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Time Turner

A Bangladeshi doctor's remarkable career

Reema Islam
March 04 , 2017
01 Min Read

A memoir by a Bangladeshi doctor, The Temple Road narrates his humble journey from a small village in Bangladesh to becoming an acclaimed oncologist in the US. It is a chronological account trailing his childhood in the 1950s to his current status, with a tone of naiveté that grows on the reader. The old-fashioned writing style matches Rahman’s traditional views on many topics and leads the reader to appreciate the sharp academic he eventually becomes.

Born in a village bordering the Sundarbans, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where the famed Royal Bengal tiger was a constant threat (as opposed to its now threatened existence), Rahman starts from when he loses his mother at the age of seven, due to lack of timely medical care. The kala-azar, or black fever, next attacks him; both experiences would form the base of his compassion towards his future patients’ plight. We soon traverse the temple road as Rahman passes a patch of road, shadowed by leafy trees and a temple that lend it its spookiness and an air of the unknown.

He adds anecdotes to describe the village life that is so crucial into shaping him, while trying to explain some of the strange customs there, and touches upon religious discrimination and communal issues, as well as popular folklore. However, his best contribution is an inside look into the educational culture of the 1950s, which sadly has not changed much in terms of offering students a wider choice of careers. Rahman also compares the differences in medical practice in the US and Bangladesh but leaves the reader with the understanding that provided they are honest in their work, doctors are the same everywhere.

He is extravagant in paying homage to his teachers. The book is the journey of a man who led an ordinary life, but it still manages to sound intriguing with its tale of tigers, exam results, Bangladesh’s impending war of independence, racial discrimination in the US and Rahman’s recent views on the rapid shift towards a more narrow-minded religious society in Bangladesh. Rahman is of a different era and his book is a light read, a window into that world. 


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