I’ve never written anyone obituaries. Haven’t read many either. I do not know what the format is, if there is any. Should one be close to a person to write an obit? Should one know them intimately? Shared a coffee, had a conversation? I do not know. But I do wish to express a little about how I feel about a couple of great humans that passed away this year.
Sir Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)
This year in March when I was on Hacker News, I saw a post on the front page Sir Terry Pratchett has died. I did not know who Terry Pratchett is, never heard his name before. When I checked the link I realized he was a writer that wrote a huge number of books set in a magical place, The Discworld. The comments on Hacker News made me want to check out this author and I started with the book Equal Rites and fell in love with his work from thereon. No wonder he is so popular. I wish I came across him when I was younger. His is powerful literature cushioned in magic and comedy, incredible comedy. I started slowly going through his books according to the suggested reading order and reading each book is an exhilarating exercise.
His books have brought the joyful wonder of youth back to my life. I am still to read a majority of his books and I am sure I will read all his work in due time. I just want to thank you for the joy you brought into my life Sir Terry Pratchett.
Dr. Oliver Sacks (1933-2015)
The first time I heard about Dr. Oliver Sacks was on the Radiolab podcast. The first time that episode was broadcast was in July 2015. The warmth in Robert Krulwich’s(the host of Radiolab) voice when he spoke of Dr. Sacks made me wonder who this man is and as the episode went on and I learnt of this fascinating man my respect for him increased as did my curiosity. So, I went ahead and bought his autorbiography On the move: A Life.
The book is a fascinating read not just for the simplicity of the prose but for a beautiful life it captures. By no means did this gifted neurologist have an easy life. He was a gay man in one of the toughest times of the twenty first century. He was severely addicted to drugs for a long period in his late twenties and early thirties. He faced persecution for standing up to his superiors at work. He struggled to find love for a long time in his life. But what makes this a beautiful life is he persevered. He lived a passionate life. He travelled, wrote, treated his patients with dignity as human beings, researched with great scientists, brought medicine closer to the regular folks and has shown that it is after all humanity that is the corenerstone of medicine.
I have meant to write a small missive to him telling him about how his life has inspired me but now I end up writing him an obituary. Rest in peace Dr. Oliver Sacks, you will be remembered fondly and with love.