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Words – A Portal to Immortality

23 Aug 2022

Throughout the centuries, many doctors have chosen to pursue creative writing alongside their medical profession. Among the physicians who utilised their creative potential to produce compelling literary pieces are Anton Chekhov, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Keats, and Khaled Hosseini. Here at International Medical University (IMU), we have A/Prof Pathiyil Ravi Shankar (in the photo above). As one of the faculty members at the IMU Centre for Education, Dr Ravi, as he is fondly known by his colleagues, has written manuscripts, short stories, essays, travelogues, poetry, science fiction and articles about real-life events. He is also a faculty advisor and contributor to medical student magazines.


On 19 July 2022, the Centre for Bioethics and Humanities had the privilege of inviting Dr Ravi as the speaker for a one-hour webinar titled Words – A Portal to Immortality. The webinar started with Dr Ravi sharing his love for reading materials ranging from novels, magazines, travelogues and even comics. This eventually led him to develop a keen interest in creative writing.

Dr Ravi’s foray into creative writing only began when he was in medical school. As a medical student, Dr Ravi participated in creative writing competitions and wrote for the college magazine. Fuelled by his passion for hiking, travelling, and taking photographs, Dr Ravi continued to write for newspapers, magazines, and journals.


For Dr Ravi, writing has helped him to put his thoughts together, broaden his perspective and reflect. In this regard, he expressed, “I always find writing pleasurable…I especially love creative writing as it gives me a lot of freedom.”


While discussing the topic of modern-day storytelling, Dr Ravi remarked that the spoken word is becoming increasingly important. People can post their stories in the form of short videos on social media platforms such as Twitter, Tik Tok, and Youtube and profit from them. He believes that the practice of telling stories may have originated from our ancestors as they used to gather around the fire and tell tales. Despite the similarity between both forms of storytelling, Dr Ravi claimed that modern-day videos might not require as much imagination as fireside tales. For this reason, there are ongoing debates on whether contemporary storytelling techniques can diminish people’s imaginative capacity and decrease people’s attentiveness.


Referring to a quote from William Faulkner on the role of reading in writing, Dr Ravi commented that reading extensively can help aspiring authors gain mastery in writing. This is because reading a wide range of materials allows us to discover different writing styles and strategies that can supplement our own writing skills.


On a final note, Dr Ravi emphasised that although writing may be a long and arduous endeavour, one should not give up easily as writing is a journey and a process that requires patience.


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