- Posted March 12, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
LOST: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
LOST: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
For me, someone who travels every week for work, the sudden disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been haunting. I have been following the news on every news site since the moment I learned that there was a plane missing and no one knows what happened to it. I have been reading everything I can find on it, have watched every video and listened to every expert’s opinion that has been interviewed by the media and have cried. I have cried for the ones on the plane, I have cried for their children, for their husbands and wives, for their parents, for their friends and families.
There is a plane missing with 239 people on board. ..239… that’s just a number… until you follow it by ‘people’…. Until you add: two of them were infants…. Until you think about the 12 crew members…. And you start picturing them all in your mind. You start imagining them each leaving home or the hotel rushing to get to the airport, getting their kids ready, saying good bye to their families over the phone, hugging the ones who accompanied them to the airport before going through security. You try to imagine them waiting at the gate, standing silently, talking to one another, eating a sandwich, busy on their phone, trying to control their kids, laughing out loud at something one of the kids said. Some are exhausted from days of work, trying to get home to their families. Some are excited to start their vacation. Some are happy for a break, some can’t wait to see their family again. And you have those who want to cherish every moment of their togetherness with their loved ones and take pictures and videos and post them on facebook and go over them over and over again when they get back.
Then they get called to board the plane, starting with first class. Everyone starts lining up. They walk in one at a time, scan their boarding passes, walk the jet bridge, step into the plane, find their seats, put their carry ons in the overhead bin, sit down, start reading their books and magazines or continue on staring down on their cell phones. Parents struggling to get their kids under control, elderly trying to hurry up so they don’t slow down the boarding process.
Just a normal day for the 12 crew members. Welcoming passengers in, smiling, guiding them to their seats, making sure everyone is boarded. Play the flight safety video, show them how to fasten their seat belts, how to unfasten it, how to use the oxygen mask and to make sure to “put on their own masks first before helping others near them”.
You start imagining all of that and then they add two faces to this extraordinarily ordinary crowd. Two young Iranian men, with stolen passports! And your vision darkens! You think terrorists! You think bombs, knives, violence. You think hijacking, you think ransom. You start feeling angry, you start imagining them staring at the people at the gate, dreaming about all the virgins they have been promised. You see them watching people as rewarding preys, smirking and rubbing their hands together. You picture them get in that line with their backpacks on, scanning their boarding passes, walking into the plane, taking their seats and taking in their surroundings. You picture them looking a little nervous but ultimately happy in their hearts because they are gonna go to heaven in a few short hours after all. In your mind you can just see one of them walking into the bathroom bumping into a guy coming out so he can go in and “prepare” himself, then walk out and shout “Allah o akbar”. You can see it all playing in your head….Just.Like.In.The.Movies!!
I don’t know what happened. No one knows what happened. But hearing the fact that there were two Iranian men on board of that aircraft has shifted the views of many people. The media is “trying” not to jump into any conclusions but all I can think of is “it’s just a matter of time”.
As an Iranian-American I dread the moment when the name of my country is on the news because it is seldom good news. I know how my country is viewed. And I also know that my countrymen are viewed the same as my government in the eyes of many. Maybe that’s why I stopped watching the news a few years ago. Maybe that’s the reason I gave up TV all together about a decade ago, I don’t know. Maybe something unconscious in me was just so sick of hearing it all.
Now let me tell you what I, as an Iranian, see in my mind when I think of those two young men. I see my brother. I see my cousin. I see our neighbor’s kid that I grew up with. I see the boy I was in love with in high school. The one I could never say good bye to when I moved to the states. I see my uncle when he was younger. I see him on the plane that took him to Canada, I see him in the bathroom tearing his passport to shreds, throwing it in the toilet, and flushing it all down. I see him get out of the plane, walk up to the authorities and seek asylum.
What I see is two young men with a dream. Two young lives who risked everything to get what they’ve always dreamed of. They risked not ever getting a hug from their fathers, not ever kissing the faces of their mothers, they risked not ever being able to kiss the hands of their grandmother or grandfather, they risked not ever seeing them and someday hearing about their passing over the phone. They risked not ever seeing their nieces and nephews, to see their birthdays, graduations, weddings. They traded the comfortable warm feeling of home for a foreign country, a foreign language and foreign everything. No, they weren’t dreaming of 70 virgins, they weren’t happy to be going to heaven. All they wanted to have is what millions have and they had only heard about. Maybe they just wanted to practice the religion they believe in and not be banned from going to school or getting a job, maybe they just wanted to not believe in a god and not get executed, maybe they wanted their daughters to grow up where if she didn’t wear a cloth over her head she wouldn’t be lashed and prisoned. Maybe they just wanted to be able to get on Facebook and not get hunted down and interrogated for their posts. Maybe they just wanted to be able to hold their girlfriend’s hand and kiss her on the cheek in public without being put in jail.
All they wanted was something that is so every day, so simple, so ordinary and so given to millions. All they wanted was to be FREE.
I (and if not millions, thousands of Iranians) have friends who held their breaths and were smuggled across different boarders, were scared to death and lived in fear of getting caught for months, to finally get to where they felt safe and free enough to let that breath out. I know families who spent their life savings to get their children to another country where they felt they had a better chance of having happier lives than they did. I know people who spent months and years in other countries’ prisons for getting caught on the border, were sent back to Iran, were beaten and jailed again and as soon as they got out, they started planning their escape again.
This freedom that’s been a birth right to millions of you, this freedom that you probably haven’t even given a moment of thought to (practice of your religion, going to college, your daughter’s hair, Facebook, that kiss…) is something that these two men risked everything for.
When I think about these men now, I can’t help but to think of their families. Their mothers and fathers in their black clothes, mourning their boys and going over the last time that they got to see their faces. The moment they will go over in their head a million times a day for the rest of their lives. Mourning the freedom that they prayed for their boys to finally have every day since the day they said good bye to them. Mourning the wives they’ll never get to have, mourning the children they never got to bring to this world.
That’s what I see when I think of these men. I see my brothers, I see my cousins, I see my uncle….