REMEMBERING MEHRAN CHINNIAH

REMEMBERING MEHRAN CHINNIAH

8 July 1969  to  1 September 2021

This is a moving story of one who pioneered at a young age when the call came and served the Cause with such determination and distinction that his services are surely to be remembered in the annals of the Faith. The article is divided into two parts, the first being recollections of Mehran’s early life from his family.

Recollections from Mehran’s family


Mehran at left stealing the show on the occasion of the third birthday celebrations of his elder brother Soheil. Standing at right are Nabil, Soheil and Saffura

It was our mother who recently reminded us of how Mehran got his name. When she was pregnant with her 4th child, our mother was so convinced it would be a girl. So, when Mehran popped out, she panicked and turned to a Persian Bahá’í travel teacher who happened to be visiting and asked him if he could give a name for her new-born son. This man thought for a while and said, “How about Mehran?” My mother said, “I am fine with it but the meaning? What is the meaning of Mehran?” “He who is loved.” And he truly lived up to that name. As a dear friend of his Vela Gopal told us, “I am struggling to recover because of Mehran’s strong, powerful force of love. He pulled me in, pulled me in with his love!”


As he learned to walk


Mehran at the extreme right, with other grandchildren of Mr and Mrs Leong Tat Chee, at the Bahá’í Centre in Malacca

Mehran in the loving embrace of his mother Lily at left and his father Inbum at right


Mehran, always a centre of attraction to visitors, seen here with Ravichandran who was at that time staying at the residence of Inbum


At their home at  Jalan Terkis, Kuala Lumpur, 1971.  L-R:  Ah Lan with Soheil on her lap, Lily Chinniah with Mehran on her lap, Nabil, Saffura and Letchimi, with Inbum Chinniah at the back

Mehran Chinniah was the youngest of four siblings. From young, he and his siblings grew up in a Bahá’í environment where his parents nurtured their children in the Bahá’í way of life as best as they could. They were taught to memorise prayers and holy writings and to recite them at a very early age. Plenty of Bahá’í books were made available. The parents would often share stories of the heroes of the Faith. These stories would have touched Mehran and seems to have fueled his desire to serve the Faith. The siblings were sent to children’s classes without fail, and summer and winter schools were a highlight of their childhood where they learned more about the Faith and community life.


Mehran at right going for the cake that his grandfather Leong Tat Chee cuts on his birthday on March 21, 1971. At left is Saffura  and at the back of Mehran is Nabil

Our father passed away when Mehran was just 10+ years old. It seems that something determined in him that he was going to be like all the wonderful things that people told him about his father and tried to live up to it.


At the Bahá’í Centre in Kuala Lumpur in 1972. L-R: Inbum Chinniah, Saffura, Yaw Kam Sim, Mehran in the arms of  Lily Chinniah, Mrs. Elizabeth Gibson

In the early 1990s, Cambodia emerged from communism and the beloved Universal House of Justice gave the Malaysian Bahá’í community the goal of opening up Cambodia to the Faith. Mehran was an old school pioneer, our family grew up with stories of the early pioneers, the pioneers of the 10 Year Crusade and burying your bones in your pioneering post. He was so keen to pioneer and as soon as he completed his law degree, he left for Cambodia in 1994 where he moved to Phnom Penh and started working for The Cambodia Times. He tried so hard to find a job before leaving for Cambodia and even took a Certificate in Journalism. He started off well in Cambodia however, the years of civil strife took its toll and he struggled with work all the while he was there. He was an intelligent person, and it did not take long before he mastered the Khmer language, and he was so fluent with spoken Khmer that he was as good as a native speaker. This skill steered him through the thick and thin of bonding in love and fellowship with Khmers of all backgrounds.


Part of the 41 Conferences held in Battambang in 2008. Mehran is seated with headphone

He returned to Malaysia for about one year to complete his bar exams and was back in Cambodia in 1996, though he never practiced law. He worked variously as an English teacher and sometimes managed to find work as a translator. He found work as a Human Resources manager in various hotels and as a trainer teaching hospitality service to hotels and worked in executive search as well. Despite setbacks in life in Cambodia, he refused to leave. There were opportunities to go to Australia or return to Malaysia or work in the middle east but he always found some reasons to remain at his post.

In April 1997, he married to an Australian pioneer to Cambodia. Sadly, their marriage did not last, and his ex-wife and his son would later return to Australia. Mehran remained in contact with them until his untimely passing.


Naw-Rúz celebrations in Siem Reap in  2007 with  Mehran standing at back row, third from right. Seated at the extreme right is Mario

Meanwhile, the political situation in Cambodia changed for the worse and owing to a coup d’état tat in July 1997, he and a few other Bahá’ís were forced to leave the country. Mehran and his wife escaped back to Malaysia on a Royal Malaysian Air Force plane. But his heart was still with Cambodia. While back in Malaysia, he told a Bahá’í friend that he was planning to return to Cambodia and when the friend said, why don’t you wait until the upheaval has settled, Mehran replied, “How can we tell the local believers in Cambodia that we love them, but leave them at the first sign of trouble?” So, Mehran and his wife returned to Phnom Penh after a month. Mehran hardly ever spoke of what he did for the Faith in Cambodia, he was humble and coupled with a self-deprecating sense of humour, the family hardly knew what he did. And so we must leave it to his dear friends in Cambodia to fill in the gaps of his pioneering services.


 With children in Siem Reap, 2008

Recollections by friends in Cambodia

He was always  jovial in nature, with a kindly disposition to all and a cheeky sense of humour. He was totally down to earth and had no airs whatsoever. In the early years of his settling down with his family in Phnom Penh, he used to hold children’s classes in his house after the dawn prayers. Almost all the children in his neighbourhood would attend his children’s classes. In that poverty stricken country, Mehran ensured he had a good supply of bread and other food to ensure the children attending were well fed.


Delegate election in Kampong Thom, 2011

In 1996, Mehran became the first believer to own a car in Phnom Penh. The purpose of the car was clear – it was to serve the Cause by providing transport for the friends from the Bahá’í Centre and to send them back after each activity. He also used to pick up children for the children’s classes. After about a year, he changed his car to a van so that he could accommodate more passengers. In fact, whenever travel teachers or visitors arrived from abroad, he was always the first to volunteer to pick up them from the airport and being hospitable to a fault, he unfailingly offered accommodation for the travel teachers in his house and take them teaching to the nearby villages. On days when he was free he would take the visitors for a city tour, and if time permitted, he would drive them to the outskirts as well.  The Local Spiritual Assembly of Phnom Penh would organise a weekend teaching trips to Kor Kerbai and Kien Svay villages and Mehran would use his van all the time to bring friends to on those teaching trips.


During  the first visit of Yogachandran from  the USA to Cambodia in 1998, Mehran provided them with the best hospitality and arranged a few tours for them. Seen here is Yogachandra’s wife Debbie and his youngest daughter Natascha on an auto-rickshaw that Mehran arranged.

Moved Places

In 1998 and 1999, he was the first believer to become a home front pioneer to Ta Khmau city which is about 11 kilometres south of Phnom Penh. There, Mehran opened his house for activities and strengthened the community. In March 2005, he moved to Siem Reap and worked for Sofitel Angkor Hotel as HR Manager and from 2007 – 2010 at Victoria Hotel as HR Manager. He then had a position as trainer for Artisan d’Angkor Duty Free at the airport. In 2013, he moved to Kampong Som (Sihanoukville) once again working for Sokha Angkor Hotel for about 6 months and in 2014 he returned to Phnom Penh to work for a Compagnie Fluviale Du Mekong (Mekong River cruise tour boat company).


