SABAH (93)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2022-01-18


SABAH (93)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019

 


Chapter Twenty Three

Two three days had passed since we had come to Tehran. Fouzieh said that she is supposed to go to camping with her training colleagues in school to perform Jihad tasks. She asked me to go with them. We were supposed to go to Damavand to harvest wheat for some farmers, then go to a building in Firoozeh castle which belonged to one of the court members. The location of this two-day camp was there.  Fouzieh had come to Tehran before me. She cooperated with the Tehran Education and Training Organization. We all went to Damavand; to an area where there was big wheat plots[1].

Since early in the morning, we were busy harvesting together with Jihad members of Tehran. Around noon, all of a sudden my eyes darkened and my body became weak. I just could sit somewhere. A few minutes later, Zohreh didn’t feel well too. The other members laid us on the ground in a corner. One of the members of Tehran Jihad said jokingly: “Are you sure you are fighters? Why did you both pass out?”

He didn’t know how much we had weakened during this period. We were losing all our energy. I never thought that my physical strength had weakened this much. They prepare sweet water for us and gave us a piece of biscuit. They didn’t let us work anymore. We were sitting beside the farm until afternoon and watched them.

We went to Firoozeh castle. The next day we attended a few belief classes. Near sunset we returned home. Our friends stayed with us for a few days and returned to the hospital. But I stayed. I had taken leave from the hospital for one and a half month. I really needed to rest and regain my strength. As I hadn’t taken leave for a long time, they agreed.

Fouzieh was working in one of the schools in Tehran, she suggested me to join her in school. I liked her offer although if I accepted her offer I had to forget about going to Abadan and Taleghani hospital. We went to Office of Education and Training. When I told them about my background as fighter, they liked it. They welcomed my offer to work as physical trainer in a school. They introduced me to a school on the same day. It was the last days of last month of summer and only a few days had remained to the opening of schools. I took the introduction letter to school and started working on the first day of first month of autumn.

My school was in Farahzad. All religion training classes of first, second and third junior school was assigned to me. Our principle was an active woman called Ms. Hassani. When she found out that I am a fighter from Khuzestan, she acted very good and warm.

Although the weather was not cold on the first month of autumn, the school was in an area that got cold sooner than other areas. Every morning I put on lots of clothes under manteaux and a jacket over it. Despite all this, I felt cold at school. When it was twelve o’clock, I couldn’t handle it anymore and wanted to go out from that cold and semi-dark classrooms. A Khuzestani girl belonging to dates and warmth and flat desserts was stuck in an area full of mountains and slop and cold weather. I kept repeating to myself that if tomorrow it snows and the ground is frozen, how can I walk in this slope?! I might fall down; I might ….

Besides the training class, I also taught Persian. My relation with the students was very good. In one of classes, I had a student called Farahzadi who was ADHD. When I entered the class, she walked behind me and by the time I reached my desk, she had done two flips already! The other teachers were really unsatisfied with her. They told that she doesn’t understand anything and is torturing all of us. Her scores were very low. Due to these problems, she was kicked out of the cycle of students. I found out that you cannot tell her “Don’t do it and sit”. I had to make her calm.

I assigned her as the observer of the class. At that time, only those students who had good grades were assigned as observers. While she was assigned, she gained self-confidence. While teaching, I also shared my experiences in the frontline. When I talked, nobody, not even Farahzadi, didn’t take their eyes away from me. On those days, I was really upset about the oppression of the injuries in the hospital.

When I told the students about the patients the injured showed while enduring pain, their eyes filled with tears and cried. They said that we don’t believe that they are so enduring and make no sound despite the wounds they had.

My memories of operation room were more attractive for them. If they could decide, they would ask me to share my memories during the whole class time. We had become so closed. In Farahzad there was an Imam called Imamzadeh Saleh. Sometimes I took the students for pilgrimage and prayer. Sometimes when I complained about the cold weather of Farahzad, they would say: “It even gets worse?! In winter when it snows, the wolves come down the mountain.”

