On the evening of August 14, 2018, Asma, a 24-year-old Iranian athlete from Bushehr, an archery champion and a member of Iran’s national softball team, while crossing a highway without a footbridge on her way back home from preparation training for archery competitions, was hit by two cars and fell into a coma. Finally, after 5 days, she was confirmed as brain-dead and her organs were donated. Now, more than a year after Asma’s death, a footbridge has been built at the accident scene.
Text and Photos by Sarvenaz Rafieepour/Podium Mentor Program about the Asma Story


I had known Asma for a few years. We were competitors in the field and during matches. She was a member of the Bushehr softball team and one of the best members while I played for the Tehran team. We had only one serious competitor and the most difficult part of our softball leagues for us was defeating this one team which was the Bushehr team. She was 24 years old, from Bushehr, she knew well how to be an athlete. She was beautiful, welcoming, and warmhearted and never cared about which team you came from, she made friends with everyone. She was one of those people who caught eyes on herself and you couldn’t help smiling at her face. I only met her during matches and national team camps. She lived in Bushehr and rarely visited Tehran but thanks to social media we were in touch. I knew that she had started playing archery and was practicing hard for the championship. She was successful in this sport too and kept publishing her success on her Instagram page. I know well the difficulties and obstacles of professional sport for girls in Iran, hence I felt proud of her diligence. The sport itself seeded the most important thing for her. She was from a middle-class family and had lost her father in an accident when she was a child. She had a mother and a younger sister. She never got tired of practicing, studying, and working simultaneously. Although we were never close friends, I could understand Asma thoroughly, because we were similar inside and I had had the same experiences. You know when everything seems to be perfect, a fear appears in your mind, a fear of a disaster. It was a late night in August, the news came to us like a hurricane. Everything was perfect, but a footbridge over the highway ruined everything, a highway that was Asma’s one and the only way to reach home. Several lethal car crashes had happened on that highway. Residents of the neighborhood had requested thousands of times for a crossover bridge over the highway, but still, there was not a bridge there.

That night, returning from her archery practice, Asma had an accident with two cars simultaneously that sent her into an irreversible coma. Two weeks before that day she had her 24th birthday and she became a 24-year-old lawyer and champion. Hearing the news, we, softball players, could not go to sleep that night, we were waiting for good news, news that tells us about Asma getting better. But we never received such good news. She was in a coma for five days, and we, softball players, had become a family praying for one thing. At last, the news was there, Asma had gone. That was a sad day. Some of Asma’s organs were donated with her family’s consent.

I remember after her death we decided to gather in front of Azadi Sport Complex and in memory of her, but we were not allowed, any gathering was forbidden. No ceremony, no memorial! Bushehr Softball council held a memorial league for Asma, and they promised to repeat it every year.

During all these days I knew that I have to do something, to let everyone know that Asma had not finished, that every one of us could be Asma, Asma could accompany us in future camps, she could fall in love and become a mother. I will never forget those days in Bushehr. I went there for the memorial matches along with the Tehran team. I found Asma everywhere, in the bus, at the station, at the dormitory. When her team won the league, her mother gave us our medallions. It was the first time I was feeling happy to lose in a match because I believed that all of us are one body. Asma’s teammates played really strong, Asma could have been there and celebrate the victory.


One of the players of the Teyf team in the stadium where Asma memorial competitions are held.


Those few days, I played the matches, and at the same time, I kept shooting photos. I remember even during team changing time, those few seconds, I ran from defending line to forward line in order to shoot some frames. Nobody knew the reason for my shooting. They had used to see me with my camera everywhere. To complete my story of Asma I needed to talk to her mom and ask her permission for photography at their home. I knew that they were having hard times. I was helpless, it had been always difficult for me to talk to people who had just lost a beloved one. I had no idea what to say to be soothing. The word “condolences” seemed meaningless and useless.

I decided to fight for it and make everyone accept and agree. I was afraid to call her directly, therefore; I asked Elham, Asma’s close friend and teammate, for help. Elham was like a daughter to Asma’s mom. Finally, Asma’s mom accepted. Now I had to shoot those who had received Asma’s organs, I had to find them. It was close to Asma’s death anniversary. I had to move. Thanks to Elham, I had permission to meet Asma’s mom. I spent one hour with her, during which she kept herself busy with housework. She knew the reason for my presence. We talked about everything but Asma. Meeting her, I came to understand that how difficult is to forgive. You could see the anger she had towards negligence and inefficiency in her eyes. I had bought her a colorful scarf. She was still wearing black. I asked her to pout it on if she likes it.

