Mohammadreza, a Man With a Deep Laugh
It was the evening of one of the last days of Mohammadreza’s stay in Iran. The hard separation from the family finally ended. His heart had a new lease on life. On the one side was the passion of leaving for a new life. On the other, all the memories of 24 years of life in Iran. Memories are the refuge of hard days. This is why Mohammadreza accepted the offer of his friends and went to their last get-together.
Memories are not all one embraces in the tough days. There is also the setar. Mohammadreza waited for four years to sort out his migration to England. If it wasn’t for the setar the pain of waiting would have hurt his soul. Now it’s him and the last get-together. In these final days, he wants to build his last memories with his group of friends. He plays the setar and a picture documents this day: An image in the midst of a story, a protagonist who is the most hesitant man in the world.
Born on October 5, 1979, Mohammadreza Kadkhodazadeh was the eldest child in the family. From an early age, he showed an interest in music, poetry, history and literature. He must have had a tough time when his parents, together with two younger sisters, left for England to build another life. He was then a student of industrial engineering. A young man 20 years of age and with a world full of dreams. Iran was full of hope in those years; in every corner of the country, people built up their dreams.
If it wasn’t for all that passion and hope, he couldn’t have survived four years of waiting. He left the university to involve himself in administrative work related to his conscription. It took four years for this to finish so that he could put an end to the restlessness of his mother, sisters, and father, and to his own longing for them. Meanwhile he had gone back to university, studying accounting. In the early days of 2014, the wait came to an end. Mohammadreza now had a visa. He could travel to England and start another life. This was a big surprise. Mohammadreza had a new trip ahead of him — a trip that culminated in family. Seventeen years after it started, the rest of this journey came to a forceful end.
It was now 14 years since Mohammadreza had lived in England’s West Sussex. Here he could enjoy the calm he had sought all his life. Now everyone knows that the boy with a good heart, the favorite of the family, wanted peace and calm more than anything else. He loved the color blue, the color of peace and quiet. One weekend, on a summer day, it was Mohammadreza’s turn to spend time with his daughter. They took this picture together.
They walked. The little girl was tired and went to hug her dad. For a small child with her little hands, this was the safest place in the world: The embrace of parents. Mohammadreza was like a playful kid, looking at his daughter. Anahita, with her purple blouse on, looks at the camera with a shining smile. Her hands are on the lips of her father. She is pushing them shut. It is a game. A game in which you speak with a shut mouth. How easy it is to entertain kids!
“Now you say: ‘Anahita’!”
Oh, Anahita. So pure like a goddess of water. Before long she has to bear the empty place where her dad should be in all photos. She has to be reminded that war took the greatest treasure of life away from her. In a little frame, a moment for all the memories of the father and his daughter, which came to an end much sooner than they thought it would. If only photos could live on. If only moments could last forever.
According to Mohammadreza’s friends, he always spoke of his daughter. He always said: “Anahita is my life.” Whenever he had to go on a trip, like in the dark winter of 2020, when he came to Iran because he had missed it so much, one thing made the last days of the trip easy: thinking of the joy of seeing Anahita again. At midnight on January 8, 2020, when Anahita was in the sweet slumber of a child, Mohammadreza was planning for their meeting upon his return. There was a lot of bad and anxious news that night, and this was how he could forget it. To think of happiness for Anahita calmed all his being, like the sound of running water.
There was also love. The other light in Mohammadreza’s life in those days was the promise of meeting his beloved. After many years, his heart was beating for someone again. He was to taste the sweetness of love. But he boarded flight PS752, and the story of his newly-found love came to an end in the endless blue of the sky.
Mohammadreza’s parents are still waiting for him. They want a miracle. Just like 17 years ago, when the visa arriving for him was a big surprise. Can he pick up the phone and call and tell them that he is coming tomorrow? Can he open the door and give his embrace to his restless father and mother? How hard it must be to always wait. How hard, how painful.
You can tell some people by the way they laugh. The deeper it is, the more they are at peace with the world. Mohammadreza Kadkhodazade was a 40-year-old man with a deep laugh. On January 8, 2020, flying over his homeland, he was shot down. They didn’t think of Anahita, who was waiting for her father, nor of the parents and the sisters who will have to miss him forever.
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