He could have taken the road almost all the physicians do. However, after doing his MBBS from Rajshahi Medical College in 1965, instead of pursuing a government job or a private opportunity he returned to his locality to offer medical services at minimal cost.

Half a century later, Basanta Kumar Roy is still serving people at Kalitola in Dinajpur on a nominal fee. For the very poor, it is free and on many occasions, he even buys them the medicine.

When this correspondent went to his chamber on 19 June, it was crowded. A large number of children were there while the doctor was seeing the patients by turn.

"We're poor, we can't pay his fees," said Jesmin who was trying to calm her ailing child. She came a long way from Chiribandar, which is in another upazila, to see him. "What other resort we have other than Basanta Daktar (doctor)?" she remarked.

There were many others who could afford to visit any other doctor but still chose to see Basanta. "It's the time and care he gives a patient," said one of them.

Such attention made many of his patients stick to him for generations. Sabina Akhter, who has come all the way from Birol upazila, was waiting with her four-year-old grandson. "I used to come with my daughter. Now she has a child," she said indicating to the boy.

"My children are in their 40s now. I brought them here till they passed their SSC exams," said Abul Kalam Azad, convener of Dinajpur Nagorik Udyog.

When most of the patients were gone, this correspondent had the opportunity to talk to the physician.

"I don't think too much money is needed to survive," Basanta Kumar said. "If one wants to serve the people, success will follow. One has to have the will to sacrifice and the mindset to serve," added the physician, who treated the freedom fighters at the camps in Jalpaiguri during the War of Liberation.

When he started seeing patients 53 years ago on a two-taka visit, even that was a big issue for many. "I treated them for free. Sometimes an old patient comes with his/her child or at times some come without a penny in the pocket. How can I take the fee from such people?"

As a student Basanta Kumar used to visit Dinajpur Ramkrishna Mission. There he met Maharaj Amritananda, the mission head who had a big influence on him to become a devotee of Swami Vivekananda. And that instilled in him the urge to serve people.

His parents, Madhusudan Roy and Ahalya Bala Roy, were not surprised by the decision. After all, Basanta was a bit different than their other four children.

Today, two of Basanta Kumar's children have followed his path to become physicians.

Life is tight-scheduled for the octogenarian now. His mornings are spent at a huge rooftop garden with hundreds of plants. Then he sees patients from 11:00am to 2:00pm. In the afternoon, he goes to the local market to buy essentials on his own. From 6:00pm to 8:00pm, he again sees the patients.

After all, he has dedicated his entire life for them.

*This feature, published in Prohtom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.