Feast at the residence of Mario seated on the floor at the extreme right. Mehran is standing at back row, fourth from right

Wherever he lived, Mehran’s focus was always on service to the Faith. His dear friend and fellow pioneer to Cambodia, Mariapan Muniandy affectionately known as Mario, who arrived had as a pioneer in Siem Reap at the same time as Mehran in 1994 and stayed on in Cambodia for 28 years, said that during Mehran’s stay in Siem Reap, “… without fail he would come to my house to pick me after work, and we will go to teaching to nearby villages not far from town. He was always happy and excited to open his house for Bahá’í activities such as for Ruhi classes, devotional meetings, children’s classes, and Junior Youth spiritual empowerment programs. He even served them with meal before or after the classes as he always said they will learn better when they are not hungry.”

Mehran was a source of great strength to the local people, both believers and non-believers alike in the wake of the troubles they were going through. He was always there to help those who needed assistance. He was deeply touched by the deprivation and plight which Cambodians faced as a result of the war-torn days of Pol Pot, civil war, and ongoing political and economic crises. He had deep feelings for them and his sorrow for what they had and were going through; always with understanding and comforting and helping them in any way possible. He always had time and a place in his heart for any Cambodian with whom he was in contact with and was always with proclaiming and teaching the Faith where possible. Mehran was not one who merely spoke of the high principles of the Bahá’í Faith but rather lived it and showed how happy one can be living the Bahá’í life and sharing that happiness with others.


Mehran, a popular “Uncle” among children celebrating Ayyám-i-Há in Siem Reap community, 2011

In the ten years since his arrival, Mehran served the Faith in various capacities, firstly as member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Phnom Penh and later the Local Spiritual Assembly of Siem Reap from 2006 to 2011. Mehran came to Siem Reap once again in 2018 and set up the Unity Hostel with a friend and once again served as a member of Local Spiritual Assembly of Siem Reap until he passed away from this mortal world. He also served on the National Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia and often said how privileged he was to represent Cambodia along with other members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia at the funeral service held in the Holy Land for Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum in 2000. He was an Auxiliary Board member from 2000 to 2003, and was a Representative of the Regional Board of the Trustees of Ḥuqúqu’lláh for South East Asia from  2006 to 2013. He helped organize the first Ḥuqúqu’lláh Regional Conference for South East Asia in Cambodia, Siem Reap in December 2010. Mehran was at the forefront of making arrangements for the Conference and to ensure all representatives were safe, he would go all the way to pick them personally by his car from the airport. He took his duties as a Representative of the Ḥuqúqu’lláh very seriously and never failed to share and educate anyone that he could about the sacred law of Ḥuqúqu’lláh.


Conference of the Regional Board of the Trustees of Ḥuqúqu’lláh South East Asia, held in Siem Reap, 2011. Standing L-R: Thian Boon Meng, Mehran Chinniah, Vasugy Theenathayalu, Paramasvian Sinnasamy, Aaron Young, Theenathayalu, Thoa Nguyen Dinh, Benedict Chee, Sona Liauw, Vijayaletchumy, Subangi Sangaran, Mariapan Muniandy. Sitting L-R: Carol Shamandari, May Bong, Mai Ain, Dr. John Fozdar, Mrs. Keo Yvette, Humaida Jumalon

The National Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia was first elected in Riḍván 1994. Yet, for some years after that it was not able to secure legal recognition as the governing council of the Bahá’í Community of Cambodia. Sometime in 2002, the Institutions of the Faith felt a need for a concerted effort to secure a stronger legal footing for the affairs of the Faith in Cambodia including by the legal registration of the National Spiritual Assembly. A few individuals helped in the important process and one of them was Mehran Chinniah. Mehran was instrumental in helping Selvam Satanam from Singapore who was the resource person assigned to assist  the National Spiritual Assembly of Cambodia to be registered with the Ministry of Religion and Cults in 2003. Mehran played a key role in developing local contacts at the Ministry. His ability to secure appointments and interact informally in Khmer language with government officials, lawyers and even publishers of official government laws and reports, went a long way in finally identifying the best way forward and eventually securing the legal registration of the National Assembly of Cambodia in June 2003. He had an uncanny ability to put people at ease and garner their assistance to help further the interests of the Faith in Cambodia.

Never Compromised

Mario shares another recollection where he and Mehran were tasked by the National Assembly to deliver a letter to an individual about a ‘voting right’ situation. He says, “It was bad news. That was the first time I saw how serious, sad and quiet Mehran was from the time we started travelling, reached the individual’s home, had a little conversation, handed the envelope and headed back to the National Bahá’í Center.”

Always Ready to Help

It was his nature to make everyone happy. He was more than angel to everyone, he treated people and served them, he loved everyone much more than himself, he never kept his own money in his pocket, in fact his bank account had no money. He didn’t have good food to eat, even labourers had better food than him. He only had good food when he met friends from overseas or other friends, and he would bring them to a good restaurant, but he would always quietly pay the bill without letting his friends know. There were moments too where for his daily meal he never spent more than $2 for one meal, because he wanted to save his money to help the friends. Every month when he got his salary, he would distribute to many friends who had no food for their families. Mehran never told anyone how much he sacrificed nor  said a word about his goodly deeds or his services to humankind. He was truly one who sacrificed all his time, his wealth and even his life for Cambodia. He did not have much material wealth at all and never owned a home, epitomising these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “O ye homeless and wanderers in the path of God!”


At the residence of Mrs. Ramani Vela in Phnom Penh during a Special Devotional Gathering in 2016. Sitting L-R: Mehran’s landlord, Dr. Joseph Swaminathan, Ly Sorsane, Mrs. Srey Mom (Mehran’s landlady) and her daughter Kolin, Thanuja Mahmood, Mrs. Dam Sok Kanya. On the floor L-R: Mehran, Rith Chanveasna, ABM Davith Nou, Thim Eng, Srey Vathey. Children: L-R: Landlady’s son, Anisha Vela and Johnny

On 11 April 2020, Mehran was dealt a terrible blow when his dear friend Mohajir Satanam passed away in Malaysia. They were close and spoke to each other almost every day. Mehran never spoke much about his grief over the loss of Mohajir but penned a most moving tribute for his eulogy. Little did we suspect that Mehran himself would join his friend in the Abhá paradise the following year.

One month before his passing Mehran, came to know that the nephew of his dear friend had Covid-19 and he wanted him to stay in his hostel so that could take care of him, but his uncle refused in order to protect Mehran. Mehran kept insisting and this friend had to threaten to end their friendship if he did that! His friend was most moved by his selflessness, but this was an example of how he tried to live the Bahá’í life.

Mehran was a very happy person and never once showed any anger or sadness to anyone who crossed his path. He went out his way to help others although he himself often needed help. Despite the numerous challenges in his own life, he never showed his difficulties to others. Mehran had no interest in material things and hardly spent money on himself, he always wanted to save money so that he could use that money to help others. This included not repairing his car when it broke down or replacing his spectacles.