Elham and I went everywhere: Asma’s workplace, university, her favorite beach where she had used to walk on with Elham, and the hospital. The head of the Medical University of Bushehr arranged my visit to Asma’s room at the hospital, the room where she had her last breathes. Elham had accompanied me everywhere then, but at that moment she hesitated to enter that room. I did not know what to do, should I go there by myself and shoot, or should I stay with this heartbroken girl. She asked me to go and take my photographs, she believed that it was important. When we finished and were going back, Asma’s mom called Elham and said Sarvenaz could take photos of Asma’s stuff, if she liked. I went there alone. She showed me Asma’s archery that she had but just before her death. She said: “no one has touched it, since her death, open it yourself, and please put it back when you’re done!” her equipment from her last practice was still in the box, untouched, even her used tissues. I cannot remember how long I spent there; I had lost the sense of time.


anniversary of Asma’s death, on her grave which was held in Mangal village of Khormuj city, on August 13, 2019.


The next day was the anniversary ceremony. It was held at Asma’s mom’s birth village, called Khoormaj. It was two hours away from Bushehr by car. In the afternoon, Elham and I left Bushehr and reached a village, called Mangal, where Asma’s grandparents lived. Everybody was there, preparing for the ceremony. The mom’s behavior was not anymore cold and she introduced me to others. I noticed a shelf in a corner of the grandparents’ home. There were four framed photos on it: portraits of Asma, her father, and her uncles, all of them had been killed in car crashes. I thought maybe it was genetic like cancer. I was feeling uncomfortable to start shooting, I was worried that it might be considered rude or cruel. Asma’s mom noticed and asked, “why don’t you shoot?” I thought “I’m here to commemorate Asma, to keep her alive.” And I took that photo.

Someone announced that there are two gusts, one from Shiraz, the other from Borazjan, two guys who had received Asma’s Organs. They’re supposed to be the third one, however, he couldn’t make it due to his illness. I knew that this visit must be really tough for Asma’s mom. She had told several times before, that she did not like to meet them. They approached her and introduced themselves. Remembering the moment is still astonishing for me. For sure I cannot empathize with Asma’s mom. How could it feel to meet someone who is carrying and organ of your deceased daughter?

It took me a long to be able to check and see my photos of that trip to Bushehr. It seems that I had overestimated my strength. However, the only thing that made me complete the project was the confidence I had about the correctness of the way I had taken.

Persian Gulf view from Boushehr seaport.

