Yesterday we found out that a good friend of ours, Hooman Mahsa has died. Both Kamyar and I liked Hooman a lot and had known him for many years. I usually don’t cry easily when I hear that someone has died but yesterday as soon as I heard what had happened, I felt my eyes well up.
This news should not have come as a surprise really since Hooman had been battling with cancer for many years but with him being such a fighter, I had always thought he would be the victorious one. Unfortunately I was wrong.
I wasn’t in Iran when Hooman first realised he had cancer. When I went back home that year during Christmas holidays, one day Kamyar, Afshin and I went to pick Hooman up from one of his radiotherapy sessions to take him back to ours. Kamyar and Afshin had both been around all through the time Hooman was nearly dying in the hospital. Kamyar had been on medicine duty apparently and from what I gathered had spent most of his time going back and forth between the hospital and Nasser Khosro (a street where you can find black market medicine in Tehran). I was quite worried about seeing Hooman for the first time after all his troubles and was getting a bit nervous about what to say to him.
As soon as I saw Hooman, the first thing I noticed was that his face was very dark, like he’d been sunbathing, a lot.
After we’d all said our hellos, suddenly everyone went quite. That’s when I realised that I wasn’t the only one that was nervous about what to say to Hooman. It’s hard isn’t it? Exactly what one is supposed to say to a friend who has just come out of a radiotherapy session? ‘Good day at the office?’ ‘Nice day for it, isn’t it?’ ‘I’m having a wisdom tooth removed this week.’
Hooman was looking totally adorable sitting at the back with one of those great big smiles of his. I was desperately trying to think of something to say to break the uncomfortable silence. Then suddenly I remembered his tan and in a moment of total craziness, (due to extreme nervousness) thought to myself, ‘Of course! He’s been skiing’ (yes of course! Why not? In between his radiotherapy sessions! It’s the thing to do apparently!) and ‘maybe I could ask him about that.’
So I turned around to him and said, ‘That’s a very nice tan you’ve got there, mister Hooman.’
With a smile that had gotten even bigger now, he said, ‘Yes, isn’t it? Thanks for noticing Shirin.’ I was feeling so chuffed, I had both broken the silence and said something thoughtful. However this feeling was very short-lived.
Desperately trying to stop himself from bursting out laughing, Hooman continued, ‘That’s one of the things I love about radiotherapy; it gives me such a lovely tan.’ This was where he could control himself no longer and exploded with laughter.
Obviously I felt like a right chump but to look on the bright side, I had succeeded in my mission of breaking the uncomfortable silence ;-) We laughed for the rest of the journey.
When I think of him now, I always see him at our wedding. He looked very happy that night and as usual was full of energy. I never forget the first thing my mum said to Kamyar and I when we arrived at the party that night (fashionably late ;-) ‘Hooman has been the best guest. He was the first person to turn up, he brought lovely flowers and he has been dancing since the moment he got here.’ And he continued to do so for the rest of the night.