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The Story Behind the Person: Dr. Amita Dayal, There is a Book in All of Us


by Jonathan van Bilsen


Being a physician certainly has its challenges and most often, the work can be quite demanding, so where does someone, as busy as Dr. Amita Dayal, find time to write a book?

“I have always loved reading,” she said, during a recent interview. “It opens so many doors into wonderful places. I have felt a need to write for a long time.” And write she did. Her recently published children’s book, entitled ‘Leo’s End of Summer Bath’ is flying off the shelves.

Amita Dayal was born and raised in Scarborough. Her parents, both new Canadians, established values in both their daughters. Amita’s father was an Engineer who had seriously contemplated becoming a physician, but had difficulty with the sight of blood, so he chose another route.

Her mother, born in England, had a great aptitude for science and education and chose the path of teaching. “The irony of it is, my mother taught French immersion, and when I was around ten she taught at R.H. Cornish for a year. So, when I graduated I was already familiar with Port Perry.’ I chuckled when Amita explained how she loved to come to school with her mother, and set up the classroom. “I enjoyed rearranging and sorting all the little stationary items,” she explained, smiling as she reminisced.

Not averse to working, at an early age, Amita had a part time job at Woolco - there is a blast from the past, in most every department. Continuing this part time position for 8 years, she ended up in the pharmacy section.

“I have always loved the sciences,” she said. Chemistry and biology came easily, and I knew I wanted to go into a related field.” Like her father, she too had a dislike for blood and the like, but her father, who sometimes regretted not becoming a physician, suggested she learn to deal with the phobia. “Treat is like it was a challenge,” he would say, and she did.

After graduating from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate, Amita attended York University, where she completed three years, ending with a Bachelor of Science degree. Reading was her passion and quite often, fellow students would ask what book she was reading, curious what course it pertained to. “It has nothing to do with my course,” Amita explained. She just enjoyed reading all genres.

Her next step was the medical school at the University of Western Ontario. She met her now husband, the day before she began her medical training, but put any notions of partnership on hold, as she needed to dedicate 100 percent of her resources to her studies.

Upon graduation from Western, Dr. Dayal did her residency at the University of Toronto. Through Dr. Bill Cohoon, one of Port Perry’s legendary physicians, she was recruited to spend a year of her two-year term in our small town.

“Because my mother taught here, and I had accompanied her several times, I was familiar with Port Perry and have always had a fondness for it.”

Amita moved here and began her practice with Medical Associates. She still had a nagging desire to write a book, but it would have to wait. Now married, the couple purchased a house and life was good. The new doctor, however, preferred open spaces, and after several moves in town, Amita, her husband and two children moved to a farm on the outskirts of Port Perry.

One day, as every parent continually experiences, she was after her son to take a bath. “I already took one,” he said. Knowing this was not the case, Amita pressed him and, although her son assumed a swim in the lake was the same, mom did not. The story led her to think about a possible children’s book. It was enough to fuel the writing desire, and Amita penned her first children’s story.

The book of course, a work of fiction, deals with Leo, a young boy who loves summer vacation. He loves going fishing and hunting for frogs and salamanders. In fact, he loves catching fish, frogs, and salamanders so much that he daydreams about it all the time, even when he is doing other things! Leo is so distracted that one important task slips his mind all summer long: taking a bath!

When Leo gets home at the end of the summer and finally takes a long-awaited bath, he and his family are in for a surprise . . . I won’t spoil the remainder of the book for you. It is available at Books Galore and on Amazon.

Leo's End-of-Summer Bath reminds readers young and old, getting messy is good fun-but cleaning up is important too.

“I have always wanted to write a novel about my father and the challenges he faced, but am afraid of the commitment.” Her medical practice takes up a great deal of time, and her family is her priority. “Now that I have published a book, I want to do it again.”

Along with ‘Leo’, Dr. Dayal has published several medical papers, and the idea of being a published author appeals to her, perhaps to the degree she will tackle other projects.

If her dedication to writing is anything like her dedication to her patients, she will no doubt be a very successful author.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.

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