My wife Mahdiyeh became friends with Farideh when they were industrial design and architecture students at Iran University of Science and Technology. After Mahdiyeh and I got married, I became very close with both Farideh and her husband, Razgar. We connected on many levels—a passion for science and love for our families. They were honest, hard-working and kind. All they wanted to do was live a simple, happy life.
Even though I live in Edmonton and they lived in Ontario, we talked and texted every day. When you’re an immigrant in a country like Canada, your friends become your family. Razgar and Farideh were like my brother and sister, and Jiwan, my nephew.
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My wife and I would spend Christmas holidays at Razgar and Farideh’s one-bedroom apartment in Oshawa with other friends—eight adults in a one-bedroom. I laugh when I think about how cramped we were, but thinking back now, I realize it was one of the happiest times in our lives. Back then Razgar was doing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
Jiwan was the cutest child, and I was blessed with the gift of being his godfather. The reason my wife, Mahdiyeh, and I decided to have a child was because of Jiwan—he made us realize that we wanted to be parents. Now we have a one-year-old son.
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It’s hard not to cry every time I think about Jiwan’s smile and how bright he was. He spoke four languages—Farsi, Kurdish and English, and he was beginning to learn French. When Razgar and Farideh found out they were having another son, Jiwan began pretending his stuffed animals were babies; he’d feed them baby bottles. He was excited about being a big brother. On Jan. 8, when Flight 752 went down, Farideh was seven months pregnant with their second child.
Both Razgar and Farideh made a commitment to their parents to visit Iran every single year. I always admired their loyalty to their families. They made a promise, and they never broke it. I find comfort in knowing that, in the days before they passed, they spent time with the ones they love.
Razgar, Farideh, Jiwan and the baby boy we never got to meet: your memory will live through us forever. We miss you so much.
—as told to Christina Gonzales
This as-told-to appears in print in the March 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “’They wanted a simple life.’” On our cover this month, we offer a Farsi expression of condolence to illustrate a collective spirit of national devastation after the downing of Flight 752. Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.