اسما رو چند سالی بود که میشناختم با هم رقیب بودیم تو زمین بازی و مسابقات. اون بازیکن تیم سافتبال بوشهر بود و از بهتریناشون و من تو تیم تهران. تیم ما همیشه فقط یک رقیب داشت و قسمت سخت مسابقات قهرمانی و لیگ های سافتبال برامون بردن تیم بوشهر بود
دختر24 ساله بوشهری که ورزشکار بودن رو خوب بلد بود. زیبا و خوشرو و خونگرم که براش فرق نداشت کی از کدوم تیمه و با همه دوستی و رفاقت داشت. از اون دخترایی که نگاهت روش میخکوب میشد و بادیدنش ناخودآگاه خنده روی لبات میومد. فقط وقت مسابقات و اردوهای ملی میدیدمش. خوب اون اهل بوشهر بود و تو تهران کاری نداشت ولی به لطف فضای مجازی ازهم با خبر بودیم. میدونستم تیر و کمان رو شروع کرده و سخت مشغول تمرین برای قهرمانی بود. خیلی تو این رشته موفق بود و هر روز پیشرفتش رو تو صفحه اینستاگرامش منتشر می کرد. فیلمهای تمرینش رو و با اون لهجه شیرین بوشهریش میگرفت. سختی های راه ومحدودیت های فضای ورزش حرفه ای در ایران برای دخترا رو خوب میشناسم، برای همین به پشتکارش تو مسیر قهرمانی افتخار میکردم. از ورزش حرفه ای براش خود ورزش مهم تر از همه چیز بود. از یه خانواده متوسط بود و تو بچه گی پدرش رو تو تصادف رانندگی از دست داد. مونده بود براش مادرش و یک خواهر کوچیکتر.ورزش و درس خوندن و کار همزمان بدون داشتن حمایت پدر که برای دخترا بزرگترین دلگرمی و پشتوانه هست، خستش نمی کرد. با اینکه هیچ وقت دوست صمیمی نشدیم ولی دلیل نداشت که نتونم اسما رو درک کنم، چون از جنس هم بودیم و راهی که داشت میرفت رو من تجربه کرده بودم. دیدین همیشه وقتی همه چی داره خوب پیش میره، همش ته دلت میترسی که همه چی خراب بشه! یه شب آخرای مرداد بود خبر تصادفش مثل یک پتک خرد تو سرمون. همه چی داشت براش خوب پیش میرفت ولی یه پل عابر باعث شد که همه چیز خراب بشه.پل عابری که تنها راه دسترسی به شهرک مسکونی محل زندگی اسما بود. اون اتوبان تلفات جانی زیادی داشت اهالی اون شهرک بارها پیگیری کرده بودن برای بودن این پل ولی خب این پل همچنان نبود. اونشب اسما از تمرین تیر کمان برمیگشت سمت خونه که همزمان با دو ماشین تصادف کرد و رفت تو کما. دو هفته پیشش تولدش بود و شده بود یه خانم وکیل 24 ساله قهرمان. خبر دار که شدیم تا صبح هیچ کدوم از ما سافتبالی ها نخوابیدیم همش منتظر یه خبر خوب که بگن اسما داره بهتر میشه ولی این خبر خوب رو بهمون کسی نداد پنج روزی که تو کما بود همینطوری گذشت وما بازیکنان سافتبال ایران یک خانواده شده بودیم و با هم برای یک چیز دعا می کردیم. اما خبر رسید که، اسما رفت! خب اون روزا خیلی تلخ گذشت. بعضی از اعضای بدن اسما با رضایت خانواده اش اهدا شد


Elham, Asma’s best friend in their favorite pavilion located on the beach of Bushehr seaport.