Some close friends at the  Bahá’í House of Worship in Battambang, Cambodia in 2017. L-R- Malini Mohajer, Mohajer Satanam, Mehran, Zoran  Theenathayalu, Mario, Mrs Marpha Mario and Kasturi (Singapore)

He ensured that everyone whom he met would hear about Bahá’u’lláh and would tell them something about the Faith. He was always teaching. Countless are the number of Cambodians who learned of the Faith from him, and they undoubtedly would have shed profuse tears on the news of his passing away. The hotel guest who assisted with trying to resuscitate him the evening he passed away said that Mehran was sharing Bahá’í principles with him that very morning.

Feast of Izzat (Might) 7 Sept 2017 following the inauguration of the first local Bahá’í House of Worship, Battambang held at the residence of Mrs. Ramani Vela. Back row L-R: German Bahá’í, Mehran, Thanuja Mahmood and German Bahá’í. Front row: L-R: Ramani Vela, Thim Eng, Anisha Vela, Navin Chamreoun, Siphong Chamreoun, Mrs. Sophany Chamreoun, Sophany’s father and a friend.


Sector Level 19-Day Feast at Phnom Penh Bahá’í Centre in Sept 2017. Standing L:R: Raymond Peter, Ly Sorsane, Rotanak, Mehran, (unknown), Yvette and Phengkia. Seated: L-R: Vela Gopal, Sano, Rajwantee Lepain. On the floor: L-R: Thanuja Mahmood, Anisha Vela, Mona, Moni, (unknown), Aun Livina

For some years, Mehran’s family in Malaysia had been asking him to come back to Malaysia as they knew that life was challenging for him in Cambodia, but he told them he wanted to bury his bones in his pioneering post. A year before Mehran passed away, he was struck by dengue fever and had to be admitted into hospital. Family and friends were asking him to go back to Malaysia as it will better life for him there, but he said that he still has a lot of things to do here in Cambodia and do not wish to go back.


Children and Junior Youth gathering, 2019.  Mehran stands second from right

His Last Days

During the time he was running Unity Hostel in Siem Reap and during the Covid-19 pandemic, he helped so many people including tourists who were stranded in Siem Reap by giving them a very cheap rate just to make sure they had place to stay although he did not make any profit for the hotel. He also helped some guests with getting them a job and provided simple meals during this most difficult time for them. Many long term guests stayed on in his hostel just because they felt his warmth and love as he welcomed them as members of one family. Mehran actively participated in Ruhi study classes during the pandemic and even invited his guests to join a couple of classes. He himself tutored a Book 8 study circle where he encouraged many of his old friends and family members to join his Ruhi classes.


Ayyám-i-Há celebrations in Siem Reap. Mehran is at the extreme left, back row. Like his parents, Mehran’s heart melted for the simple people in simple surroundings.

On the morning of 1 Sept 2021, he invited some of homeless local people who were walking on the street and gave them fried rice for breakfast despite he himself not having much to eat. One of the American tourists who was staying in his hostel was stunned with the act of Mehran in inviting the poor and feeding them. In fact, one of the policemen who came to sign off on the documentation after Mehran had passed away told the Bahá’ís that he knew Mehran and appreciated of his kindness, generosity, and cheerfulness.

That evening, he joined other friends in studying a Ruhi book 8 unit 2. After that, he called a Bahá’í friend in Thailand and then spoke to his brother Nabil in Indonesia to ask him about  a photo of the early  Counsellors he had seen. Just after that call was made, he developed some chest pain. It seems he thought it was just another chest pain and he asked his worker to get him some paracetamol. By the time the pain killer was brought, Mehran quietly slipped into the next world, passing away with his boots on as a pioneer. Mehran always thought of himself as a quiet worker of the Faith and it was in this way that he also left this world, without any fanfare and fuss. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talks about the “noble soul to follow in the footsteps of their dear father, to show forth his character and conduct amongst all people”. Both father and son passed away  in similar circumstances – sudden and untimely, and in the service of their beloved Faith. How sad the family from Malaysia could not come for the funeral owing to the Covid-19 travel restrictions. Yet the believers from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang stepped into the shoes of the family and organized the funeral and the final send off just as what his family would have done. To the friends in Cambodia, Mehran was more than a family member to them, and this unexpected and sudden  passing was a difficult blow. But they were consoled that Mehran was called to the Kingdom by His Creator Who certainly loved him more than those on the earthly plane. The family back in Malaysia were moved by the kind gesture of the friends in Cambodia.

Mehran’s services to the Faith have truly brought lustre to his family. He was the grandson of Mr. Leong Tat Chee, the first Auxiliary Board member of Malaysia and who the Supreme Body referred to as a Sincere Promoter of the Cause in their condolence message on his passing, and the son of the late Counsellor Inbum Chinniah, of whose services the Supreme Body said would shed lustre to the annals of the Faith in the region where he served, and he lived up to the high standards they had set. Mehran’s body was laid to rest in a Chinese cemetery near Bakong, which is about 15 kilometres from Siem Reap town, the first Bahá’í to be buried in Siem Reap and an abiding  testimony to one who endeavoured to give his all to Bahá’u’lláh.

Mehran always brought that contagious joy and happiness in family get-together or any gathering

Mehran was always on the lookout for someone or some opportunity to teach the Faith. He would go to places where the youth played games of various kinds. He would find ways of befriending them and slowly introduce the Faith to them. There is a story of him visiting petrol stations almost every day to teach the Faith. Usually car owners would fill their gas tanks to the full, if not half. But in the case of Mehran he used to visit a gas station, and fill gas for only USD 1 per trip. After filling the gas from the pumps, he would go into the office to pay the money and would return the following day to do the same – fill gas for USD 1. A believer who accompanied Mehran asked him why he had to do something out of the usual. And Mehran replied that if he had filled the tank in full he would not be returning for so many days until the gas tank was almost empty. But by filling for only USD 1, he would have the opportunity to meet the cashier inside the office for several days, and over a period of time, Mehran could make friends with the cashier and teach the Faith. Teaching was certainly always in his mind.

He had a strong analytical mind. When going through passages from the Writings in group discussions, he would quickly refer to some other writings on the same subject and bring into focus that subject in discussion with a holistic picture.   That would enable the listeners to get a complete picture. While he was well versed in the teachings and writings, he was also a keen observer of world events, and he had the uncanny ability to connect the Writings with the happenings in the world.

Meeting with Counsellor George Soraya in Siem Reap, 2011. Mehran is at the extreme right

Not that he did not have any difficult moments in life. A pioneer’s life comes with difficulties as part of the package. Mehran would try his best to fight against unpleasant things in life and was determinedly happy. He was a radiator of positive thoughts. When someone felt down in spirit he would lift their spirits not only by his own words of comfort, but also through Bahá’í stories and writings. He always ensured conversations do not drift into negativity vibrations. Upon his passing, messages were received from the National Spiritual Assemblies of Cambodia and Malaysia and the Regional Board of Trustees of Huqúqu’lláh Southeast Asia, extracted below:

Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Cambodia

It is with great sadness that the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Cambodia informs everyone of the passing of dear Mehran Chinniah at around 9:35pm of September 1, 2021 in Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia. He had been a long time pioneer to Cambodia, since 1994. Mehran, as everybody calls him here in Cambodia, has been known for his friendly disposition, generosity and very active in the activities of whichever community he belonged in. It was always nice to be with Mehran in conversation about the Faith which many people in the community, no matter foreigners or Khmer friends, may have enjoyed very much.

The Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia

The Spiritual Assembly recalls with pride and joy his wonderful and dedicated services as our Malaysian pioneer in Cambodia since 1994. Our appreciation of his contribution towards the development of the Faith in his pioneering field, the profound love he had for the people there cannot be adequately put into words.  Mehran was an exceptional supporter of the Cause and dedicated to the path of service he has devoted himself to. He was well loved and will be remembered for his most delightful sense of humour, his ability to make close friends, his humility, his capacity to sacrifice, his generosity, his gentle kindness to all and a source of joy to family and friends, nay even strangers he came across. We find solace in the memory of our dear Mehran and feel assured by the knowledge that he will assuredly find eternal happiness in God’s Paradise.  We are sure you will be comforted with the knowledge that people whose lives have been touched by his spirit and love are thinking and praying for him. Please accept our deepest condolences and our assurance of prayers for the progress of the beautiful and precious soul of Mehran in the Abhá Kingdom and our supplications for you and the family for spiritual strength, comfort and solace of your hearts.


Bi-Centenary Celebrations of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, 2019.

The Regional Board of Trustees of Huqúqu’lláh Southeast Asia

We will remember Mehran for his gentle and joyful disposition, his generosity of spirit and unquestioned loyalty and unwavering love for the Cause, and always putting the work of the Faith first above all else. He is well loved by all members of the Southeast Asia Huqúqu’lláh Institution. Please be assured that the Board will pray for the elevation and progress of Mehran’s soul as he ascends to the Abha Kingdom. We have informed the Office of Huqúqu’lláh in the World Center and they have assured us that prayers will be offered in the Holy Shrines for the progress of his noble soul.


At the launching of the book on Inbum Chinniah in Malacca, December 2013. L-R: Saffura, Mehran, Nabil and Soheil with Lily seated

Thus ended the life of a sweet spirited one who endeavoured to live his life in accordance to the dictates of the Bahá’í Faith and the example of the beloved Master.


At the burial site L-R: Phen Sody, Nal Vannak (NSA Secretary), Kartik, Counsellor Reth Sokuntheary, Heourn Leakena, Chao Hav and Helena

 

FINAL RESTING PLACE

Bahá’u’lláh Himself testifies:

They that have forsaken their country in the path of God and subsequently ascended unto His presence, such souls shall be blessed by the Concourse on High and their names recorded by the Pen of Glory among such as have laid down their lives as martyrs in the path of God, the Help in peril, the Self- Subsistent.

 

Soheil Chinniah
Perth
Australia
31 March 2022

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22 thoughts on “REMEMBERING MEHRAN CHINNIAH

  1. Thank you Soheil for penning this story on your brother Mehran.

    Mehran is indeed the young and brave. At such an early age he went off pioneering in a God-forsaken place and transformed it into a congenial spot of the world of ‘Abha’.

    He did not waiver a tiny bit. The mission and vision is there, and you just go for it without hesitation – all geared up for the sole purpose for the proclamation and propagation of the Cause of God in the Khmer Kingdom. We all know his character, manner, behavior, and sense of humor. Am still remembering his jokes.

    Now his accomplishments for the Cause are recorded for posterity. This is indeed unique in the Baha’i history of Cambodia. As we all know, this country was given that special place when it was selected to be one of the first to have a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, at the local level at Battambang. A house of worship is constructed as and when there is a thriving Baha’i community. That was made possible owing to the efforts of pioneers including Mehran in this Kingdom.

    His departure from this earthly plane of existence was indeed fast, sudden and shocking to many of us. But in the final analysis, his purpose for the Cause has been achieved and he is moving on to the many worlds of God. Hail to thee, Mehran!

    Meric Merican
    Singapore

  2. Dear Soheil
    My heart was glowing reading the extraordinary service of your dear brother Mehran. Only one word comes to my mind – “servitude”. His life was dedicated for teaching and his passion was to cultivate fellowship with all so that he could present the Faith to all people that came across in his path. What an exemplary life he lived. He went about serving well but quietly without any publicity and even not sharing with his own family members. Cambodia is blessed with his services, and he will be remembered forever in the history of Cambodia, and Malaysia as well.

    I had very few chances to meet with him. And the last time we were together was in a zoom study class on the letter from the Universal House of Justice, organized by dear friend Mario.

    Reading his story gives me more encouragement to do more services in His path.

    Bless be Mehran’s soul.
    Nehru
    Chicago
    USA

  3. It’s hard to believe Mehran is gone, for in my mind he’s still very much alive, full of life and laughter. When he was very young he loved playing the board game of carom and he was quite an expert at it and of course he would invariably win when I played against him, the uncle was no match against his nephew!

    It wasn’t until many years later when he was already pioneering in Cambodia that Mariette and I caught up with him in Phnom Penh Cambodia in 2012, spending almost a week in his company and listening to his stories and observing his teaching efforts and warm friendships with the local friends. He was most definitely local in every way for he spoke like a true Cambodian and his actions were similar. He was generous to a fault as he would insist on paying for the meals afterwards at the restaurant.

    It was perhaps about 5 years ago that the daughter of a friend from our Wollongong community visited Cambodia for a holiday. Mehran very seriously said to her that there would be a meeting that night and kindly asked her to give a talk on the “Tablet of the Holy Mariner” to the friends, she almost had a nervous breakdown and rang her dad about it! That was typically Mehran, he was always finding a way to make life funny without hurting anyone, which of course was never his intention!

    He has left his mark, his legacy in Cambodia, and his consecrated spirit of service to the people will always be remembered and cherished. We will miss you Mehran, God bless you forever! Much much love from us all, your extended family in Australia.

    Leong Ho San
    Wollongong
    Australia

  4. It is never an easy task to articulate with eloquence, heartfelt admiration and feelings about someone so awe-inspiring and this truth cannot be any further when I think of Mehran. As I was reading line by line of this beautiful account by Soheil late last night, tears flowed from my eyes not because of the loss of my dear friend Mehran which is still greatly felt, but because in between paragraphs of this account, I felt the sobs, weeping and grief of a brother as I wondered how many days he must have paused to remember tearfully and to pen down the beautiful life of his baby brother. A baby brother who loved his brothers and sister so dearly. A brother’s love is a brother’s love.

    From early childhood to my adult life my memories of Mehran, is one that never lacked humour, fun, happiness and most of all laughter. From my youth years I have always wondered how my Baha’i life and those of my peers will turn out in the distant future because in the end it is always about one man’s journey from darkness to light, is it not? Though created noble, we are born into a world filled with darkness and while we navigate ourselves in this darkness towards light, we have to live it in such a way that we brighten the lives of others and that’s exactly what beloved Mehran did.

    Many a time I have found myself overwhelmed by the feeling of inadequacy to emulate the Master. I found it humanly impossible at times to live up to the standards and the examples the Master personified. The Master occupies a place so lofty that many of us struggle to reach such a height but then every now and then we get a little help. Steps appear in our midst that help us climb towards the Master’s exhortation of how we should lead our lives and those steps are people like Mohajir and Mehran. Because they lived among us and were just as human as any one of us, they made it easier for us to endeavour to be better Baha’is.

    Walking the mystical path with practical feet. How beautifully Mehran did this. He did whatever it took to sustain himself while he continually walked that mystical path through service. We live in a world where it has become a norm for people to showcase their acts of service during times of crisis on social media and for the most part these acts of service were seasonal but to Mehran it was a way of life every single day, year in and year out. Not only was it his way of life but he lived it by serving the communities as silent as the night. To love and to serve mankind was what he breathed and one could draw parallels in the ways of how the heroes and the martyrs we read about from the Dawn Breakers offered their lives for the love of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.

