“Javad, if I stay somewhere for too long, I think I’ll turn into Heisenberg.”
“You know, Walter White in Breaking Bad. I think I can kill people, trade drugs, I don’t know.”
“I’m not joking. I feel like that at work.”
“What about at home? So I must be Jimmy, I guess!”
“I’m not joking Javad. I am applying today.”
A year and half after these words, Elnaz had left Iran and was living and studying in Canada. She was a PhD. Student in Operation Management at University of Albrta. She and Javad were studying in the same field. They had studied at the same university in Iran, but now, they were sitting in the same class, right next to each other. Javad remembers the first time he met Elnaz. In the library of Sharif Graduate School of Management and Economics, in Tehran. Javad remembers patiently and slowly stepping forward to win this girl’s heart.
Elnaz was born in 1989, in Zanjan, Iran. Her name was an Azeri name and she liked it.
She was a demure, gracious, creative, altruistic girl; always with a smile on her face.
Her mother says: “She wasn’t just my daughter. She was everything to me. She was my being. She was my life.” Her mother does not know who will send her the first bouquet next year, on Teachers’ Day. Her father says “She always shined, just like her name. We were so proud of her.” Her sister, Parisa, writes:
“My darling Elnaz, I know your loss will destroy me one day. The grief of your loss like a never-ending road, full of ups and downs, with no end in sight. The more I go forward, the more time passes, the more I comprehend the deep misery of life. Sometimes I get full of anger, sometimes full of gloom. Sometimes full of hatred, sometimes full of weakness. And how unbearably difficult are the moments when I lose my hope of a miracle… a miracle that would bring you and all your companions back.”
Elnaz began her studies at Sama elementary school and later on, graduated from Farzanegan high school. She was a member of Young Mathematicians Association in Tehran and managed to reach the finals of the Iranian Physics Olympiad. She then entered Sharif University of Tehran. She was successful all the way.
“Javad! You see, no one glares at me here because of my scarf.”
“I don’t know, I haven’t noticed.”
“But I have. Here, no one is in my or other people’s business.”
“Is that the only difference?”
“I don’t know. Here, I feel less responsible for the sufferings. Although even from here, when I look at Iran from afar, my heart breaks. For a cheetah that was killed on the road, for a girl who was beaten in the middle of the street, for a laborer who hasn’t been paid…”
Elnaz was always exploring. She had even participated in religious courses in Iran but she had not found an answer to her questions, so she had left. She said she couldn’t take it to be a complicit in oppression and tyranny. No matter who carried out the oppression, if the religious people were involved, she didn’t want to seem to be a part of it. She was educated. She had gotten an excellent rank in the national entrance exam to university and graduated in electrical Engineering from Sharif University. She then received her Master’s Degree in MBA at Sharif University. PhD was waiting for her in Canada.
Javad remembers the gloomy courtyard of Sharif University, while Elnaz was descending from the stairs of the library. When, when should he reveal his affection for her?
They got married in December 2016, on a cold and rainy day, in Tehran. Elnaz worked in various companies, but she was not satisfied. She thought she should leave. All she had to do was open her laptop and use her English skills and her talent.
When she was leaving Iran, she knew she could not tolerate being away from her sister, her mother, her father and her brother. But she thought being away would bring her closer. She thought she could build a better picture of her hometown, while in another country. She travelled to Iran twice, in 2019. Once in the summer and once in Christmas. Within these two trips, lots of blood was shed in Iran, one could smell it. Every day, Elnaz would watch the videos of Aban protests in Iran, and would cry.
At 5:15 a.m. on that cursed day of January 8, 2020, Elnaz was sitting right next to Farideh Gholami and her son, Jivan. The imagination starts to run wild. What if the passengers knew this will be their last trip? What if Elnaz knew and that is why she did not put her cellphone on Flight Mode, or took it out of Flight Mode? A cellphone that was never returned to her family. Maybe we should think when she got on the plane, she greeted everyone. Most passengers were tired and sleepy. She told one of them: “You must be the daughter of Alireza Ghandchi”. She asked someone else: “Are you Parisa? My sister’s also called Parisa. Your daughter has such beautiful hair”. She told those two young people: “Are you Arash and Pouneh? You are a perfect match”. To the other two, Saeed and Niloufar, “You too are a perfect match”. Siavash and Sara, Hossein and Hakimeh, Ayda and Arvin. She greeted Farhad, Faezeh, Nasim, Amirhossein, Pegah, Delaram, Sadaf and Amir. While she was on her way to get to her seat, she wondered:
“What are we going to look like, after the plane crashes? Will Javad only identify my hands? Won’t they give him my ring? Will Javad tell off the IRGC officers and clergymen who will stand in front of Seyyed Mosque, for my funeral? Will he tell them that they have put the worst people of history to shame? Will he try to seek the truth, just like I did in my life? Will he find out why, why, why they are going to shoot us down? She sat down on her seat. She told Farideh: “Hougar will be born in two months, won’t he? Farideh laughed. She forgot to ask how Elnaz knew her unborn baby’ name. Instead, she caressed her son and said: “Alas… You will be deprived of that…” Elnaz remembered saying to Javad: “I’d love to have a daughter. A little girl with long beautiful hair. A girl that will grow up well. In a proper educational system. I want her to grow up to be a real human. If everyone raised their kids properly, if kids were educated by good people, we wouldn’t be this troubled.”
Elnaz laughed. She did not laugh at death. She laughed at the life that was to be taken away from her in moments. She laughed at the tyrant who scattered the dust of oblivion, on her death. Farideh said: “Dear Elnaz, they won’t forget us, will they?” Elnaz looked at her phone that was still ringing. It was Javad, from the other side of the world. Should she answer him?
She glanced at her phone and said to herself: even if the whole world forgets this atrocity, there will be some who won’t…”
With the support of Dear Elnaz Not-for-profit Corporation