By the time Lutfullah Behzad arrived at a strip of police tape and saw a cluster of emergency vehicles around the site of a fatal accident on 11th Avenue near 16th Street in Burnaby last Thursday, his anxiety had already hit an unbearable pitch.
He had gotten a call at work saying his 14-year-old daughter, Muska, might have been involved in an accident, but his phone calls to police and ambulance had yielded no information.
His wife had told him their daughter hadn’t gotten home from school yet, but she wasn’t worried because Muska sometimes stayed late for extra English classes.
He didn’t want to worry her, so when he got back to his 12th Avenue home, he had asked a neighbour to go for a drive with him.
At 11th Avenue and 15th Street they had come upon the police tape.
Behzad told an officer his daughter was late coming home from school, and the officer asked for his name and identification.
Behzad waited in the rain for another 30 excruciating minutes before his worst fears were realized.
His firstborn child was dead.
“I started crying, crying, crying,” he says.
'A unique person'
Muska Behzad was born on May 1, 2008 in Laghman province, Afghanistan.
From the start, she was the “common loving point” between Behzad and his wife, Ogai Ayoubi.
By the time she turned 14 on May 1, Muska was like a second mom to her eight-year-old brother, according Behzad, and a big help with her 10-year-old brother, who has special needs and has to be fed through a stomach tube.
Muska had seen how busy her mom was with her other five children and asked to be taught the feeding process, Behzad says.
“She was a unique person,” he says.
Talking about his daughter, Behzad returns again and again to her generosity, maturity and intelligence.
At the time, Behzad, a former advisor at the ministry of agriculture in Afghanistan who came to Canada as a refugee in 2018, was supporting the family by working at a warehouse and doing moving work on the weekends.
Witnessing how hard her dad was working, Muska vowed to become a doctor someday so she could help support the family, according to her father.
“She was a very, very intelligent and very active person,” Behzad says.
Her death has shattered the family, he says, and his wife has been inconsolable.
“For them, particularly, I have to be more strong. If I’m not strong, we will be nowhere,” Behzad says.
'The saddest moment'
Muska died after being hit by a dump truck on her way back from school at Byrne Creek Community School.
The truck involved was associated with the nearby Southgate City construction project, and area residents have expressed outrage since the accident, saying the city hasn’t done enough to keep them safe from construction traffic.
But Behzad says he hadn’t been worried about Muska walking home from school because he thought of Canada as “one of the safest places on earth.”
“When you come from Afghanistan, with the thinking that I will be living peacefully, I will be living longer because there will be no mine explosions, no suicide bombers, and when you come to Canada and those terrible things happening to you, it’s the saddest, the saddest moment.”