    I am moved to remember the story of Hujjat during the persecution and sufferings in Zanjan as well as those difficult times of fort Tabarsi led by Mulla Husayn and Quddus. Many times, the companions were given the opportunity to leave the fort and to seek safe haven for themselves and their families and while there were those handful who did, others in their immense love for the Faith remained and drank the cup of martyrdom. Mehran’s decision to go back to Cambodia during those risky times by virtue of not wanting to desert the friends in times of difficulty and not because of the dangers brings to mind that same spirit of those companions. Mehran was a fountain constantly emptying itself in love and service through sacrifice and as a result the invisible source was always replenishing him. This is the true meaning of a living martyr.

    In the words of the Master, “how I long to travel the world in utmost poverty”, so did Mehran and while he was materially not wealthy, spiritually he was a Maharaja! While the rest of us toil to survive in this short, fleeting material world, Mehran amassed wealth beyond measure that he has taken with him to a world that never ends.
    For those of us who grew up with Mehran, we have had the good fortune of experiencing his mischief, his jokes but remarkably his deep voice that complemented his warmth especially towards children is something that never ceased admiration. I looked forward to the simpler things in Mehran whenever I had the chance to be with him and wait for moments that would set off that thunderous laughter only Mehran had, a unique feature like none other because his laughter always made everyone around him laugh and I always thought if at all anything needs to be contagious at a pandemic level, Mehran’s laughter should be it. Mehran’s purity was unapologetic and unrestrained like the wind. Our own struggles and pursuits in life sometimes puts distance between us and our friends and while the loss of Mehran is difficult, I cannot help but rejoice that I had not seen my old friend for a long time because he was busy transforming lives and making the world a better place. What a way to be remembered.

    The day after his memorial service, Mehran appeared in my dream. It was short but very meaningful. I was walking past an old Chinese traditional restaurant that was a wooden building, rustic and classic in appearance. It was filled with people laughing, drinking and rejoicing and outside the restaurant was an old wooden bench with a man seated on it and as I passed, from my peripheral vision I recognized the man was Mehran. I was aware of his presence and also the fact that my dear friend had just passed. I immediately took out my phone to capture the moment so that I could share with Soheil what I had seen and Mehran in his usual funny ways posed for my camera in various cheeky styles with that usual beaming smile after which he waved and proceeded to enter the restaurant and become one with its patrons whom I knew were angels from the concourse on high. I could only imagine his grand reunion in the Abha Kingdom.

    I want to end my comment by thanking my beautiful brother Mehran. I thank you for making it easier for people like me in striving to be a better Baha’i and to remind me what truly matters in life. Every day of our lives should be about making the world a better place and you have shown me how it should be done with nothing but love. What a blessing to have known you and to be your friend and to have loved you.
    While it is thought that to live life on our own terms is a privilege, Mehran lived his on Baha’u’llah’s terms and that in my book is glorious.

    Naren Narasiah
    Shah Alam
    Malaysia

  5. Soheil

    Thank you for writing about Mehran.

    Though he was a year younger than me, I would consider him my elder brother as far as serving Baha’u’llah is concerned. Arising immediately to the call of beloved Universal House of Justice for pioneers to the war-torn country is beyond my imagination. That involves much sacrifice, but Mehran arose. As usual, he faced tremendous challenges in the field of teaching in Cambodia, but eventually found his mark by his persistence and no giving up attitude. I can also see some resemblance with his father both in apprearance, kind gesture, service and commitment to the Cause. I attended a few youth institutes together with Mehran in late 1980s and early 1990s and enjoyed his company and his natural humor. We had dinner together in an indian restaurant in Battambang in 2019 and it was the last meal with dear Mehran.

    Mehran is well remembered and his legacy is now preserved for posterity through this posting in this blog. Once again thank you Soheil

    Pandiyan Thangapandy
    Ipoh
    Malaysia

  6. Soheil, you have written with such eloquence the story of his dedicated life for the Cause . I vividly remember meeting Mehran when I visited Uncle Inbam’s house in the late 1970s. They were great kids, well guided by their parents. It is so tragic that he passed away so early like his father. His life was a total sacrifice for the Faith. Humility and unwavering devotion to the Cause of God was his virtue.

    His life story will inspire generation yet to come. Keep up the good work.

    Professor Dr. Ananthan Krishnan
    Puchong
    Malaysia

  7. Dear Soheil,
    That was a truly inspiring account of Mehran’s life’s journey.
    These are special souls that decend on this earth to fullfill a special purpose. They are rare gems who come to this world for special purpose beyond our comprehension. Not many can be alike. God bless him and the likes of him. Their sacrifice is difficult to emulate.

    May Mehran find peace in the Abha kingdom and be among the likes.

    Ramaish Chander Biaspal
    Shah Alam
    Malaysia

  8. When I was living in Thailand, I visited Cambodia several times. During my first visit, Mehran met me at the taxi stand in Phnom Penh. My wife Debbie and my youngest daughter Natascha joined during this trip. I have distinct memories of the time I spend with him in Cambodia.

    The first thing, I noticed was that Mehran was a simple, pure-hearted person who drove us around the town in his old car – must be a Japanese one. Each time he started the car, we could hear a high pitch of a failing muffler – a brief sharp sound – and gradually goes away each time he picks up the speed. He was one of the kindest persons, I’ve ever met. We stayed with him and he was a wonderful host.

    Mehran loves the host country more than he loved is home country. While teaching this sacred Cause, he combined immense personal warmth, a special Mehran’s unique touch, generosity of spirit, serene humility and vigilance in the protection of the Faith in his host country. His pure friendliness, simplicity and outgoing personality touched and inspired the hearts of all the locals who crossed his path. While walking with him in the market place in Phnom Penh, I noticed how the locals recognized him and greeted him. The locals loved him. His dedication to the Faith and his unwavering obedience to the pioneering post – just being a simple soul – left a legacy in Cambodia that will be felt for a long time in his host and home countries.

    Nat Yogachandra
    General Manager
    Bahai Publishing Trust
    Wilmette
    Chicago
    USA

  9. This comment is from my late daughter Nadeera’s Facebook posting on hearing about the passing of Mehran. Nadeera wrote this prior to her own passing on 27 Sep 2021.

    Uncle Mehran’s sudden and untimely passing on the 1st of September 2021 shook the entire Bahá’í community of Malaysia, Cambodia as well as many other parts of the world. It was something no one saw coming, leaving many of those closest to him utterly shattered and distraught, questioning ‘Why him? Why now? He is so young. Only 52 years old. Why couldn’t he have stayed with us longer?” Despite these painful questions which may remain forever unanswered, deep down, we know that there is definitely a wisdom behind all this. Something we mortals may never be able to fully comprehend.

    One of the questions the Master was asked was,

    “𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒘𝒆 𝒉𝒐𝒑𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓?” and His answer was basically, “𝑰𝒕 𝒅𝒐𝒆𝒔𝒏’𝒕 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒚 𝒅𝒊𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆. 𝒀𝒐𝒖’𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒐 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒂𝒄𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕, 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒆𝒙𝒕𝒓𝒂 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒆𝒙𝒕𝒓𝒂. 𝑺𝒐 𝒊𝒇 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒅𝒐 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒐 𝒃𝒚 𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝟏𝟓, 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒙𝒕𝒓𝒂 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒗𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒊𝒔 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒆𝒙𝒕𝒓𝒂. 𝑩𝒖𝒕 𝒊𝒇 𝒂𝒕 𝒂 𝟏𝟎𝟒, 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒚𝒆𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒐 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒐, 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒘𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒘𝒉𝒐𝒍𝒆 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆.”….”

