A Surgeon with a Vision
By Mohammad Ashraf Chaudhry,
Pittsburg, CA

That academic excellence could so artistically and favorably blend with modesty and propriety becomes a discernible reality when you meet this young Muslim surgeon, Adnan Din. He hails from a family that like most immigrants toiled and struggled, but unlike them held on to a dream that it is knowledge, and not dollars, that ultimately take you to a better life, to a better world, a world beyond all horizons.

Imtiaz and Salahuddin, Adnan’s parents, live in Woodland, California that has nothing to do with woods. Surrounded by vast stretches of cornfields this small town includes among its inhabitants these parents who are uniquely blessed in more than one way. Their children, three sons and one daughter, got hooked on like drugs to the idea that they in America are not going to pave its streets wearing a burning Nessus’-shirt, (the kind Hercules wore that shot-up on him nothing else but a sense of dull and incurable misery, notwithstanding his potential and stupendous strength).

In America most immigrants let their indigenous and latent qualities get smothered under the onus of the day-to-day survival fatigue. These four kids of Imtiaz and Salahuddin, on the contrary chose to enter into a kind of inter-family fierce but healthy rivalry, each one of them vying to outshine the other in academics. The results, after 17 years of this fruitful competition has been, as anybody can see, rich as well as awe-inspiring.

The eldest son, Arfan Din became a physician, has served in the US navy, and is a budding and like Dr. Gupta of CNN, a very versatile doctor. Imran Din, the second son, is an MBA/MS in Management Information System and is a rising star in his own field. Saira Din, the daughter, is on the threshold to graduation from Law School with Honors, besides being a certified social worker. These kids were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Their struggle and accomplishments have now become the stories of success, and can act as precedents for those for whom sky is the limit.

Of all the children of Imtiaz and Salahuddin, the one whom I watched carefully in his accomplishments has been Adnan. And I had many reasons behind this keenness. Adnan was born the year I got married, 1971. His mother, Imtiaz, was my wife’s elder sister. His grandfather was my father’s friend. And a strange coincidence, both his grandfathers, maternal as well as paternal, had identical names, Taj ud Dins, and one being my father-in-law. And above all this was the first impression Adnan had indelibly left on me in London. The first time I met him was in London in 1977. He was a small, chubby kid who often made my stay with the family miserable because he would mistake my cajoling as a sort of intrusion. I was in England for my higher studies and Salahuddin and Imtiaz had been there for many a year. My first impression about Adnan was that he was fiercely independent, and he a ctually proved himself to be so. The family migrated to the States in 1984, and so did we.

Adnan’s real talent and his latent potential came to the fore at UC Davis where he conducted his undergraduate studies. What I had termed in him as, “fiercely independent” was actually his streak for research. Such was the quality of his research and its outcome at Davis, that he was declared the best under-graduate of the year, and was offered admission to the UC Davis Medical School, a rare feat in academics. Four years later, when I attended his graduation ceremony held at the UC Davis medical school, I was wonder-struck when the Dean of the school read a long list of his accomplishments and declared him the best medical graduate in the field of surgery. The little chubby boy who burnt the eggs on the stove in London, and insisted on doing so again, and who once called me a “monkey” when I tried to be a little chummy with him, now stood before me as the best surgeon gradua te of the year. Wordsworth was right when he said, “A child is the father of man”, and Socrates was terribly wrong when he declared that freaky children like Adnan are little terrorists, who gobble parents’ food, and terrorize elders. Who knows, they are tomorrow’s surgeons too.

Adnan after having received his medical degree from the University of California, Davis, went to UC Irvine, for his surgical training and residency. Surgical training, which often is more than the double of the ordinary physician’s training, is in itself beset with new challenges and new risks. To me a surgeon is like an F-16 pilot, faced with the risk of being grounded any time. Adnan survived these ordeals amicably and with honor. The Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper of August 28, 2003 was pleased to publish that Santa Cruz Medical Clinic was pleased to announce that Adnan Din was going to be a part of their Department of Surgery. Adnan used the scalp for one year at Santa Cruz, and restless as he has always been to reach new heights, he did not waste any time when the opportunity came to enroll himself for Fellowship in Plastic Surgery at St. Luis.

Adan is an adorable person. He is well rounded, and not wooden as far as his overall character is concerned. His subtle humor, and sly smile, and balanced reserved-ness are what I like most in him. The crowning feature of his demeanor is that he is absolutely self-effacing. Modesty even in the wake of sterling accomplishments is his peculiar characteristic. Abraham Lincoln once rightly said, “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself”. Pedantry and showmanship are miles away from him. Often in discussions on world politics I have found him well informed as well as insightful and clinical.

Last year in Pakistan when I met his grand-father, Ch. Taj-ud-din, an old man in his 90’s, and waiting for his day to say good-bye to this mundane world, I mentioned to him the accomplishments of his grand-children, especially of Adnan, in the United States of America, I saw a quiver in the listless pupils of his eyes and a little moisture in them as if telling me to tell Adnan and all that he, too, was proud of them; only if he could hold Adnan’s face in his old hands to feel that it was one of his owns.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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