Human 0010

ID: 0010

Human : Ahmed H

Country : Baghdad, Iraq

Domain: System Administration, Cybersecurity ,Medical Engineering

Job Profile: Medical Device Engineer

It was a summer ago when we were introduced to this incredible human in a Linux Group. Clouds of smoke filled the room from his vape. This young Iraqiyyun with his sense of humour would bring in resounding laughter from any crowd around him. He still grimaces whenever I would call him out and tell me, its ‘A-ha-med’ not ‘Aa-hmed’. Then he would gesture me to roll my tongue and stress on the ‘ha’. I am rather surprised that he hasn’t given up on me yet.

So here’s introducing our next human in the series.

A young twenty something, medical device engineer in the making, and here he was each day, filling out forms and sometimes handing out tongue-in-cheek advice to very demanding patients in one of the busiest hospitals in the city. And that’s how I met our next human, the young flamboyant Ahmed with a wicked sense of humour and a love for vaping. He was as Gen-Y as one can get, but beneath the exterior, there was this awfully kind human that has seen way more in life than any one of us could ever imagine. 

Portrait: Ahmed H

Introducing our Human 0010

In all the conversations I had with Ahmed, an interesting question he would always put forward was on how I was seated.

I hope you are seated comfortably’. He would ask me each time.

I would always thank him for being kind enough to ask and assure him I was seated cosily. His tone suggested a genuine concern and I was always intrigued about why this piece of information between two unexpected strangers seem so important to him.

It was later through our marvellous discussions that I figured out he had a part-time job in a hospital facility. He would seamlessly transition from talking about server systems to informing me about how most techies have a lumbar-spine nerve damage due to our prolonged hours of being chained to the desk due to our demanding jobs.

I was definitely guilty of that too.

He would chastise me further and say , ‘You are gonna kill your back someday, you know.’ Every time I slumped down in my work chair, I am now reminded of this painful episode where he witnessed a spinal reconstruction surgery and I can’t help but grin to know how he has ingrained that image forever in my head.

That was his own way of caring about people. And it reflected in his work-place too.

And in his own words, he had to don a few hats too many. One day he was the receptionist, another day he was figuring out an issue in the server system or helping out patients in figuring out their medical accounts. We would laugh about the trivial questions he would get from disgruntled patients. One day it was the price of a needle, another day it was on rubbing alcohol, each day brought out a new concern. 

The patients simply don’t have patience’ is what he would lament to me.

I reminded him how it rhymed perfectly and he would shake his head in disbelief and roll his eyes.

Here he was taking up a job that drew him in because one of the requirements was to handle the hospital’s server systems. It was a task that once again brought him closer to working with a technology that has fascinated him as a young child.

And as he would like me to add that it did help that some visitors were beautiful women.

So I asked him if it was the women that intrigued him more.

He chuckled and told me it was definitely the ‘Server System‘.

There we go, Classic Ahmed!

 And the best part about his workplace was Abbas, an Indian migrant, who makes what he calls ‘throat-burning’ and ‘gut-wrenching’ Masala Chai.

He would exclaim, ‘That bloody guy burns a hole in your throat!’.

Keeping the magical tea aside, he did find a friend and a mentor in the much older Abbas. It made his workplace more appealing and lively. He animatedly explains how Abbas even years later still hasn’t been able to call him ‘A-ha-med’ and his attempt to impersonate him didn’t really make much of a difference to either of us.

I cracked up on how he still hasn’t given up on Abbas too. We are all getting there .

Human 0010

A rough patch in his life

There was more lurking beneath the surface of this young dynamic man who cares deeply for the people around him.

 His story is something of resilience and endurance. For the greater part of his childhood, he was separated from his family. The cause of geo-politics that affects millions across the world. When I asked him how he got through that phase, he gleefully tells me about how the kids he grew up with would play football together and nothing around them really mattered.

And hearing him talk about it transported me to a place down the lanes of Baghdad.

A bunch of young boys cheering and giggling over a football, bonding over a sport that has been bringing together people for centuries.

Finding a family of their own through their circumstances.

And that was our Ahmed‘s humble beginnings.

He reminds me that it wasn’t such a bad memory as once he got to know all the other kids on a first-name basis. He had a wonderful time playing all sorts of sports with them. One evening it was basketball that gave these children company and another day it was volleyball.

It reminded me of an essay my high school teacher had once read us on how Jesse Owens‘ win at the 1936 Berlin Olympics wasn’t just an achievement, it was a beacon of hope for humanity. Sports wasn’t just a game; it had the potential to change lives.