    As painful as it is, we all know that Uncle Mehran is in a place far greater than this mortal plane. Finally reunited with his beloved father whom he lost at only 10 years of age and also with other close family and friends of his who have ascended before him. And I strongly believe that Uncle Mehran has already fulfilled his purpose here in this mortal world and is much needed in the next world than he is here.

    As I was hearing the many stories and recollections of Uncle Mehran by so many of his loved ones, one thing keeps striking my mind. That is, the kind of life he lived here on Earth is an amazing example which many of us can continue to STRIVE to emulate. Such a SELFLESS human being he was. I had also heard many funny stories about him from my father on how he used to pull pranks on others and was so delighted to have had the pleasure of meeting him at least once in my life. In just that one meeting, he drew me in right away and had me laughing out loud almost the entire time. That’s the kind of person he was – such a positive magnetic force everywhere he went. My only regret is not taking the extra effort to be acquainted with him on a more personal level. Because from what I hear, he would definitely have been a wonderful friend to have.

    Dearest Uncle Mehran, I sincerely hope our souls will cross paths again someday and that we can be friends in the next world, if God wills Till then, please continue to watch over all of us here as we all most definitely need the guidance of an Angel like yourself to continue our remaining journey here on Earth

    Dearest Uncle Nabil, Uncle Soheil, Aunty Saffura, Aunty Letchumi and most of all Darling Grandma Lily and Uncle Mehran’s most beloved son Yani, please accept our family’s heartfelt and sincerest condolences to you and your beloved family and extended family on this very sudden and unfathomable loss. I know there are no adequate words we can say to comfort your aching heart at this very moment, but our thoughts and prayers are with you and your beloved family during this most difficult time. Upon listening to the many recollections of him, I have no doubt in my mind that Uncle Mehran will be among the Concourse On High right now joyfully looking down on all of us and will continue to guide all his loved ones through all of life’s ups and downs from hereon. Physically, it is indeed an irreplaceable and an extremely painful loss but Spiritually, he has never left us and never will. Much Love and Warmest Hugs to all of you. Alláh-u-Abhá

    Nadeera Vasu
    Semenyih
    Malaysia

  10. I am shocked and saddened by the news of his untimely passing. I had fond memories of him while he was travel teaching in Kota Baru, Kelantan.
    Deepest condolences to his family. May God bless his beautiful soul. RIP

    Mooi Yong Ng
    Tempe, Arizona
    USA

  11. Uncle Soheil,

    Thank you for writing about uncle Mehran of whom I have the fondest recollections of many great moments.

    We had weekly futsal games on Saturday nights. Uncle Mehran, my brother Abha, and I, and also a couple of the Bahá’í youths would show up at the Futsal court and invite the Khmer youth who were either waiting for their turn to play or bystanders watching to join us. Most of the youth always happy to join in and were comfortable with all of us within a couple of minutes into the game. Uncle Mehran, although quite competitive, would show his playful childlike behavior through his loud voice coaching and joking around with his team in khmer and most of the time a crowd would gather to watch our game.

    One day during our Ruhi classes, Uncle Mehran had this new hilarious approach to how we could get people to join our Ruhi classes. He said during the next Futsal game as you go to tackle your opponents, yell out RUHI upon contact. It would get our opponents thinking and ask what is Ruhi? It was uncle Mehran’s marketing mind at play.

    Uncle Mehran’s objective was to make the Khmer youth to ask about Ruhi rather that than catching them off guard and forcing them into a spiritual course of books. He always wanted to create curiosity deep into their hearts and appreciate it’s spiritual benefits.

    Through such casual tactics uncle Mehran was able to attract a number of young Khmer youth to eventually join our weekly Ruhi courses. The word Ruhi had then become a slogan for us during the futsal game. The Khmer youth love uncle Mehran for his generosity, kindness, motivation and obviously his witty jokes. I can recall that there were several occasions where uncle Mehran helped them in securing jobs too. Uncle Mehran’s loving kindness is beyond boundary. We really miss his energy, physical presence, and audacious contagious personality around us to this day!

    Afshin Velayutham
    Phnom Penh
    Cambodia

  12. Dear Soheil,
    You have brought out the essence of the life and legacy of your youngest sibling Mehran. God bless you!

    It was indeed a rare privilege for me to have known the family of the late Counselor Inbum Chinniah fairly well. I was staying at the Seremban Baha’i Center in early 1969 when Inbum asked me to move to the National Center in Setapak to work as an Administrative Assistant. He was then the secretary of the Aational Assembly and just moved from Jasin town in Malacca state and set up a home in the Furlong Housing, in 1969. That was just 10 min walk from the National Center. I go to their house for lunch every day. Inbum took me into his care and nurtured me when I was a youth. Working under Inbum I had on many occasions reasons to visit him and his family just behind the national Bahai Centre, and they too joined activities at the National Bahai Centre and other places in the country where I was present on. Therefore I came to be in touch with the family only too well.

    Mehran is one person that I admire and love, not only for his dedication for the Faith but his mannerism and character which reminds me of his late father Inbum Chinniah.

    I still remember very clearly that day when Inbum was leaving for the Hospital to bring back Aunty Lily who had just delivered Mehran. The three elder siblings Nabil, Saffura and Soheil, as well as their two housemaids Ah Lan and Lechimi and I were waiting anxiously and Inbum arrived. Aunty Lily carried Mehran and brought him into the house. We all had a look at the that two day old Mehran. I had the opportunity to see Mehran grow up as a child and later as a youth. I kept in touch with him in Cambodia. His laughter, jokes, and his ways always reminds me of Inbum.

    We do not understand the wisdom as to why angelic souls have to be called to the Kingdom so young in life. Perhaps he has grown too fast for his age, or has served his purpose on this earthly plane. It is only natural for anyone to arrive at this conclusion looking a the wide range of activities that Mehran was involved in. What touched me most was his refusal to return to his home in Malaysia after repeated calls by his family. That reminds me of what his illustrious grandfather Leong Tat Chee used to tell us- a pioneer is one who should bury his bones in the country where one served. And today Mehran is immortalized by being buried in his pioneering field. And I was very touched again to see the entire band of close friends organizing his funeral service and final burial, at a time when none of the family members from Malaysia could go over to Cambodia, and they did exactly what the family members would have done. If this is not a wonder that Bahaullah has created by making the beleivers one soul in different bodies, what else? Mehran you have won or stolen the hearts of those in the country where you pioneered.

    May your pure and spotless soul rest in eternal peace.

    C. Kanagaratnam
    Arizona
    USA

  13. Dear Soheil,

    I had the bounty of meeting Mehran a few times and quite enjoyed his company, marveled at his courage, his devotion in serving the Faith, and of course his humorous nature through which he was able to cheer up any crowd. His commitment to finishing a task was commendable as he would not rest until it was done and then moved forward to the next.

    The longest period of time that I was in his company was about two weeks in Phnom Phenh when my wife Giti and I were in Cambodia in 2004 before he moved to Siam Reap. At that time our much-loved friend the late Kanna Baran of Malaysia was assigned to work with the Red Cross in Phnom Phenh. There, we observed something outstanding and different about Mehran that I like to share.

