Mehraban Badiei Ardestani

Mehraban, the Sun of Summer

She was born on a hot day in the late summer of 2001. They called her Mehraban, which means “kind” in Persian. No one knew how richly she would grow up to deserve the name. Mehraban was kind and warm, like the hot sun of the late summer days, like the bright light of that very sun, like the warmth of that very land.

Mehraban shone bright as the sun and gave life to those around her. She wanted to know the world, and knew that she had to learn the language of other countries first. She was 10 years old when she began learning English and French. The passion, talent and love within her gave energy to everyone else. She always laughed – and she had the most beautiful laugh. She was as kind as she could be. She loved as much as she could love.

Mehraban grew up. Every day she became brighter, more beautiful and more admirable. In high school, she made up her mind: she wanted to be a doctor. She wanted to cure pain. If she hadn’t been on that flight, no doubt she’d have been the finest and kindest doctor in the world: one that could have given life, could have made sacrifices, could have been a lantern in the dark. Their “human mistake” deprived not only her but us all of a sweeter future.

In her teenage years Mehraban was determined to get into a good university. In 2017 she got a student visa and emigrated to Canada with her mother. At the time, when she decided to make the move, she wrote in her diary: “My goal in the first year of migration is to meet new people and make new friends.”

Now she lived in a free, safe country, with all the drive and affection that a 16-year-old girl could have. She completed Year 11 and 12 at Woodbridge College in Toronto and was awarded her high school diploma with excellent grades. Now the University of Ottawa wanted her as an exceptional student.

Dr Sayid Badiee, Mehraban’s father, had stayed behind in Tehran. He did all he could to provide for his daughter from there. Her mother, meanwhile, supported Mehraban in Canada; she wanted her only child to achieve her big dreams. Mehraban appreciated the kindness of her parents. She gave them hope that one day she could be a specialist doctor, could buy a good house and an excellent car, and could bring her parents to live with her and repay all their efforts. Her desire for learning and knowledge was so strong that in addition to English and French, she learned Turkish and Arabic from her friends in Canada. Mehraban’s sincere desire to help others continued in Canada, where only a few months after she started at university she volunteered to help other Iranian students who wanted to study medicine. Everybody loved her. How could you not?

Then, a sudden event shook Mehraban’s family; her father fell ill. Her mother left Canada to be there for her sick husband, and found a place in Ottawa for Mehraban to live in. Mehraban now had a roommate, an Iranian girl, who was pleasant and kind like herself. Worried about her father, at night Mehraban could barely sleep. She spoke constantly with her family. When the holiday season came around, Mehraban, whose heart was in Iran, decided to visit her ailing father. Her mother insisted that she should wait till the summer holidays – that she shouldn’t go to the trouble of such a long trip for just two weeks in Iran. But Mehraban was worried and felt she had to get there. She had to see her father. And so she did, and brought the warmth of her kindness into the cold of winter. They spent many happy days together. But the time passed by quickly, and soon she had to leave again.

On the morning of January 8, 2020, Mehraban had a flight booked to Kiev. It was meant to be a stop-off on her way back to Canada. At the airport, her parents didn’t know this was the last time they would see the smiling eyes of their beloved.

Mehraban hugged her parents. She went through the gate. She waved to them from the other side, and left. There was to be no return.

When the news broke, Mehraban’s parents couldn’t believe it. They thought it was a nightmare, thought they would soon wake up and have a glass of water, call Mehraban and hear her tell them that she had arrived safely after all. They would hear her laughter and the world would be once more filled with the scent of her kindness. But it wasn’t a nightmare. It was the most bitter reality of their lives. They realised that from that moment, their lives would be permanent suffering; an endless pain. Mehraban was gone and all the tears in the world could not bring her back.

They said it was a technical fault. Mehraban’s parents were burning inside but calmed themselves by thinking that her fate had been inevitable. But a few days later, the truth was exposed. Now their suffering and pain was replaced with an endless rage. The truth came, and it smelled of destruction, not fate. Two missiles had hit the plane. They said it was human error. Just like that! Human error had led to 176 human beings losing their lives. Human error meant the destruction of 176 families.

Now, Mehraban’s parents wake up every day and remember the bitter truth: they will never see their beloved child again. They remember her last glance at the airport, and spend their painful days recalling all the other memories they have of her. Mehraban was one of the 176 whose hopes were destroyed in a moment, and they called it “human error”. Their bodies fell on the fields of their homeland.

Mehraban was gone. Mehraban, whose existence had made life on earth more beautiful, had become one of the bygone stars of the PS752. A brief, sweet and unforgettable presence. A human being who could have added to the beauty of life and enjoyed it is no longer with us. The world is missing a bright sun without her. It is missing her July warmth, her warmth-giving rays.


Writer: Aram Ravanshad
Translator: Arash Azizi
Editors: Hannah Sommerville, Natasha Schmidt
With the support of

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