the Director and Chief Consultant Neurosurgeon at Central India Institute of Medical Sciences (CIIMS), Nagpur. He completed his MBBS from SMS Medical College, Jaipur, studied neurosurgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and also has a degree in hospital management from IIM Ahmedabad. Dr Singh is undoubtedly one the most popular and respected neurosurgeons in Nagpur but there’s a different side to him that’s really fascinating. Over the years, Dr Singh has also carved a niche for himself as a writer, author and a poet. In an interview with Nation Next, Dr Lokendra Singh speaks about his love for writing, his idea of romance and reveals what inspired him to write.
Neurosurgery and writing poetry and fiction are fields that are perceived to be poles apart. Being a neurosurgeon, how did writing happen to you?
I think neurosurgery and writing are not poles apart. Doctors basically deal with human emotions, body and soul. They can write more heart touching stories because they see life and death very closely as compared to anyone. They see people breaking down and then rising up from the dark times of their lives and then being happy once their loved ones are alright and out of the hospital bed. There are very few professions like mine where a person can experience extreme human emotions. I discovered the writer in me because of one of my colleagues. When he wrote a book; I thought, ‘if he can write it, why can’t I?’
What can’t you survive without between the two – neurosurgery and writing?
Your brain will work only when your stomach is full! My livelihood is more important as my family is dependent on me. Writing is my hobby, a very serious hobby. I have an infatuation towards literature.
Between poetry and fiction, what do you enjoy more?
I enjoy both equally. If I experience a writer’s block, I immediately shift my focus and start writing a prose. I make it a point to write for two hours every day.
Your first book ‘Coffin her back’ was a medical crime story that dealt with the dirty aspects of medical field. Is the situation really that scary as you have portrayed in your book?
Yes, the book deals with ugly aspects of medical field but of course there are some good aspects as well. The book is about a real story which I have fictionalized further. Almost sixty percent of the book is fiction.
You are working on yet another crime story with Cardioplegia (intentional and temporary cessation of cardiac activity, primarily for cardiac surgery) being the central theme. Where does a poet-doctor like you get these hard core crime story ideas from?
I am writing the book with a feeling of revenge. The book has a character of an agent which featured in my first book as well. That agent played a nasty game with me in real life and duped me of my money! When you’re cheated by someone, it feels really bad and it hurts at multiple levels. You think that you are smart and intelligent but you are proved wrong. I was extremely angry when I was cheated. So, in my second book, I killed the agent as I wanted to take revenge! Writing about it brought peace to me. The famous physician and novelist, Robin Cook is my inspiration when it comes to writing and I always think that – if he can do it, I can too.
You are a Jat from Mathura who got settled in Nagpur. How does a poet in you describe the diagonally opposite culture?
I was born in UP, brought up in Rajasthan and I’m working in Maharashtra now. I have always experienced cultural diversity and I blend with cultures very easily. Every state has a different culture. I have absorbed all the good things of all the cultures I have experienced and have created my own culture! Maharashtra is very rich in literature after West Bengal; the literature here is very forward and modern. Maharashtrian Brahmins are like western brahmins, they drink and have non-vegetarian food too. They are very knowledgeable and have in-depth knowledge of their culture and rituals.
Poets and writers are perceived to be romantic. What is your definition of romance?
I am a very romantic person. If I see a beautiful lady, I fall in love with her! My wife knows me very well and she gives me that independence in limits (laughs). I don’t like fighting at home. Romance adds spice to your life otherwise life can be boring. I am a very practical and a miser kind of lover. I will not spend; if she wants she can!
You have received the ‘Hindi Sahitya Academy Award’ of Maharashtra for the anthology of your Hindi poems ‘Bunde jeevan ki’. But of late you have been writing in English only. Why have you stopped writing in Hindi?
It’s nothing like that. In fact, I write more in Hindi and in Urdu. I have written and uploaded hundreds of poems on my Facebook account, which I am thinking of publishing soon. It’s very unfortunate that nowadays people don’t prefer reading in Hindi. There are only few places like universities and libraries where you can find Hindi books. The demand for Hindi literature has certainly decreased over the years.