Tuesday , 18 February 2020

The Doomed Flight: Homage To A Cousin

Radiofarda – Siavash Ghafouri Azar and his wife, Sara Mamani, were both graduates of Concordia University, Canada. They had traveled to their motherland, Iran, to celebrate their marriage with relatives. They wanted to sprinkle some joy on the cheerless lives in the country and return to the house that they had recently bought in Montreal.
File photo: Victims of Ukranian plane crash in Iran, Siavash Ghafouri-Azar (L) and Sara Mamani.
File photo: Victims of Ukranian plane crash in Iran, Siavash Ghafouri-Azar (L) and Sara Mamani.

They were both passengers on the Ukraine International Airline’s (UIA) doomed flight 752 that was downed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps anti-air missiles in the early morniny, January 8, outside Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport. All 176 on board were killed.
Radio Farda’s Babak Ghaffouri Azar has paid homage to his departed cousin, Siavash.

No, I did not know they were on that ill-fated flight.

During that cursed night and the following morning, we were pursuing the latest developments by the minute. When I received the initial news about the crash, I was dumbfounded. How could they authorize a passenger plane to take off during those sensitive hours? The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had just attacked two U.S. bases in Iraq, and there could be retaliation, any minute.

Deep into the ominous news, my Whatsapp rang. A bad omen. It was 7:00 am, Prague time; more than three hours after the crash. One of my cousins was on the other end.

“You are following the news. Is the flight number of the plane hit over Tehran 752, as they say?” she inquired.

I was not sure.

“Yes, it is; if they said so,” I replied.

She broke into tears.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Siavash and Sara were on that flight…”

And my whole world collapsed.

I was three years older than my beloved cousin, Siavash. Still so close to him.

We had lots of shared memories of our lost childhood and adolescence. Siavash had an ordinary, quiet life. Nevertheless, he was indeed a hard-working person when it came to education and learning.

Far from the clamor of daily life and backbiting, he was focused on his education, believing that through hard-work and following a straight line, he could reach his ideal destination and grab his share of success in life.

Siavash Ghafouri-Azar
Siavash Ghafouri-Azar

Yet, he was not as lucky as expected. Once, he had a chance to go to Austria for higher education. A one-day delay in receiving the entry Austrian entry visa wiped out that prospect.

Siavash was left with no option other than doing his compulsory military service in Iran, as a traffic police officer. Two years of his precious life was wasted with truck drivers haggling over their traffic tickets.

Finally, in an unprecedented move, Lady Luck paved his way to go to Canada and bring his dreams to life.

He became one of the many Iranian youths born in the 1980s, seeking a peaceful life devoid of discrimination, inequality, and unfair restrictions in a faraway foreign land.

Soon, Siavash studied engineering and completed his master’s at Concordia University. There, he met his future wife, Sara Mamani, also a graduate.

Siavash worked as a performance specialist at Pratt & Whitney, an American aerospace manufacturer., and his wife, Sara, worked at the Canadian transportation company, Bombardier.

They bought a house in Montreal. Everything was rosy, heralding a happy life.

They returned to Tehran to share their happiness with the family and celebrate their marriage with their loved ones back home.

I watched the photos and videos of their wedding. Everything had gone peaceful, smooth, and promising. They were marching to their destination, unaware of the tragedy waiting for them and 174 others on the doomed flight.

The night that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps barraged two American bases in Iraq, a colleague of mine curiously checked Flight 24 website to see whether the passenger planes were grounded, or not.

Unbelievably, there were numerous civilian planes flying over Tehran’s gloomy sky.

All of a sudden, Lady Luck disappeared. Joy and happiness faded away. Once again, bad luck was banging on Siavash’s door.

He and Sara were one of at least two pairs of newlyweds onboard.

That was not fair, not fair at all.

  • Babak Ghafoori AzarBabak Ghafoori Azar has joined Radio Farda in 2009 as a journalist. He has reported both on politics and performing arts. He is the producer of Radio Farda’s weekly film program The Scene.
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