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Bodies of conjoined twin sisters flown to Iran for separate burial

If not in life, but in death you lie apart
Poem by Babak Mozafarian

To Laleh & Ladan

What holds the mirror now, but a frozen stare
in place of thy sister's glowing face
A torch is held high to thy mute and deaf god
and a grieved, grievous nation
holds a mirror to the sky
and voices conjoined cry to heavens
Why? Why? Why?

Bodies of conjoined twin sisters flown in for separate burial

Conjoined twin sisters Laleh and Ladan Bijani could have celebrated their homecoming if their dreams of living separately had come true, but this realized the other way round as they were flown in Thursday in two caskets for burial, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Dozens of friends, relatives and well-wishers, among millions of Iranians who felt devastated on hearing news of their deaths after a marathon separation surgery went awry in Singapore, were on hand at Mehrabad airport to receive them and dedicate their blessings.

A poignant serenade was played by a police music band as the coffins were carrid into an ambulance to take them into coroner's office for registration.

Head of State Welfare Organization Mohammad-Reza Rahchamani and MP Shahrbanu Amani, were among the mourners, while announcements were made that the bodies would be taken to a grand mosque in Tehran for mourning among remains of 300 soldiers of 1980-1988 Iraqi imposed war, retrieved recently.

Several public places, including a park and a residential complex, were announced as have been named after Laleh and Ladan. Laleh means tulip in Persian and Ladan another kind of flower which grows in mountains.

"We were confident that Laleh and Ladan would not survive after the operation and we did not agree with the trip," Rahchamani said.

"However, Laleh and Ladan's trip to Singapore was made on their own will and since there existed a high chance of death for one of the two, the Ministry of Health and (State) Welfare Organization did not support (the decision)," he added.

The bodies will then be flown to the southern city of Shiraz on Friday for burial at their birthplace at the village of Lohrasb.

The sisters were born in Tehran fused at the head and were brought up by adoptive parents west of Tehran in Karaj. Many Iranian knew the twins since their birth and many others were mesmerized by the accounts carried occasionally by the media about their lives.

They were 29 at the time of their deaths.

As the news emerged about the twins' determination to go through the risky operation, the whole nation sat up and held its breath, as did the rest of the world, and several Iranian leaders offered prayers and hoped the operation would go well.

"Both of us have started on this journey together and we hope that the operation will finally bring us to the end of this difficult path and we will begin our new and wonderful lives as two separate persons," Lalel and Ladan said in a letter, carried by most Iranian papers, before the operation.

Iranians closely followed up the progress of the operation through the media and succumbed to shock when news broke that Ladan, who dreamt of becoming a lawyer after the separation, had died because of massive blood loss.

Ninety minutes later Laleh's death was announced and then came messages of grief and condolences. "Surrendering to divine fate is a sign of strong faith, profound knowledge and stable will. What happened to Laleh and Ladan is one page in the great book of destiny," President Mohammad Khatami said.

His office had earlier announced to cover the cost of the surgery operation, which was estimated at about US$300,000 and thought to be met through charity donations.

Raffles Hospital, where the twins were operated, had underwritten the twins' stay at the hospital as well as the previous costs of tests. Doctors also waived their professional fees for the surgery.

Hearts are still aching

Salaam to all at payvand,

Dear staff, it has been a very difficult past couple of days. The untimely departure of the two flowers, Laleh and Ladan, has saddened me greatly. Not only because they were Iranians, but because they were two innocent little flowers from the soil of this planet, two human beings from this earth. My heart is aching. They came to this world joined, lived that way, but left separated in separate coffins. My heart is truly aching.

Masoud Talachian

... Payvand News - 7/10/03 ... --

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