Mohammad Behrouzinejad lives in Birjand, 450 kilometers away from the shrine city of Mashhad where the eight Shiah Imam is buried. Now it’s for years that he goes on a pilgrimage to this city on foot, a pilgrimage that takes him ten days. He has to walk across plains and mountains before arriving in Mashhad. For him, traveling all alone gives him an opportunity to remember God more than ever and deliberate on serious issues like life and death, past and future. On this long journey, he meets several people from Red Crescent staff to a shepherd alone in the desert. They all treat Mohammad as they know he is a pilgrim to the holy city of Mashhad.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
SOUNDBITE [Persian], Mohammad Behrouzi Nezhad: “They say at the time of death the forehead gets sweaty. They call it the sweat of death. We all have heard about it. They say that we see all moments of our life, our marriage, our work, like a movie before our eyes. They all say goodbye to you; your wife, your children, your home, your car. The only thing that remains with you is your deeds. The moment you understand this, beads of sweat appear on your forehead.
- If you sleep here, are you sure there won’t be any problem for you?
- No, I sleep in the park. Turn around. No anyway ... I think it’s not right to cause trouble for anyone. Sometimes something is obligatory; one says, “OK, it’s obligatory.” Oh, it’s locked. He’s not home. He must have gone to somewhere outside city.
- Are they reconstructing here?
- No, they’re leaving here.
I don’t know, maybe he has changed it. Let’s go to the boulevard to see if he’s still here.
- Stop here, Mr. Zafari.
- This first home?
- Yes, this three-story one.
- Yes, inside this alley.
- Unfortunately they’re not here, they must be away.
- Mr. Zafari. Open the door. The intercom is not working.
- What’s going on here? It’s not working. Have it fixed.
- How are you?
- Open the door! How should I come on in?!
- Why don’t you live on the first floor? It’s much better. You’re living on a tower.
- You should have left your backpack downstairs.
- They said that it should be on your back. What’s up?
- You have locked up the first floor home.
- Hello, ma’am, how are you? How is your father?
- Sorry that I just dropped in.
- Mr. Jafari, my brother.
- Ms. Jafari, her wife.
- What’s up?
- Why have you come here? It’s not good for your feet.
- What If there was a lift!”
SOUNDBITE [Persian], Mohammad Behrouzi Nezhad: “In the name of God, God is the greatest, God is the greatest. Dear Mr. Jafari, thank you very much.”
TIME CODE: 05:00 _ 10:00
SOUNDBITE [Persian], Mohammad Behrouzi Nezhad: “God is the greatest. Thank you very much. I have you in my mind. Walking is the tradition of our prophet and Imams. It is said that Imam Hussein went on a pilgrimage from Najaf to Karbala 40 times. This is in our tradition and we who are the followers of Imams … In my life what I have understood is only these years that I have walked. Only during these years I have understood the joy of life. I enjoy it very much, especially when I’m all by myself, when I’m not in the commotion of the cities. But when I walk alone on the road it’s very joyous. Calmness.
I’ll die in your way Imam Reza. I won’t die unless you put your foot on my head. Hello, Am I allowed to come in and rest for half an hour? How are you? God bless you! I’m an honorary member of the Red Crescent myself. Last week, Mr. Arefzadeh coordinated that. They sent a letter and told me to stop at the Red Crescent stations on the way.
- You’re very welcome!
- Thank you very much!
Do you know Mr. Khaleghi who is in charge of the Red Crescent station in Khonik defile? I told him that it’s a good cause.
Thank you very much.
Only the first year I came with a team.”
TIME CODE: 10:00 _ 15:00
SOUNDBITE [Persian], Mohammad Behrouzi Nezhad: “its 14 or 15 years since I’ve been either with one company or alone. Please, after you. Thank you very much for you kindness.
- You’re welcome!
- Please pray for us.
Sure, I will remember you and please you also remember me too.
I have already washed them but I wash them again to be sure they’re clean. I have already washed them. I wash them with earth. Our Imams say that earth cleans everything. I should pour two or three spoon of oil in it ... Then Onion... Then curd.”
TIME CODE: 15:00 _20:00
SOUNDBITE [Persian], Mohammad Behrouzi Nezhad: “Thank God you’re here.
My fellow, curd and oil, these are clean. Do you want me to bring a knife for the onion?
I have seen miracles. We are born with bad deeds and we hurt each other. We deceit one another…
And we bury the soul which we’ve been blessed with under tons of dust and mud.
- We make these curds ourselves. They’re our souvenir.
- You make yogurt and flour, don’t you?
- Do you have any seasoning?
-Yes, I have red pepper; I put it inside that curd.
I have some saffron in my backpack. There’s no need for red pepper.
You know my feet have been blistered and they ache.
- I don’t think you can walk alone all this way at this age …
- It depends on how we spend the time when we’re alone. The best thing we can do while we’re alone is to think about God.
It means that we should consider that we’ve been created by God in solitude and we were alone at first and there was no one else. And in the end we will leave this world alone again.
-Sometimes I pray till morning. I think I have not prayed enough when I was young and now I’m making up for that time. I say my prayers even on behalf of my father who has passed away. Maybe my older brother has forgotten to say his prayers for him… I pray for my father…
- Very good, very good!
- I think it’s ready.
In the name of God the most Compassionate, the most Merciful.
- Please help yourself. They say the guest is God’s friend.
- But I’m sorry that I can’t treat you better in the middle of this desert.
Maybe it’s not enough for them.
- I prefer my yellow curd to turkey and rice.
- I eat and thank God. We should be thankful.”
TIME CODE: 20:00_28:38
SOUNDBITE [Persian], Mohammad Behrouzi Nezhad: “In the name of God
- My friend, I see that you’re ready to go.
- Thank you very much; I put you to trouble.
- When I saw you coming this way from far away, I thought that your car had broken.
I asked myself why you were on foot and then I found out that you were on a pilgrimage ToImam Reza’a shrine. Please send my best regards.
Tell him for me that one of his servants wants him to make it possible for him to make a pilgrimage on foot to his shrine.
- I’m sorry that I bothered you last night. I hope to see you again.
- I respect you so much because you walk on foot from Birjand to Mashhad.
- Pray for me and forgive me if I have bothered you in any way.
- God bless you! Goodbye.
- I hope that you’ll get to Mashhad safe and sound with the help of God.
When I get to this point, I forget about the exhaustion of the road and travel. I become totally relaxed.
Sea and mountains get exhausted on the way I tread.
Oh you blessed Khidr, help me.
I seem to be far away from your abode.
But in my heart I’m one of resident of your dwelling.”