Monday , 6 December 2021

Remembering the PS752 Victims: Arash Pourzarabi

Iranwire.com – His wristwatch stopped at 7:14am. Its frame is broken. Like his heart and Pouneh, who died on his shoulder. Pouneh had told him that life doesn’t stop for anyone. But now everything had frozen in a moment. After six minutes in the air, the exchange of kind smiles and lingering looks at one another, their hot fingers touching each other’s hands… it took only a second for their hearts to stop. Their bodies crumpled, their eyes became filled with fear, and then blinked out of life. They had sought each other’s arms and embraced.

Count one… Count two… Count nineteen. What did they go through, from the nineteenth second through to second twenty-something? Like fritillaries, those upside-down lilies, they lowered their heads, and they headed for the dust. He was like the heroic ancient Persian archer, Arash, but he died before taking his last shot. The magical sound of the flute filled his ears in his last moments. His loving heart would forever miss his beloved. Oh, so in love with your hair, so drunk on your scent… 

He was born in Tehran on November 19, 1993. The family lived in Rasht until he was two and a half years old. Then, they came back to Tehran. As a kid he was a smooth talker who liked the sound of his own voice. He loved his mother too much to concede going to kindergarten. His school years, from pre-school to Alame Tabatabai High School, were filled with happiness, handwork and remarkable stamina. Many people fell for him. During his high school years he was a regular in Olympiad classes due to his love of computers. He passed three rounds of exams and wasn’t done with the third year of high school when he made it to the special classes of the Young Students Club. In the national Computer Olympiad he won silver. Then came the pre-university and national university entrance examinations. 

In the class of 2012 at Tehran’s Sharif University, Arash Pourzarabi was a tall and good-looking young man who always attended computer classes. Over the course of about a year he had fallen for a young woman with red sneakers. He had seen her for the first time on the day of the Olympiad exams; not many people had made the grade so he remembered her well, with her happy face and Converse All-Stars. At Sharif, he spotted her again. His heart dropped and beat fast. His face reddened. His lips were red. His palms sweated. He went ahead and met her eye: eyes that betrayed a mutual attraction.

“I had a pair of red Converse on on the day of the exam? I don’t remember at all!”

“But you surely remember owning them?”

“Sure.” 

“And me? Do you remember me?”

“No. But I heard your name from the teachers.”

“Thank god we had the same teachers. They were finally good for something.” 

They both laughed. 

That summer, they got closer. Their first date took place on a cold day in the Iranian calendar month of Bahman, at a restaurant called Joe. After that, the Vesal Roundabout became the epicenter of their love, then walking and cafe-hopping with Mr Ghafari, Pouneh’s former teacher. 

Arash tutored other students in his free time and engaged in all sorts of extracurricular activities. After two years in his BA program, he had learned enough to find employment at a specialist company called Bayan. In 2017, Arash and Pouneh finally both enrolled on MA programs at Canada’s University of Alberta, with full scholarships.

The warmth of their love would melt all the cold and the difficulties of this new land. They’d live together, study together, build a tomorrow together. Artificial intelligence and technological innovation were among both of their favorite fields. But they also loved listening to Reza Yazdani together, watching Game of Thrones together, hanging out with their friends together.

“Hey, what’s up? What’s happening?”

“Was video-chatting with Ali. Sent him a few links about that new car system… talked to Mom and them too. They’re alright. What are you up to? 

“All good. I found that Lana Del Rey album you asked about.”

“Really? Thanks! I’ll get you a box of pasta.” 

“Honey… tonight we have to go to Tina and Amir’s. Don’t forget.” 

“Of course not. I’ll go straight from work. You don’t forget our weekend plans. Lighten your university load!” 

“Sure thing. Until tonight!”

“Love you.”

“You too.”

The weekend came. They were approaching Edmonton. Arash’s heart was beating fast. He stopped the rental car on the side of the road and tried to keep his cool under Pouneh’s questioning gaze. He had always been good at handling sensitive situations; so much so that they sometimes called him ‘Father’ as a joke. Could he ace this one too?

His sweaty hands brought out the rings. Two simple rings that would make their tie eternal. Pouneh screamed. She jumped at him and hugged him. She was astounded. They decided to go to Iran for the Christmas holidays and celebrate their commitment with family and friends. They went to the notary office with just a few daffodils, and got married there. With a beautiful bouquet of flowers held by the bride, and a little boutonniere in the groom’s jacket pocket, they went to their wedding and welcomed the guests. They celebrated the beginning of their shared life together with friends and relatives. With everybody around them, they danced and sang.

The next Wednesday they got back on the plane, with all their loved ones wishing them the best and praying for them. They were going home. Alas, the air was full of poison. These flowers weren’t sent to the greenhouse of love; they were both brutally destroyed. All that remains of them is ashes. 

Tomorrow, the sun will go down. Dreams will be buried. The album with the wedding pictures will be sad. The grandmother has to mourn her beautiful daughter-in-law instead of singing wedding songs. Unbelieving eyes will forever cry blood. 

But in the graduation ceremony of the U of A, Arash and Pooneh, together with Elnaz and Nasim, are the only graduates who have become one big beautiful bouquet of flowers. Their memory brings tears to eyes; their love brings smiles to faces. 

Translated by: Arash Azizi
Edited by: Hannah Somerville

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