Farhad Niknam

 Farhad, Your Confidential Letter is With Us

On January 7, 2020, Mojgan opened the letterbox. A dark envelope was inside: Confidential for Farhad Niknam. When she came into the house, she called Farhad. Farhad was in Iran.

“Hello, my dear. I’ve weighed my suitcase. I’ll put Yana’s doll in my handbag because the luggage is a kilo too heavy now.”

“Farhad, there’s a confidential letter here for you.”

“I told you this doll was too big and might not fit.”

“Farhad jaan, I said you have a letter. Should I open it?”

“What is it? Open it. Let’s see what it is.”

“Should I?”

“Yes, let’s see what’s in there.”

Farhad was born on a hot summer’s day in 1975, in Babak Hospital. They were going to name him Babak but his father, a teacher, and his mother, a nurse, named him Farhad in the end. A sweet, darkish little boy who loved airplanes, he lived in Isfahan for a few short years of his primary education and then came back to Tehran.

Farhad loved chemical experiments. He came close to burning the house down a few times. His two younger brothers assisted him, but when trouble came and the house was about to be burned down, they’d point the finger at him. “It was Farhad, Mama! Farhad threw the green stone in the pot. Farhad lit the matches. Farhad…”

Yes, it was Farhad who got into university to study chemistry. Strangely enough, though, he didn’t like it. He studied for a year at Isfahan’s Industrial University before leaving, then worked twice as hard, lost sleep at night, took the national exams again and this time got onto a dentistry course.

It was 1994. Farhad was a good dentist and a friend on whose promises you could count. When he asked Mojgan to marry him, everyone knew he’d stick to his promise to her all his life. Mojgan couldn’t have possibly found a kinder man and Farhad loved to amaze her with what he did.

On one occasion, after an fantastic trip – as always, organized by Farhad – Mojgan found herself frustrated. Farhad said: “We’ll go on another trip tomorrow.” Mojgan asked where they were going to go, and Farhad said Qom. Mojgan laughed and didn’t take him seriously.

But Farhad woke Mojgan up early the next morning. He had the suitcase in the car and said, “Let’s go.” So they did, travelling in the direction of Qom. Near the international airport, a place that would one day become Farhad’s execution site, he told Mojgan he had to see to something at the airport and then they could leave. Mojgan didn’t say anything. Where would they go in Qom? she was wondering. Then when they got to the airport, Farhad showed her tickets for a new trip. When Mojgan opened her suitcase later, she found that Farhad had packed carefully and thought of everything.

Farhad was the same even when they later had children. They had moved to Canada by then. While they passed their painstaking exams, one after the other, Farhad sometimes came back to Iran to see his patients and put away some money. To be away meant Facetime, kissing your wife and kids from afar. But he always knew how to go the extra mile. Mojgan remembers one day when she had accidentally left her lunch at home and suddenly heard someone knocking at the door. It was Farhad with a bike helmet on. Her gave her the lunchbox and went back home.

On January 8, 2020, Mojgan, Yana, and Yoona were impatiently awaiting Farhad’s arrival. The confidential letter they had received yesterday was Farhad’s official permission to work in Canada. The papers they had tried to obtain for years were now with them, and Mojgan couldn’t decide whether to take the letter with her to the airport. Should she hug him and say, “Farhad! Finally. Farhad, finally”?

“Yes, my daughter. Daddy will bring you a doll. Yes, my son. Sure, Daddy will take you cycling.”

Farhad had gone to Iran to finalise the sale of his office and house and to come back to Canada, where they had bought a house in Toronto and a car. Everything was ready for the life he had dreamed of. His parents and brothers were with him. The spring and summer would come.

But Mojgan has been waiting a long time now for him at the airport, holding the hands of their son and daughter. Farhad is buried in a cemetery in Toronto. Snow has fallen. Rain has fallen. But she is still there in the airport, waiting. They have held a memorial for Farhad, full of glory, with all his friends. Time has passed. Some say the soil is cold and will make you forget. They’ve wished for his soul to be happy. They’ve said he was a good man.

But for Mojgan these are a bunch of empty words. Those who say them know nothing of grief. She is sitting in the airport and she is waiting. Even if Farhad doesn’t come back, justice will one day arrive instead. You cannot hug justice. You cannot kiss justice. You cannot travel with justice. But justice can ease the pain for Mojgan, for the survivors, for Yana, for Yoona, for Farhad’s father with his white hair and beard, for his angry brothers, for his mother. Mojgan waits at the airport for that day.

Writer: Hamed Esmaelion
Translator: Arash Azizi
Editor: Hannah Somerville
With the support of iranwire.com

Farhad Niknam - gallery photo

Farhad Niknam - Dentist

Farhad Niknam - Dentist

Farhad Niknam , vacation with his family

Farhad Niknam and his wife

Farhad Niknam and his daughter

Farhad Niknam and his son

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