    At that time, Mehran was married to Ramona, the niece of our son-in-law. These, in addition to visiting the Baha’i friends in Battambang, were the reasons for our traveling to Cambodia. For ten days from the first day of arrival in Phnom Phenh, Mehran came to our hotel nearly every day and graciously drove us everywhere to meet the local believers and the small communities around Phnom Phenh where he tutored Ruhi Study Circles. Among these was, he conducting a Study Circle for a group of local believers in their local language. After their study was over they invited us to visit their community which we gladly accepted. We noticed that their community was in the most impoverished district of Phnom Phen amidst the brothels where people lived in grass-roof houses. Its residents and their Christian priest had accepted the Faith and their church now served as the Bahai Center. After a round of prayers and a brief discussion, the youth sang Bahai songs, and we bade goodbye. It was an astonishing and rare experience.

    On the way back while we were appreciating Mehran’s endeavor in this small community, Mehran mentioned that he had been criticized for visiting and teaching the Faith in the community that had a bad name, but that had not deterred him in reaching these poor people and help to elevate their spiritual fortune.This is how Mehran was, just like his father Inbum, who always mentioned that the Faith has not come for everyone and nobody has to be spared of getting the Healing message of Bahaullah.
    Mehran lives in history and in my heart!

    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chieng Mai
    Thailand

  14. Dear Soheil,

    I had the dear opportunity of meeting your brother Mehran in Ipoh town many years back while he was a youth. He and his friends made a trip to Ipoh to meet Ipoh youths and I was one of them included. Although I am senior in age I still enjoyed his company with all the wonderful time with the youths of Ipoh. One thing I remember well is the striking statement he made that he fell in love with Ipoh Bahais because were so easy-going and down to earth. He even said that he would like to live and serve in Ipoh. On the two occasions I met him in Ipoh, he mentioned the same desire to be in Ipoh

    After that he was away as a pioneer in Cambodia and I did not meet him anymore except that I used to get great news of the great services he was rendering the Cause in that pioneering field. We were communicating only through Facebook messenger and WhatsApp. They were mostly exchanges of humor and laughter. While running a budget hotel in Seam Reap in Cambodia he used to create small recipes and used to ask me if they were nice. He always request to visit him and work with him in his budget hotel. I wanted to but at that time I was taking care of my aged mother, and so I could not go. But I did visit the Cambodia Bahai Temple. Apparently he was there too during my visit, Since we were there only for one night I did not get the chance to meet him. We had to get back the next day to Malaysia.

    To me Mehran was like his father in many ways, like father like son as people say. He was a luminous star was born out of a greater star

    Gurubalan JF Kennedy
    Ipoh
    Malaysia

  15. I met Mehran on an overland trip from China to Thailand in February 1999. We passed through Cambodia. I was 19. I remember one episode which stayed with me forever and I still mention it today in various meetings. I was talking and at some point I wanted to say something about someone – I don’t remember whom – and suddenly Mehran stopped me, saying “Are you going to backbite now? Because if you are planning to, please stop as it will hurt my soul.” He said it in such a way that I did not feel bad or judged but at the same time it left an enduring impression on me.

    Rahim Mazlum
    Switzerland

  16. Gone too soon!

    Mehran was too good for this world. When I remember him from our childhood days I remember a happy funny guy. God bless his radiant soul rejoicing with his dear father and other loved ones in the Abha Kingdom.

    Chitra Thevar
    Seremban
    Malaysia

  17. Dear Soheil,

    I was moved to tears reading the recollections of the life of the late dear Mehran. You have very beautifully captured all the salient points of his sacrificial life. Mehran’s life is an example to all of us in the unassuming way he served the Faith with such love and dedication but quietly. It is indeed beyond imagination how despite all the difficulties he faced, Mehran never wavered even for a moment to offer his help to anyone who needed his help. May the Blessed Beauty richly bless his soul in the next world.

    Sam Appalasami
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  18. Mehran arrived in Phnom Penh Cambodia sometime after the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly. I was thrilled to meet him and welcomed him into this country of great receptivity. I did share with him the sentiment of his late father ex-counselor Inbum Chinniah.

    Inbum and I were close friends and while spending 9 days together in Penang Hill attending 9 Day institute (1973) by Jenabe Caldwell Inbum and I used to spend some pleasant moments together he expressed his one deep wish to see his children attracted to our beloved Faith and dedicate their services for its growth and development. When I mentioned this to Mehran I saw a sudden illumination in his face.

    Faithful to his commitment to be an exemplary pioneer one of the first things he mastered was the Khmer Language. He became so through with spoken Kherem he was as good as a native. This skill steered him through the thick and thin of bonding in love and fellowship with the Khmers of all backgrounds.

    He was always with a jovial and witty nature in his expressions and relationships. He was also down to earth in whatever he did. I remember in the early years of his settling down with his family in Phnom Penh, he used to hold children’s classes in his house after the dawn prayers . Almost all the children in his neighborhood attended this event.

    He was deeply touched by the deprivation and plight which Cambodians faced as a result of the war-torn days of Pol Pot etc. He used to share with me his deep feelings for them and his sorrow for what they had gone through; always embracing them with understanding and comforting and helping them in everywhere possible. He had sufficient time and place in his heart for any Cambodian who happen to be in touch with him.

    Countless are the number of Cambodians who learned of the Faith from him. They would all be in tears when this message of his passing away reaches them.

    I saw Mehran, not as a preacher of many principles but rather a demonstrator of how happy one can be in living the Bahai life and sharing that happiness with others

    I left Cambodia in 1992 and lost touch with him until I met him again in my second pioneering in July 2016.

    By this time, he had served our beloved faith in various capacities as member of LSA, NSA, and Auxiliary Board Member as well as a Trustee of Huququllah I also learned that he represented Cambodia in funeral service held in the Holy Land for beloved Amatul Baha Ruhyyih Khanum.
    For about two years while I settled in Phnom Penh he was always there to help me in whatever way I needed his assistance. My association was limited as he moved to Siem Reap to run his business.

    He is truly an example of how every son should follow the heroic example of his father.

    Dr Joseph Swaminathan
    Mentakab
    Pahang
    Malaysia

  19. Dear Soheil,

    Well, Mehran Chinniah’s unofficial Khmer name was Pheakdeypheap Soviratnakmonypheap as he calls himself during Zoom classes. Pheakdeypheap means “Loyalty”, whereas the second name doesn’t represent any real meaning – but only a combination of Khmer words! Mehran lived by his name and was very loyal to everyone who crossed his path. He’s good in keeping secrets of others, and one can trust him to the core.

    As I had mentioned at several meetings, Mehran was not only a great friend to us, but he was a family, and the other ‘father figure’ to my children. He’s a brother from another mother who had spent more time with my children Afshin, Abhà and Anisha compared to myself. He promised to look after my children when I was away in Sudan due to work, and he kept his promise throughout. His animated character still lingers so strongly within our hearts, mind, and soul. I don’t mind repeating my statement over Mehran – perhaps that I had underestimated his spiritual power especially after his passing. His presence was so strong – so very strong that I was weakened to the core. I was then away at the first Local Bahá’í House of Worship of Kenya when I had received the distress call from my wife Ramani. I prayed so much to have a glance of him at least in my dreams! Only after seven months, on 30 March 2022, I managed to see and talk to him. We were both reading a passage from the Ruhi book. What a relieve, I felt then. Thanks, macha!

