Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ahror the author

My friend Ahror Rahmedov has just published a memoir, Finding Face and Faith in America.

I haven't read it yet, but plan to do so over the holidays. I've blogged about Ahror some before, most notably when he graduated from the computer science program at the University of Washington.

Ahror is a remarkable young man, who has overcome more challenges in his 32 years than most of us do in a lifetime. And, as I have been since I met him, I am struck by his total lack of bitterness. So much was unjustly taken away from him, and yet, there is not a trace of anger or self-pity that I can see.

As he tells it:

My parents had six daughters after me. I was the oldest child. My sisters are all grown up by now, the youngest one having graduated from high school this year in 2005.

After going to elementary and middle schools in Zangiota, my mom took me to a special high school for talented young kids in Toshkent City so I could study math thoroughly. I passed the entrance exams with high scores and eventually became good at math (not that I am now though).

My mother died from cancer when I was just about to graduate. It hit me hard seeing my mother helpless in the face of a horrible disease, so I decided to be a doctor. I didn't pass the exam to a medical school in Toshkent the first year, so I had to prepare one more year, this time focusing on Chemistry and Biology. Preparation was good and I passed the exam next year.

By this time the former Soviet Union had broken up, and Uzbekistan gotten its independence from Russia. I had been working at a butcher shop and learning how to survive in a corrupted soviet society witnessing firsthand all the scams at the store.

I continued my studies at Toshkent State Medical Institute and worked part time in one of the research labs operating on rats most of the time. It was a good experience. In the fourth year of my school, my dad got unjustly thrown into prison where he was persecuted by communists for the crimes he hadn't committed. (I will tell all about it in my book).

I had to take care of my sisters so I worked extra hours at a main train station selling produce with my classmates from youth. It wasn't easy studying full time and then working two part time jobs after school hours.

As if it wasn't enough, I got hit by a signal rocket in my face while attending a friend's wedding. It blew my face off and knocked me unconscious. I found myself in a hospital when I regained my senses. The injury was massive and there was no hope for my recovery. A miracle had to happen to get me out of that hopeless situation.

After two years in local hospitals, two Americans discovered me and helped me to come to United States to have reconstructive surgeries in Seattle. I met many great people in Seattle, most of whom were the members of the Seattle Toshkent Sister City Association. They helped me with fundraisers to cover hospital expenses and my doctors offered their services free of charge (I will tell all about it in my book). It was quite an ordeal in itself.

I was able to get started at Seattle Central Community College with the help of my friends to continue my once interrupted education. After a year and a half there, I transferred to the University of Washington where I got accepted into their computer science and engineering program. While at the UW I worked part time in the Speech and Hearing Sciences department as a technical support specialist.

Then I applied to UCLA graduate school after getting my BS degree in Computer Science from the UW. I now study Biomedical Engineering at the UCLA and live in Los Angeles going to the beaches every chance I get.

Ahror has a real talent for physics and math--I had hoped he would become a scientist, but he has taken a different path, one which I do not totally understand, but I see that it makes him happy. That he could come back from such a devastating injury to return to school, make a career and an independent life for himself, and tell his own story in his third language, pleases me no end for him.


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