The coronavirus pandemic: a crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. It has changed everything in my environment from my father’s face to my city. The garden next door is like a cemetery. Micro or macro many things have changed taking on new meanings. In February 2020, Iran reported its first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The coronavirus has spread quickly to other cities. My city, Mazandеran, has become one of the most dangerous areas, a virus red zone. As a photographer with many concerns, I was confronted by strange and unexpected moments, decisive and indecisive moments like in a transitional state. It feels like a tunnel in a transition between life before the coronavirus and after it. Facing our mortality prompts us to reevaluate our lives; I see a reevaluation of life in my environment. The pandemic has forced a reevaluation of life in detail. I started taking photos in my house to record my family; then I saw the risk and decided to leave.
Inside living cells
Series, 2nd place
This is first day of Nowruz (the New Year), Bahram is wearing a mask at home and watching his grandson, Bardia, who pasted his toy to the window. To follow social distancing guidelines, Bardia wants his grandfather to kiss his toy from the other side of the window for him. According to the World Health Organization, grandparents should remain at a distance from their grandchildren. Under these conditions he might have Bahram quarantined himself and use a mask even at home. He felt shortness of breath and sometimes coughed. He said, it was the strangest Nowruz (new year) of his life, even stranger than Nowruz during the war. We arranged my son’s wedding during Nowruz, but now we are keeping away from each other and wearing masks and thinking about the value of life. I miss my grandchildren, and I would like to see them even through a window, he said.
A view from our court during the coronavirus quarantine. In the corner with slippers and disinfectants. When someone comes inside, they have to remove their shoes and put on clean slipper and wipe their hands with disinfectant. Eucalyptus leaves are used for eliminating shortness of breath. My uncle picked eucalyptus leaves from the nearby plain, and put them behind the door. I was walking in the yard by myself and thinking about the effects of the coronavirus on our lives. It even changed our corner of the court. So, in a sense, I am not alone the effect is with me in the corner.
Volunteer women at the mosque, sewing. Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the shortage of medical equipment, for example, masks and covers, has made the situation worse. Somayeh Ahani, the supervisor of the women, suffers from Fibromyalgia. One of the seamstresses said that during the war they used to gather at the mosque to help people, and this pandemic situation is similar to that (the war period).
Mashti Karim is a 66 year-old vendor who sells potatoes and fruits on the sidewalk. Due to the virus many jobs have faded away.Karim talks about his job: he says he earns less money since the virus. It seems that people do not eat fruit. Maybe they think our fruit is infected with the virus. I take the risk and come out to earn money for my family, but nobody buys. I stay here beside my car without selling anything. I go around the street and collect grass for my cow and my neighbor’s cows. I keep myself busy and work for the cows; time passes faster, and I do not think about the coronavirus.
Because of the spreading coronavirus and the rising fatality rate in Rostamkola and the Gorjimahalle villages in April, the authorities decided to put some restrictions on the major roads, especially roads to cemeteries. Road entrances were blocked, and commuting was limited. Every day I use this route to go to the gym, but today it was blocked. So I took the opportunity to look at the trees along the road and think about people who have died.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Roghayeh and her family are in quarantine for about a month. She has suffered from a few chronic diseases and also experienced a heart attack. She started baking bread at home after 18 years. It makes her feel content, and she starts dancing. She says: I’m worried about my children rather than myself and they are worried about me, but I try to keep my spirits up.
This was the 7th day of the ritual for Rezvan Hashemi, 54 year-old women. She died from the virus, and she had respiratory disease. Rezvan was hospitalized in the ICU at Khatam for one month. After a long course of the disease she died in the hospital. Her husband and her family were in the 7th day of the ritual for the dead (a ritual held a week after the death of a person). At the end of the ritual when people left the cemetery, her husband went near the grave and said “now, it is my turn” and started crying; his son-in-low hugged him.
My 36 years old brother, Borzoo, was doing a bodybuilding course when the coronavirus pandemic started. He continued his exercises at home during the quarantine. During the first days, because of cold weather, he exercised inside the house, but after a while when the weather got warmer (during the spring) he continued to exercise in the garden. There is a garden next to his house and they played in that garden when they were young. He said that doing the exercise in the courtyard was strange because it was hard to believe that my bodybuilding equipment in a garden not in a gym. I see the quarantine as an opportunity, but honestly, I think I have no choice.
Hossein Droudy, 17, is waiting for the body of someone who died because of the coronavirus. He is a religion student. After the death of his grandfather, who was also a mullah, he started taking care of his responsibilities (funeral related duties) at Behshahr Cemetery. Although the coronavirus has raised the fatality rate over the past few weeks, he was the only mullah who worked in cemetery for months. He said at first he was frightened but thinking about the martyrs who went to war calmed him down. They must have been afraid to go and were worried about their families, but they went to war anyway.
Niloofar, 29, is a doctor. She is standing in our alley because of my birthday. She is celebrating my birthday during the quarantine. She volunteered to help during heavy outbreaks. After working in the medical center and helping coronavirus patients she goes to people’s homes just to help them. She brings me a little cake and a gift while social distancing. She said even these stressful days cannot make me forget your birthday.
Yazdan Mortazavi’s family and relatives at the washing house for a last visit. Yazdan Mortazavi, 53, passed away from the virus infection in the hospital. Yazdan and his daughter were hospitalized with the virus. The doctor told Yazdan’s wife to take their daughter home, because Yazdan was too worried about her, and his body was getting weaker. After his wife took his daughter home, Yazdan passed away in the hospital. When they entered the washing place, the mother said he loved his children and he always laughed with them. I must keep my children happy now. I will live with his memories. How can I continue without him?
My brother‘s wife (in center) with a cake she bought for me. It is my birthday during the pandemic and social distancing. After months, my brother and his family went into our yard for my birthday.
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