    Once he had forgetfully left his wallet bulged with his entire salary for the month on the rooftop of his dark green Toyota Corolla outside of his apartment for several hours. He didn’t even realise that his wallet was not with him. The security guard who knew Mehran and his kindness, eventually brought it back without touching a single money out of his wallet! Mehran was a guy who could easily turn even a stranger or an enemy into a great friend. He was so gifted with such faculty or charm, I would say!

    My wife Ramani related an incident involving Mehran and a rude politician. The later dented Mehran’s car at the parking lot; and witnessed by the security guard on duty. The politician sternly warned him not to divulge it to the owner. The security guard who has known Mehran as a loving, kind and justifiable person can’t afford to keep quiet. He divulged it to Mehran and begged him not to use his name fearing for his safety. Mehran decided to visit the politician not to claim anything over his dented car but to seek justice for his security guard friend. He went twice to the house but was not entertained at all—but was rudely turned back. The third time, after a thoughtful prayer he went to meet the politician. This time, he managed to take him out for coffee nearby. It was during the conversation at the coffee shop that the politician had voluntarily mentioned what he had done to Mehran’s car. He felt sorry for his unreasonable action and promised to repair his car. Anyhow, Mehran had politely refused his offer but urged him to apologies to the security guard and show him respect for his job. The politician had eventually apologized to the security guard by saying he was drunk the night of the incident—after which he handed over with a friendly gesture an extra cup of iced-coffee Mehran had already bought for that purpose. At last, a rude politician turned humble and taught a lesson!! My wife said, Mehran couldn’t believe what he had done that day. He thanked the Blessed Beauty for His spiritual guidance and courage. He didn’t feel a bit of fear in his heart. She continued, “you must have witnessed the happiness and the light on Mehran’s face that day.” How amazing you are, Mehran. My wife also shared the moments when both Mehran and she served in the Local Assembly of Phnom Penh—where the meetings were full of laughter and animated in nature.

    He was our information center, walking and talking dictionary – though we consider him bad at showing directions! He knew every new place in town from massage parlors, eat-outs, hotels, cafes! He was indeed a great marketing manager for people. My family had spent beautiful moments eating out, massage, watching movies, as well as carrying out Bahá’í activities with Mehran. We used to live along the same street and our residence are only a walking distance. My wife Ramani reckons him as the closest male friend she had ever had and there will be no one like him ever again! At home he call her ‘Akka’ (elder sister), when with the non-believer, she’s his ‘sister-in law’ but when mingle among the Bahá’ís, she’s Ramani. I wondered why? I should have asked him, but I never did! Mehran loves her cooking and there was always food for him. His favourite cuisine including hot and spicy chicken / beef / pork curry, mixed green vegetable curry, rasam (Indian sour soup), sweet and sour fish sambal, fried noodle with lots of chicken, ikan bilis sambal among others. Above all he must have a good and hot Teh Tarik! We love watching him eating – with all kinds of noise, stories, and jokes. He goes, “Wow, akka, ‘Shockalingam’ lah!” One thing with Mehran, he was never penny-pinching when comes to food and massage. He was a great food lover. He was more of a Chinese than an Indian! ‘Chinese live to eat, and Indians eat to live!’ His refrigerator was always full of food, chocolates, titbits, fruits, juices and more. He doesn’t starve even when he’s sick. He would feed anyone as though they’ve never eaten before! He was so unbelievable.

    Our daughter Anisha says that Uncle Mehran is like ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. She quoted to say, “Let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path”, and that Uncle Mehran was all about. Prior to Mehran’s passing, he was tutoring a group of children Ruhi book 4 over Zoom including my daughter Anisha. She was known as “Kethepheak”, a Khmer name he had given her. So much so Anisha was hooked to the name and loved it when Mehran calls her by it. One day when I was home on leave, she suggested if she could change her given name to Kethepheak instead! I felt really stunned with her request – she was so willing to have her given name changed for the love of Uncle Mehran. For a while I thought, ‘What have you done, Mehran?’ I called him up to find out what he had done to her – Mehran laughed out so frantically that I ended up laughing with him too!!

    He loved his siblings, mother and Letchimi akka so much – and spoke highly about their sacrifices and achievements. You must see how excited he was whenever his siblings planned to visit him in Cambodia. He would run around like a chicken without head and make all necessary arrangements for their arrival. Sometimes he overreacts – saying ‘my brothers and sister cannot stay in cheap hotel lah’, ha ha ha! He spoke so much about them and admired them all the time!

    Towards mid-June 2021, my wife expressed her happiness when our sons Afshin and Abha together with her studying Ruhi book 8.1 with Mehran every morning. As a tutor, he would give a lot of examples and asked them many questions to clarify issues under discussion. Our son Abha feels privileged to have attended Mehran’s funeral in Siem Reap. His favourite white shirt was stained with his uncle’s blood/body fluid leaked from the coffer. In the Khmer culture, wearing a blood-stained shirt of a dead person is considered bad luck. One must destroy it and Abha was asked to do the same. But he fought to say that his uncle’s blood was his own blood. As a father, you can imagine how happy was I to hear that remark. Though our children call him ‘Uncle’, he was truly the other ‘father figure’ to them.

    Now that we have his personal effects shipped from Siem Reap for safekeeping, we feel blessed once again to have part of him with us! Mehran is a household name! He’s so dearly missed by everyone in our family just like many others out there. It is still so hard for us to accept that he’s no longer around, but we are truly happy to know that he is in the happiest place ever—the eternal realms of God with all those stalwarts of the Faith. We love you Mehran and you are always in our thoughts and prayers.

    Love Always,
    Anisha Abha, Afshin, Ramani and Vela
    Phnom Penh

  20. An angel – that is what Mehran is. One so humble, so loving, so sacrificing, so faithful, and so in love with his Beloved. Mehran is simply unmatched in his service to a Cause he loved so much. His compassion for the people of Cambodia, his unparallel services to the Cause in that potential land, his infectious smile, jolly chatters, and humorous jokes, and not the least his outstanding pleasantness and uncomplaining nature – these touched and inspired the hearts of all who come into contact with him. These are my lasting impression of so remarkable and illustrious a personage that I cannot help but, with tears in my eyes, bowed in awe and salutations, and have no doubt as to the honors and glories he will receive from his Lord in the Abha Paradise.

    Fare thee well, dear Mehran, and I pray that when the time comes, we will meet again in the world beyond to bask in each other’s company with all those dear angelic pioneers I have come to love, admire and respect for all your sacrifices in service to the Lord of Hosts.

    Frankie Ang
    Kuching
    Sarawak
    Malaysia

  21. My dear Mani, Thank you so much for publishing the story about my youngest son Mehran that was written by Soheil. I just cannot think of him at any time, I will just cry. Whenever he came back from Cambodia for a short visit, he would bring back lots of gifts for the family and friends. I know he had no money, but he would always pass some money to me and my helper Letchimi. Mehran was very generous and kind. But the foremost thought in his heart was giving the Bahai Teachings to everyone. He always asked me to go round my nearby Apartment Units and share the Ruhi teachings with my neighbours.

    I just cannot describe what a wonderful person Mehran was. It pains so much when I think of Mehran!

    Lily Chinniah
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  22. Truly a great loss for the Cambodian community to lose such a selfless, self-sacrificing and dedicated worker for the Cause like Mehran. From the accolades shared at his memorial service, I recognize what a great soul dear Mehran was. He will forever be remembered by the Bahais in Cambodia. Mehran will certainly be richly rewarded and gathered together with the angels in the Abha Kingdom.

    Sam Appalasami
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

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