Soroush Farazmand — The Yellow Dogs (set) on Flickr.
This is one of the best photos I have ever taken.
To know the history of this musician is to understand how much it impacts me. This is Soroush Farazmand, of the band The Yellow Dogs. When I took this image nearly 1 year ago, I did not know his name. I knew other things, like his arrests in Iran for simply playing music, of his band: The Yellow Dogs, and of their asylum in the United States, where they came to be free musicians. But I did not know his name. Today, I learned Soroush’s name. The name of the man in one of my favourite pictures. The name of the man who I regularly recall when I tell friends and strangers of one of my most magical nights as a photographer, as a lover of music, of perhaps the best concert I have ever been to. Today, I learned his name.
Because today he was murdered.
I cannot tell you of the sickness that filed my heart when my friend’s text light up my phone this morning.
“Dude, the Yellow Dogs… Did you hear?”
Before even lifting the phone, a pit hit my stomach. Google displayed the words. Three members of The Yellow Dogs were dead. Murdered.
It was Veterans’ Day, and cheers continued out my window. A parade had been marching proudly down 5th Avenue. We had been watching from our office, a completely different vibe just a few minutes earlier. My coworkers, unaware of this news, continued their glances to the street.
When I initially planned on expressing these words tonight, I envisioned some grand article, speaking of the tragic opression that still continues in Iran, of Soroush’s escape, and this great movie, “No one knows of Persian Cats” that made me aware of them in the first place (it’s on Netflix). Throughout the day, I refreshed the news, thankfully learning that not 3, but only 2 band members had died. I learned that Koorey, a singer I had taken a portrait of, and talked to, had not died. I had watched videos, and looked at countless pictures and captions, trying to come to terms, and to address who had died. Wanting none dead, but desperately hoping it was not the dude whose photograph I was so proud of.
But it was him.
I have no right to pretend to know these guys, and so no right to link their loss to any greater Iranian cause, or tragic circumstance. All I have is a connection from a photograph, one moment caught in time. It is a moment I have looked over repeatedly throughout the year, slowly coming to recognize as an almost familiar person.
So I’m not sure how this should end, or how to explain this strange grief. I know only that it is grief. It is regret. Like any person we do know, when they leave us, we regret the time we never made for them.
I had some day hoped to meet them again, to give them my photos, perhaps to make some more. Now, I’m left morning.
How do you grieve for a person you’ve never even met?