Our Niloufar, Everybody’s Niloufar
Don’t think of the world at war,
Don’t think you can’t bring peace,
You are only one, not a thousand
You light your own lights!
We loved Tuesdays. When it was dark in winter and our souls and bodies froze, the big hugs of Behrokh and Niloufar generously awaited us every Tuesday at 7 pm in our eternal refuge, the Makik Cultural Center. Tuesdays were colorful, warm and exciting. Niloufar had her freshly-brewed tea ready and her eternal smile was always there! You could hear the sound of lovable people’s laughter. You needed no pretext to hug, to kiss, to speak of your heart.
Niloufar was always there. Whenever she was absent, everyone asked for her. Wherever she was, that place turned into a warm, secure home. With the way she listened fervently to our complaints and then calmly responded, our fears vanished into thin air and we gained hope again.
Fashionable, beautiful, fearless in love. She laughed boldly and radiated kindness. Her beautiful house was always open to all: a warm refuge where we went wandering, when our hearts missed her and we wanted someone to understand. Niloufar understood you well. She knew very well what it means to drift on a winding side road, without knowing when you’ll hit the main road again. Niloufar knew the pain of beginnings, defeats, losing, getting up and starting anew. With all her being, she understood the cost of rebuilding from ruins and fighting for what’s right. But what Niloufar really had, and others lacked, was the boldness of investing in love. This was why we ran after her like little ducklings and stuck to her. This was why she embraced us.
“Are these your daughters?” they asked her.
She’d gaze into our eyes, put her hand on our necks and proudly say: “Yes! These are my good daughters.”
Her beautiful twins, Asiyah and Salmeh, laughed. Salman, Niloufar’s eldest son, said, “My mom is everyone’s mom!”
Niloufar seemed to never get tired. So long as it didn’t stab her in the back, she didn’t mind the long road she travelled nor all that lay ahead. She was not afraid of cruelty, rage and pain. It didn’t hold her back. She’d get up, smile and give out more love. To her children, to the eternally green plants of her house, and to people, good or bad.
“When there is love, why any other path?” she’d ask.
But my dear Niloufar, did you know that you were the only one for whom choosing the path of love was the only choice? You, who were born with love and whose love could be seen in your children, your smile, your glance, in the air of your house and in your incredible cooking. For you, it was easy to forgive and to laugh at this ridiculous world. For them, it was easy to trample on flowers and betray all those sweet lives… oh, those sweet lives…
Our dearest Niloufar… if you were here… in a parallel world, if your missing the love of father and mother, Elahe and Sedighe, hadn’t forced you to change your flight to three days earlier… you’d be waking up now from this terrible nightmare and saying, “Love will make us alright.”
My dearest Niloufar! My mother fears for the mothers of PS752 who lost their children, and for the children who lost their mothers and fathers. But our wounds are familiar to you. You had an answer to every pain, a panacea for every type of remorse. Tell me! How can we believe this? How can we believe that our daily war with the world will no longer finish up with a tea date at your house? That the hidden rage of all this oppression will not end in long embraces and the warmth of your kindness?
Our dear Niloufar! You brought an end to grudges, to bad hearts. You lit your own lights: the lights that your mother, with her kindness and calm, had kindled in your heart many years before. You knew better than anyone that one burning light is better than a thousand dead ones.
In Tehran, your father taught you to fight for freedom. In the cold, harsh years of war and prison, you and your three children faced the storm. You took your light to Paris. Then to Montreal.
Salmeh is sure that you were calm in those terrible minutes. Salmeh knows that you calmed the hearts of those who were traveling like yourself. Oh, the loneliness of the final minutes… For me, your beautiful life is summed up in those moments. You are standing, smiling. You are embracing, you are giving out calm.
Now, Salmeh calms us down with a smile that I’ve only ever seen before on your beautiful face.
Asiyah speaks to us, and her quiet tone of voice is just like yours.
Salman gives us your kind looks.
Our dear Niloufar, at your final destination, Toronto, you chose love once more. With your light, you gave light to our heavens once more. You became a star that we will carry in our hearts forever.
Writer: Sara Fardhesari
Translator: Arash Azizi
Editor: Hannah Somerville
With the support of iranwire.com