Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani

Mansoor, a River That Dried Up

I was just hanging up my white wedding dress when blackness tore through the tulle, and the light of my life went out. I am Hanie, wife of Mansoor. Thirteen days after our wedding, Mansoor was killed: not because he wanted to die but at the hands of those he thought he could fight alongside one day. He always said he would go back to his homeland if Iran went to war. Gone were the roses in our wedding bouquet, the roses we were going to dry and hang on the walls of our shared home.

Our love wasn’t 13 days old. It went back 12 years. The life of Mansoor and I began with love. He was filled with kindness. We were in love for 12 years and able to live together for almost three. I kept going back to Iran all the while.

Mansoor was born in the summer of 1990 in Isfahan, near the Zayande river. In those days the river was still alive. The Mansoors of the city were still alive. The river gave people hopes and dreams, and gave Mansoor a passion for life. They were going to build up that beautiful city but others didn’t let them. So the Mansoors left. They had killed the youth of the city just as they killed the river.

Mansoor wasn’t an only child; he had a brother. He was endlessly kind, noble, responsible and full of foresight. His mother says he was always punctual, ever since he was a kid – though his death was anything but timely. In the mornings, she said, Mansoor would be standing by the school door even before the caretaker came in. The guard once told him he could have the keys and open up himself. Now I wish all the keys were broken and no world could be entered into again. What kind of a fate was this?

Mansoor was a member of Iran’s National Elites Foundation. During his conscription years he had worked at the Ministry of Defense. He turned down a job offer from the Foundation; he wanted to study, and he was always top of the class. He came first in the national examination for MA enrolments, and when he finished his MA he went straight on to his PhD. He applied to do a PhD in a few countries, including Canada, to study construction management. Mansoor was a brilliant student and in less than a year he would indeed receive his PhD from the University of Waterloo.

From Waterloo, his professor, Carl T. Haas, wrote me an email about Mansoor:

“Dear Hanieh,

It has taken me some time to write to you, as our feelings and thoughts have been in such turmoil in the last week. I do not think I can imagine how you and your family feel. It must be almost unbearable. His passing has strongly affected me, his friends, and his colleagues… I would like to tell you how Mansour affected me and this department. I have not shared these thoughts with anyone else.

We have been fortunate to have so many young, talented and energetic people continue to come from around the world to contribute to our communities and to our great country. Our university, our departments, and many of us as individuals have been blessed with the arrival of some of the best and the brightest from Iran, who come to seek opportunity and fulfillment for themselves and their families. Mansour, as you know, was one of those people. It has been an honour for me to have worked with Mansour and other Iranian students over the years.

I know it is a huge challenge to come to a place with a fundamentally different culture, different national languages, and with legal and administrative processes that must seem so opaque and confusing at first. I remember Mansour’s arrival and his reaction to the culture shock. What I remember is that his positive attitude never faltered. He was never late to a meeting. He worked to get to know his fellow students and to join them in their sports teams and social activities. He worked hard on his studies and his research… He would show up on so many weekends to scan a building project for his research or course work… He was always ready with a quick smile. His research on better planning for adaptive reuse of buildings meant something. Because of it, maybe someday we will stop tearing down buildings and making mountains of materials waste. Maybe we will achieve a truly circular economy in the built environment, that will contribute to a cleaner, less wasteful world. Mansour was helping to make that dream possible.”

These days, with Mansoor gone, all I do is leaf back through memories. I remember last summer, when Mansoor came to Iran and we went on a family trip. Throughout the trip Mansoor constantly had a laptop open for work. Even on this last trip, I joked: “Mansoor, on the wedding day, why don’t you go to the management office to study? Just come for the couples’ dance, do your job and leave.” He laughed.

Mansoor was full of goals, and full of hope. He had plans for every second of his life. I was proud to have him. Mansoor’s last message to me said he was happy that the wedding had taken place and he hoped we’d see each other again soon. Now, that meeting will only happen on Judgment Day.

Mansoor is gone. Forever. Mansoor dried up like the river in Isfahan, of which only a trace remains.

Writer: Sharare Shariatzade
Translator: Arash Azizi
Editors: Hannah Sommerville, Natasha Schmidt
With the support of


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