!یادمه همه بچه های تیم تهران خواستیم دم مجموعه ورزشی آزادی جمع شیم و براش یادبود برگزار کنیم که گفتن تجمع ممنوع! و نه مراسمی و نه یادبودی
دستشون درد نکنه هیئت سافتبال بوشهر لیگ یادبود اسما رو برگزار کرد و قرار شد همه ساله این لیگ برقرار باشه. همه این مدت میدونستم که یه کار نکرده دارم برای اینکه به همه بگم رفتن اسما مرگ نبوده اسما میتونست هر کدوم از ما باشه و تو اردوهای بعدی باهامون همراه باشه. می تونست عاشق بشه، مادر بشه! هیچ وقت یادم نمیره زمانیکه با بچه های تیم تهران رفتیم برای مسابقات یادبود اسما به بوشهر. اسما رو همه جا پیدا کردم تو ترمینال ، تو اتوبوس، تو خوابگاه. وقتی که تیمش قهرمان شد و مادرش مدال هامون رو داد.این اولین باری بود که از قهرمانی تیم رقیب خوشحال بودم چون دیگه باور داشتم همه ما یکی هستیم. تواون لیگ و چند روز مسابقه هم بازی می کردم هم عکاسی، یادمه همون چند ثانیه بین تایم تعویض تیم از دفاع به حمله می دویدم و چند فریمی عکس میگرفتم. کسی نمیدونست برای چی دارم عکاسی میکنم خب عادت داشتن دوربین دستم ببینن حال و هوای اون لیگ فرق داشت. همه به احترام اسما با غیرت بازی کردند و اسما می تونست باشه و با تیمش قهرمانی رو جشن بگیره. برای داستان اسما نیاز بود با مادرش صحبت کنم و اجازه عکاسی در خانه اسما رو بگیرم. میدونستم تو شرایط خوبی نیستن مستاصل بودم همیشه برام سخت بود صحبت کردن با کسی که عزیزش رو از دست داده نمیدونستم چی باید می گفتم که کمی دلش آروم بگیره و تسلیت این واژه بدرد نخور هیچ وقت تلفظش برام آسون نبود. تصمیم گرفتم بجنگم براش تا بتونم همه رو متقاعد کنم. جرات نداشتم به خودشون زنگ بزنم از الهام دوست صمیمی اسما که هم تیمی اسما هم بود کمک گرفتم . الهام برای مادر اسما مثل دخترش بود. مادر اسما راضی شد و من برای داستانم باید از افرادی که پیوند عضو داشتند عکاسی میکردم و باید پیداشون میکردم . چیزی نمونده بود به سالگرد اسما تصمیم گرفتم راه بیفتم و برم. مجوز دیدار با مادر اسما بلطف الهام جور شد. یه ساعتی که پیشش بودیم خودش رو مشغول کارهای خونه کرد میدونست برای چی اونجام و از همه چی حرف زدیم غیر از اسما.با دینش تازه فهمیدم بخشش چقدر میتونسته براش کار بزرگی باشه مادری که هنوز خشم سهل انگاری و بی کفایتی رو میتونستی به راحتی تو چشم هاش ببینی. براش یه شال رنگی بردم هنوز سیاه تنش بود و ازش خواستم اگه دلش راضیه این شال رو سرش کنه.همه جا رفتیم. محل کار اسما، دانشگاهش، آلاچیق کنارساحل که همیشه با الهام میرفتن و بیمارستان. رییس دانشگاه علوم پزشکی بوشهر هماهنگ کرد برم از اتاقی که اسما آخرین نفس هاشو کشید عکس بگیرم. الهام همه این راه رو همرام بود ولی دم اون اتاق پاهاش سست شد و من نمیدونستم برم عکس روبگیرم یا پیش الهام بمونم. بهم گفت تو برو چون مهمه. تو راه برگشت بودیم که مادر اسما زنگ زد گفت به سروناز بگو بیاد اگر میخواد از وسایل اسما عکس بگیره. تنهایی رفتم و تیرکمانش رو که تازه خریده بود رو نشونم داد و گفت: از روز تصادف دیگه کسی بازش نکرده خودت بازش کن کارت که تموم شه جمعش کن وسایل اخرین باری که رفته بود تمرین هنوز دست نخورده تو جعبه تیر کمانش بود حتی دستمال کاغذی های مچاله شدش زمان از دستم در رفت چون اسما برام غریبه نبود. فرداش سالگرد اسما بود و باید میرفتیم روستای محل تولد مادرش تو شهرستان خورمج. دو ساعتی با بوشهر فاصله داشت طرفهای بعد ظهر با الهام راه افتادیم رسیدیم روستای منقل خونه پدربزرگ اسما همه بودن و داشتن آماده میشدن برای مراسم دیگه از اون سردی تو رفتار مادر اسما خبری نبود و من رو به همه معرفی میکرد. یه گوشه از خونه پدربزرگ اسما اون طاقچه رو دیدم با چهار قاب عکس اسما ، پدرش ، و دایی هاش هر چهار نفر تو تصادف رانندگی از دنیا رفته بودن شاید این بلای مسری مثل سرطان، ژنتیکی بود. برای من سخت بود عکاسی از آدمی که میدونستم نسبت آدمهای تو اون قاب عکس ها رو باهاش. مادرش با نگاهش منو دنبال میکرد طاقت نیاورد، بهم گفت چرا عکس نمیگیری !نمیخواستم عکسی بگیرم تا مرحمی برای زخم مادرش باشم ولی من دلیل کوچکی بودم برای زنده نگاه داشتن اسما. خبردادن که مهمان داریم! دو نفر مهمان، دو عضو ! یکی از برارجان، یکی از شیراز و یک نفر هم بخاطر ضعف جسمانی نیامده. میدونستم برای مادر اسما خیلی سخته. چند بار شنیده بودم که نمیخواد ببینتشون! خودشون رو به مادر اسما معرفی کردن. یادآوری لحظه دیدارشون هنوز برام حیرت انگیزه. قطعا نمیتونم درک کنم حس مادر اسما رو در مواجه با کسانی که تکه ای از دخترش رو به یادگار بردند. از بوشهر و مراسم اسما که برگشتم تا چند وقت نتونستم بشینم عکس ها رو نگاه کنم. همیشه فکر میکردم دختر قوی ای هستم و از پس همه چی می تونم بربیام ولی تنها چیزی که تونست بهم کمک کنه کارم رو تموم کنم، همون اطمینانی بود که به درست بودن راهم داشتم

مجموعه عکس اسما را اینجا ببینید

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