“It’s strange,” she said. “I’ve changed buses here hundreds of times. I can’t even begin to count how often I’ve walked past this wall. But I’ve never noticed that inscription up there.” this words are said by Urmila one of the major character of Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Calcutta Chromosome.
Urmila, who happens to be a journalist, in Ghosh’s best selling novel was not aware of the Ross Memorial. But Ghosh’s Urmila is no exception great many of the Calcuttans are not aware of the memorial dedicated to Ronald Ross, Calcutta’s first Nobel Laureate.
Located on the Northern wall of the Presidency General (PG) Hospital, lies a arch shaped memorial dedicated to Ronald Ross, Nobel Prize winner of Medicine in 1902.
Ronald Ross (1857 – 1932) studied malaria from 1881 to 1899. Finally on 20th August 1897 Ross, working at the PG hospital discovered that malaria was transmitted by female anopheles mosquito. 20th August is celebrated as the “World Mosquito Day.”
Sadly the culturally active Calcuttans have forgotten Ross and his memorial lies in utter neglect. The arch contains a central medallion of Ronald Ross which is flanked on either side by two marble inscriptions.
The inscription on the left describes the process in which malaria was transmitted. while that on the right contains a poem written by Ronald Ross himself. Only the first three paragraphs of the poem were written on the marble plaque.
The two more paragraphs of the poem read as follows:
Half stunned I looked around
And see a land of death –
Dead bones that walk the ground
And death bones underneath:.
A race of wretches caught,
Between the palms of need
And rubbed to utter nought,
The chaff of human seed.
- Words of appreciation from the best selling author Amitav Ghosh
- My blog entry on Amitav Ghosh’s words of appreciation
- Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
- Photos from my Personal Website
List of my Blog entries on Calcutta (Kolkata)