“Doctor, how long till I recover?” asked the young woman covering her face with her shawl, displaying both modesty and desiring to conceal the inflated jaw that had been operated on.
Dr. Changaiz Khan had become adept at responding to patients whose cancer was diagnosed during a late stage.
“It depends on how well you follow the prescription,” he responded with a reassuring smile.
Like with so much else in life, Changaiz saw the mysterious role of fate in his dental practice often attain a greater importance than the defined outcomes of medical science. He was not a religious man. In fact, his tumultuous relationship with faith is an entirely separate story. But as a maxillofacial surgeon, he had seen too many miraculous survivals and had to endure recuperating patients relapse without recovering again.
It should be mentioned that ‘Changaiz Khan’ is a localized pronunciation of the great Mongol horde, ‘Genghis Khan’, who traumatized the world with his dreadful conquests. However, Dr. Changaiz should be forgiven for having none of his namesake’s renowned characteristics. Hailing from the city of Quetta and belonging to the Pushtuun ethnic group, Changaiz has had to travel the length and breadth of Pakistan to move up the ladder in his practice. After completing his Bachelors in Dental Sciences from Quetta, Changaiz took up training in Karachi and now resides in Lahore.
“I believe there is an unseen power that is channeling our direction in life. I don’t know what it is, but my experience leads me to this undeniable conclusion.”
“It should be mentioned that ‘Changaiz Khan’ is a localized pronunciation of the great Mongol horde, ‘Genghis Khan’, who traumatized the world with his dreadful conquests. However, Dr. Changaiz should be forgiven for having none of his namesake’s renowned characteristics.”
Although only 29, he recalls the days when he would mock those who refused to abide by reason and rationalism. Whilst walking down the Hazara neighborhood of Quetta, he came across a fortune-teller. Hazara are descendents of the Mongolians who, lead by Genghis Khan, briefly conquered the region of what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan. Changaiz presented his palm for an analysis.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” quipped Changaiz with a smile.
The old man scanned the hand without touching it. The Hazara spoke whilst maintaining the frozen stare, seeking some destination in the meandering lines of fate.
“You are blessed with fortune. You had almost achieved the burning desires of your heart.”
The old man paused, as if to verify what the palm was communicating to him.
“However, you are now under the influence of evil eyes. Your good fortune has been locked behind the iron doors.”
He then claimed handed Changaiz a six-inch shoe-string.
“Tie three knots into it. Make them as tight as you possibly can,” instructed the old man.
Changaiz was then asked to place it on the ground and cover it completely with his outstretched hand. The Hazara fortune-teller pulled out a small stick and hovered it above Changaiz’s hand, chanting ancient, undecipherable words.
Upon removing his hand, Changaiz found the three knots of the shoe-lace undone.
“The influence of the evil-eye is now shattered. Hold on to your desires, for they will be realized by you,” assured the old man.
Changaiz left the old man thinking that there must be some scientific explanations for the way the knots became undone so easily.
“The Hazara man was probably a magician of some sorts with that ‘magical’ shoe-string. But I have to admit, for a very brief moment, I felt taken-aback.”
Struggling through med school and trying to achieve a name in his adopted field in a country lacking reputable institutions but brimming with medical professionals competing for posts, the incident with the old Hazara man planted the seeds of the immense, though not always perceptible, hand of fate that unleashes possibilities beyond our calculations.
To say the least, these are trying times for the people of his ethnic group, particularly since his home-town is often claimed to be the headquarters of the Taliban in the western media. While it is a conservative city, Quetta is also a city with competing ideologies, including that of socialists who find a ripe environment as the region evolves from a tribal to urbanized society. Changaiz’s favorite professor was Dr. Shah Mohammad Marri who belonged to one of the most backward areas of Balochistan. Dr. Marri, having written such books as the translation of the “Communist Manifesto” in the local Baloch language, and books on the status of women in Baloch society, were inspirations for Changaiz as he sought rational explanations to realities around him.
Changaiz used to be religious, then became fascinated with communist philosophy, and today is studying world religions, having a strong desire to know the ultimate and absolute reality of the universe.
As he works through his research paper and presentation on the “Surgical approaches to the temporomandibular joint”, he comments on the twists of time. It reflects the case of a man of science affirming respect of the unknown, whatever form or manifestation it may be.
“We can work extremely hard, using all our physical and mental capacities. But a sleight of hand can alter our journey, a wave of a wand can undo our most certain of efforts.”
Thank you Dr. Khan, for sharing your Story with us.
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© 2009 by Fraz Shafique and Story of My Life