Those giggling voices of young little boys echoed through our conversation that day.

It was never our circumstances that really curtailed us , it’s our perception that truly limits us . And Ahmed showed us how sometimes we fail to see the beauty of life in the smallest of things around us.

Initiation into the Tech Space

He had an admission that his interest in technology started out as a means to fill the void of separation. He started out tinkering old PC’s much to the annoyance of his elder brother. And he would find ways to hide from him and sit down to sometimes dismantle his brother’s computers.

I teased him a little on whether his brother’s attitude towards him spending too much time in front of the computer contributed to his interest even more.

 We both ended up laughing.

Here was a universal truth, no matter which corner of the world you lived in, you don’t tell a rebellious teenager what to do.

And it was true, for all the tech geeks out there, we all have been told or chastised for spending way more time in front of a computer than we should. 

Those were indeed the good ol’ days of discovering a new world, of innocence and unwavering dreams.

I imagined a young boy, working through the night endlessly, creating a world of his own. 

When I asked him what interested him the most in those days, he reminded me of Visual Basic and Ms-Dos and how he created his first calculator. It created a lasting impression on a young teenager who found something he could call his ‘own’ using programming languages.

His interest in Linux systems started out when he learned to change desktop backgrounds using the terminal. Kali Linux changed his perception of the whole world of tech. He confided that he felt like a ‘CTO’ of his imaginary tech company. There was no stopping him from diving deeper into the system. And cybersecurity is one domain he truly feels where his heart is at.

His story does give you a hope of how technology has changed lives for the better and continues to do so. He truly represents the next generation of tech-savvy Middle Easterners putting their best foot forward in the tech domain.

‘Al-Ayylaa hei qowa

Ahmed H, 2022

Life in Baghdad

He earnestly talks about his friends at his university including his childhood sidekick ‘Saif’ and how they often catch up at their favorite spot: The Piano Café over coffee and ‘Nargila‘, talking about life and politics like all young twenty-year old’s with life at their footsteps. He wishes the tech industry would see a boom in his hometown too. He talks about how the youth still opts for traditional jobs in the medical sector as the tech domain hasn’t really been able to generate the attention it deserves.

When I ask him what he would love to change, he didn’t pause for a second to reply back.

The damn internet!! It could be so much better’.

I can’t fathom any Gen-Y in his hometown not agreeing to this.

Growing up in a world of Instagram and Tik-Tok, he tells me how important cybersecurity has really become. He narrates to me bitter episodes and tales of people that have become victims of the increasing rate of cyber-crimes in his place. It’s an issue he feels passionately about too.

He recounts attending several awareness campaigns organized by either the government or the National Security Services. He dreams of setting up something that could help people safeguard their data and prevent the cyber-crimes that happen around him and make his peers recognise the future that technology holds.

Arabic scripture
Arabic Scripture on Stonework (courtesy: Pixabay)

Reconciliation and hope

I had read a poem by Rumi to him on a rather poignant dawn. He patiently sat through it and told me how he had never really read many poems from his region. I quoted a single verse that I felt really summed up his life. 

 “The wound is the place where the light enters

He translated it into Arabic . 

الجرح هو المكان الذي يدخلك فيه الضوء

Aljurh hu almakan aladhi yadkhuluk fih aldaw’

And we just sat there in silence as dawn broke through. 

Him with his prayer beads rustling through the silence and me clutching my trusty old translation of Rumi.

In that same way, dawn did break through Ahmed’s life . He was reunited with his family and we talked endlessly about his mom’s famous Dolma, the aromatic Iraqi delicacy. 

He was finally home. Surrounded by people that matter to him, he quotes me an Arabic phrase :

العائلة هي قوة

Al-Ayylaa hei qowa

I dread translating such powerful words from an ancient language as old as time to something else. So I asked him if he would like to translate it for me and he breathes out a few words that most of us take for granted in our lives.

Family is Power

This was his chance at healing, of another life of hope and opportunity.

Our chance encounter with this wonderful human taught us the importance of perseverance and of never letting your circumstances define who you are. Life is indeed a gift and Ahmed’s resolve to change his narrative has only strengthened that belief.

As he would add, ‘You can’t possibly end me in a tear-jerking way’.

I promised him I won’t.

And as Ahmed would like to reconfirm there was still room for more love lurking around just right the corner.

I prod him a little further and ask who his ideal partner was.

He gives off a mischievous wink and asks me if I can find him someone like Detective Chloe Decker (from the TV series – Lucifer).

And disappeared off in a cloud of vape smoke and laughter.

Classic Ahmed!!

Connect with us on:

Leave a Reply