Project Location | Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
Production Date | 2020-04-02

The agony of remembering 

  • (2020 – Grant winner of  The Bob and Diane Fund)

What bothers my father is not forgetting, but instead, it is remembering. Often my 83-year-old father recalls and relives the 1915 invasion of Tabriz by Russia, the death of soldiers and holy fighters of the democratic party in Azerbaijan, the central government killing fathers as their sons bared witness, the snowy days they had to walk from home to the workplace, and lots of other old happenings that always make my father bursts into tears as he remembers them. My father and my aunt are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, a path that my grandfather had taken as well. This disease is hereditary in our family. My father’s present condition may end up being my own in the future.

My father’s situation is deteriorating. He has been getting lost on his way back home for years. often wakes up anxiously midnights and think he’s late for work. He frequently forgets to eat at mealtime and then ends up eating anything he can find.  He forgets that he has prayed, so he repeats his prayers many times. He loses his personal effects often. He utters words the wrong way and often finds himself in a state of bewilderment. Recently, my father has lost his short-term memory, and I’m left to witness everything as it vanishes from his mind little by little. Forgetfulness is rotting his mind and body. It appears that the only thing remaining for my father now is to sit and stare aimlessly at an empty spot.

In Iran, there are over 700 thousand people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and the vast majority of the population were born between the years 1980 to 1983. An abundance of people that are at risk. Alzheimer’s is an immediate problem, according to medical experts. It seems unlikely that our country is going to be able to support and treat this issue at every societal level. Monthly expenses of a person living with Alzheimer’s comes to at least $100, and the majority of people are uninsured. Moreover, the problem has intensified due to stringent economic sanctions.

Among all this misery, there is just my mother and myself. She has always stood with my father through thick and thin, and her calmness and courage have allowed me to discover love, compassion and empathy. For my father and many other fathers in a similar predicament, the toll of this disease is not only the loss of memory but also of the oral history of my country during those turbulent years of suffocation, censorship and humiliation. We have always been at risk of being forgotten. It has become an unlikely theme of Iran’s current history.  If forgetfulness takes over and covers the soul of our culture, and we forget how to love, how to protest, how to be free and we forget the value of cooperation and tolerance, then what will happen to the future of our country?

On Jan 20,2020 my father passed away and left a big hole in my heart.