Ali Hamidi says cleaning out Masoumeh Ghavi’s apartment in Halifax is a duty to both her and her surviving family.
“I feel like it is my responsibility to take care of this. It’s the minimum I could do,” he said.
Masoumeh Ghavi and her sister, Mahdieh, died two weeks ago when Iranian forces shot down Ukraine International Flight 752 as it left Tehran.
Fifty-seven Canadians were killed — revised down from an earlier estimate of 63 — plus dozens of students travelling to Canada to study.
Masoumeh had been studying engineering at Dalhousie University since August.
In her apartment on Queen Street, the apples in the refrigerator were still fresh.
“I still am shocked. I can’t believe she’s gone. I was texting with her right before takeoff. She was giving me the time that she would get here, so I could pick her up. It’s really hard,” Hamidi said.
He’s been close with Ghavi’s father for 20 years.
She was working part time for his technology company while she studied.
Her younger sister, Mahdieh, was travelling to Halifax for the first time, also to study.
Masoumeh bought a new toaster and kettle for their apartment, which were still in the box as Hamidi packed them up.
This process of packing up is being repeated in homes across the country.
“Everybody who knows… anybody who has been in this tragic accident, you feel pretty much the same. They all are in pain,” Hamidi said.
One of the men helping Hamidi empty the apartment broke down weeping as he watched two others dismantle Masoumeh’s bedframe.
Mohamed Barzeghar has a picture on his phone of Masoumeh standing by a Christmas tree at the Halifax airport. He took it when he dropped her off for her flight to Iran.
The men used a dolly to move boxes and furniture to load a white pickup truck parked in the frigid cold.
Hamidi said he’ll keep Masoumeh’s belongings in storage for now because he can’t bear to ask her parents and brother for further guidance.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t have the courage to talk about this stuff [with them]. I just asked them, ‘I could take care of those?’ and I’m just doing it,” he said.
Hamidi said the family may come to Halifax.
He said it’s vital that a tragedy like the shooting down of a civilian airliner never happens again.
“How can we guys do something in a different way to stop such disasters … That’s the question,” he said.