Wed Jun 24 2020 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
“‘Assalmualaikum Baba,’ I answered my phone, expecting to hear my dad apologize for not returning my calls. Instead, an unfamiliar voice said, ‘Hello, my name is Denzil.’ He told me what I didn’t expect to hear for decades. ‘Your dad’s passed away.’ Three years later, that phone call still replays in my head as I try to fall asleep at night.
Baba was far from perfect, but I realize more every day how alike we are. He was the only person who genuinely shared my interests and was able to have a conversation on any topic—medicine, history, politics, religion, music, food. He was fluent in several languages, studied abroad in Paris, and taught me how to reconcile science and religion. At 17, he landed in the United States with $60 in his pocket. He worked as a taxi driver and waiter as a full-time student to pay for college and medical school. Until the day he died, he worked harder than anyone I’ve met. He donated his time and money to help others, performed surgeries for underprivileged children in Bangladesh, and truly valued his patients’ lives over his own sleep and health. His entire life was dedicated to healing people, so much so that he died on his way to a shift in the emergency room. He had good intentions but struggled to express himself and had difficulty with personal relationships. He was the type of dad who forced me to listen to him sing along to his favorite French song one minute and yelled at me for not going to an Ivy League university the next.
I never meant to follow in Baba’s footsteps. Growing up, he was the only person who insisted I become a doctor and work alongside him. My parents were divorced and he was the one who scolded and disciplined me while my mom was always on my side. Naturally, this put medicine at the bottom of my list of career interests. Fast forward several years and I’ve ended up at Baba’s medical school with interests in the same specialties.
I lost my Nana, Nani, and Baba in a short span of four years, which made for the most challenging years of my life and catapulted me into adulthood. It was death that taught me the value of life and inspired me to pursue a profession that preserves it.”