It was the fifth day of first month of autumn; fifth day of school. When I returned from school, I saw that there is a reverberation in Koushk building. Somebody was clapping. Somebody was whistling. I didn’t know what had happened. One of the neighbors was distributing pastry. My mother and neighbors had come into the corridor. I just saw Ms. Houshmand who was kissing my mom and saying: “Ms. Vatan Khah! I can’t believe. Does the siege of Abadan really been broken? This means we can go back to our city, we can go and visit our beloved ones graves?!”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After one and a half year war finally the victory was ours. A while ago Imam had given the order of breaking the siege of Abadan. With God’s will, the order of Imam had materialized. My heart flied to frontline. How I loved to be there with my team members on such a day. If I didn’t have any commitment to school, I would set off for Abadan right at that moment.

Ms. Houshmand was from Abadan and her house was besides the building of Education and training in Abadan. The fifth day of first month of autumn of last year, in the first bombardments of Abadan, her house had been raided and her family members were left under the rubbles. She had seven children. Four boys called Nader, Naser, Nasrollah and Gholam and three girls called Nahid, Nasrin and Nastaran. Nader and Nahid who were married become martyrs in the raid. Nahid was nine months pregnant when she was martyred. The rest of the members of the family were severely injured and after that they become war-stricken.

Ms. Houshman had been harmed so severely in jaw and face that the scar was on her face even a year after the incident. They had all been transferred to a hospital in Shiraz. And from there they had been transferred to Tehran, to Imam Khomeini hospital. Nader and Nahid were buried in Abadan. Six months after the raid, Mr. Houshmand was martyred due to the harms caused by the wave of explosion at his house. After hearing the news of breaking of siege of Abadan, Ms. Houshmand told my mother repeatedly: “Can this happen?! Can I go and visit the graves of my children … Will God make it possible?! My children are estranged there! I couldn’t attend their burial at least I can visit them!”

I was very happy. My joy was double. Once for the breaking of siege of Abadan and the other was the hope to be able to conquer Khorramshahr. Finally a ray of hope was shining on us. Ms. Houshmand shouted with joy. This was the first time I could see people around me joyful after the war. I was flying in the sky out of joy for two days.

It was the morning of seventh day of first month of autumn. I was getting ready for school. I heard someone knocking. I went to the door. It was Mohammad Agha, older son of Mashallah Ashi looking pale.

Mashallah had a shop selling pottage in Khorramshahr and his pottages were perfect. After the war, he and his family had become war-stricken and moved to Koushk building. Mohammad himself was one of the army members of Khorramshahr who had come to visit his family. Right at the moment when I opened the door, he said: “Mohammad Jahan Ara has been martyred!”

I was shocked, confused and stunned; I said: “What are you talking about?! Have shame! The siege of Abadan has been broken two days ago. Now you tell me that Mohammad has been martyred!”

Mohammad said: “I swear to God I am telling the truth! Mohammad has been martyred! We are doomed! We are doomed …” I said: “What are you saying? These words and the words of Hypocrites! How easily you say these things!”

Then, without waiting for his answer, shut the door firmly on his face. My mother said: “Sabbah, who was it?!” I said: “It was Mohammad, son of Mashallah Ashi!” She said: “What did he want at this time of the day?!” I said: “Nothing. He is gone crazy! He has come to our door early in the morning and says that Jahan Ara has been martyred.” My mother said: May God have mercy maybe he is telling the truth!” I said: “No. it is not possible. How could Jahan Ara be suddenly martyred! He is saying nonsense.”

Although I didn’t believe his words but I don’t know why I was feeling terrible. I hadn’t acted nice. I had told him to be ashamed, I had also closed the door on his face, but these reactions were not in my control. My mother was uttering صلوات. She had arranged the breakfast and was pouring tea for me. My father and siblings were still asleep.

Although I was running late, but I decided to listen to the news of the radio at eight in the morning and then go to school. It took so long to strike eight o’clock. The news anchor greeted and the first news that read was; C130 plane belonging to the army of Iran crashed in Tehran Kahrizak area and a few high ranking officials of the country such as Fallahi, Namjoo, Fakouri, Kolahdouz and Jahan Ara had been martyred. As the radio anchor said these officials were flying to Tehran to report the performance of their forces to Imam. Their plane crashed and they all were martyred.

Hearing the news of the martyrdom of Jahan Ara, it was as if somebody hit me in the head by a big hammer. I felt so terrible that I felt that if I had heard the news of martyrdom of Ali in prison, I wouldn’t have been so devastated. Mohammad Jahan Ara was not very old but for the army members of Khorramshahr and defenders of the city, he was like a father. I really didn’t want to believe this news.

 

To be continued …

 


[1] A plot is an equal segment of a big farm.



 
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