Sensitive moments recited in “PW”

Shima Donyadar Rostami
Natalie Haghverdian


“PW” written by Shahab Ahmadpour recounts a portion of Shamsollah Shamsini Ghiasvand’s memoir. He is a war captive of the Holy Defense who was the commander of one unit at the time of captivity but since the commander of another unit present in Karbala 2 operation was martyred, he took command of the two units and created confusion in Basiji forces; they took him for the commander of the legion and during his captivity he was considered a high ranking captive which resulted in bitter and sweet stories of captivity in Iraq.

The narrative is in first person. The narrator keeps the audience attached by recounting sensitive and magnificent moments in each chapter.

The first chapter, titled “Couple of days later” is written in one paragraph and these short lines which narrate the life of many captives of the Holy Defense shall be perceived as a suitable choice for the first chapter; “Couple of days later, I put my clothes on and looked at myself in the mirror. I was nothing even slightly like my young self. Nothing looked the same. My face was thin and wrinkled and my sight was weak. I stepped out, my city….my city was a hill of rubble. It was nothing like the day I left.”

From the second chapter, titled “A couple of days ago” the narrator talks about Shamsini Ghiasvand’s family and their life in “Chahartaghi” village of Loshan city in Gilan province. The family was originally Kurd, involved in farming and husbandry. They spoke Kurdish at home and their children went to school to acquire social skills.

In this chapter of “PW”, details of the families migration to Loshan city, his friendship with “Mohammad Bazri” from Zabol who was a student of Political Science in the University of Tehran and his involvement in the revolution in Tehran and other major cities, untimely death of his father and him taking over the responsibility as the head of the family are provided.

In one part in page 18, we read: “Besides school, I frequented in Loshan mosque. I went there to pray and read Quran. In a while I met with Hajagha Soleimani Ashtiani the Imam of the mosque who was said to be exiled. There and later I attended his Quran and Ahkam classes. There were four or five of us. However, since I had some knowledge of the Ahkam, he paid special attention. Then, I had heard from Mr. Soleimani that a number of other clergies are exiled and sent to Rudbar and are known to be “political activists”. Mr. Sadegh Khalkhali and Mr. Mohammad Yazdi. I knew either of them.”

“New Incidents” is the title of the third chapter. Incidents which occurred due to advanced political knowledge of the narrator and further involvement in the political activities of “Mohammad Bazri” which, for the first time, took the narrator to SAVAK[1]. This incident changed his status at school and students kept away.

The short stories are arranged in a manner in this book which keep the audience hooked. The family issues along with political and social upheaval in Loshan city are arranged so closely which makes the reading interesting.

In “New Incidents”, once the narrator speaks of his grandmother’s passing, he recounts the political ambiance of Loshan city. In page 37, we read: “Around Januray-February of 1978, people of Loshan were divided into two groups. A group were supporters of the King and another group were the Revolutionaries. One of those days we arranged a demonstration and started our way towards the city. There were almost a hundred of us. The leader was Hajagha Soleimani. A couple of neighborhood friends that I knew were among the population. Including Ardeshir Zibapour, Mohammad Sadegh Kalayi, Mahmoud Peyravi, Mirzapour, Rasouli, Sadeghi, Naimi and Daliri, etc… we were shouting “Dwon with the King” and “Salute to Khoemini” and moving forward. Because of the outnumbered population they did nothing but it seemed like they were looking for a reason….”

The author, in this chapter, attends to a number of incidents and planning during the Revolution which resulted in its success in Loshan city.

The fourth chapter is titled “…”. This chapter speaks of the Iraq imposed war against Iran and deployment to the fronts. Shamsollah who is now a revolutionary young adult is getting ready to join the forces. He went to the army base in Loshan; he received his ID and was deployed to Kermanshah. In page 50 we read: “Once I arrived in Kermanshah, my first stop was Abuzar Base. I announced myself there and the very next day the military training started. The base belonged to the army, however many forces were trained both inside and outside the base…”

Another key feature of “PW” is the effort of the author to clear ambiguities. The author has made effort to name individuals, people and urban and military locations to help build the knowledge of the audience.

In chapter four which covers almost to the midst of the book. Shamsollah Shamsini’s captivity is also mentioned. In page 114 we read: “They looked Iraqi from afar and from the organized vehicles and equipment I could case that they are Special Forces of the Iraqi army. A roaring sound was getting closer. I looked around and I saw Iraqi choppers rapidly closing in. I shouted: “Get yourselves together, they’re coming! The others were also in shock.”

The fifth chapter is titled “The fifth season of the year”. This chapter covers the days of his captivity by Saddam’s forces which starts from 1986. Physical and psychological tortures, interrogations and small happy incidents are recited here.

In page 189 we read: “The first couple of months, prayer was prohibited. Of course, the Iraqi’s pretended to be religious, but they made life difficult for us when we wanted to pray. We had to pray behind closed doors or under the windows so that they couldn’t see…”

The four remaining chapters titled “Days of 1987”, “Days of 1988”, “Days of 1989” and “Days of 1990” tell the story of the narrator’s captivity in these years.

“Waking up” is the last chapter of “PW”. This chapter recounts the story of return. Public welcome and the moment he sees his wife and child and the responsibilities he was given after release are all recounted in this chapter. In the last paragraph we read: “After all these years, still I suffer the effects of the tortures and beatings. I get exhausted quickly. I get sick quite often. I have to spend two weeks in the hospital every now and then.

Although includsion of pictures by the end of each chapter could help to create a vivid image in the minds of the audience but this book closes with all the documents and pictures provided by the narrator.

Soureh Meh Publication has published 1250 volumes of the book in 322 pages in 2018 which is sold 24 thousand tomans in the market. The book is produced in the Office of Culture and Resistance Studies of the Art Division of Gilan province.


[1] The intelligence service during the King’s regime.

Number of Visits: 308


Full Name:

Introducing the Best Oral History Books of Sacred Defense

According to Iranian Oral History Website, the introduction of best books of active provinces in the field of oral history of sacred defense is based on the review of 100 books published by general offices for the Protection of Works and Publishing of Sacred Defense Values and Irans Islamic Revolutionary Guards (Sepah) throughout country, during years 2017 and 2018.

This Lady Called the "Captive", "Freedman"

As reported by Oral History Website of Iran Behjat Afraz died on January 12, 2019. According to notification provided by the organization in which he worked, "The late was invited by Dr. Seifollah Vahid Dastjerdi, the current head of Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to work as the officer in charge of the bureau for captives and missing of the imposed war. She worked from the beginning of ...
Two hundred and ninety-eighth night of reminiscences

Shrine Defenders like Sacred Defense Warriors

According to Iranian oral history website, Two hundred and ninety eighth night of reminiscences of sacred defense was held at Art Center Andisheh Hall on Thursday, December 27th 2019. Masoud Nouri, Abbas Boostani, Hassan Arabi and Mohsen Safai spoke about their memories of shrine and sacred defense defenders.
Biannual Journal of Oral History

We Have Not Yet Approached a Common Expression in Oral History Practice

Gholamreza Azizi, director of NLAI Research Institute, talked to the Iranian Oral History Website correspondent about some weaknesses that oral history field faces, "books which are published in field of oral history show that we have not still reached a common language in oral history practice and there has not been still a common understanding. The reason for this is that oral history has not yet been accepted as a scientific discipline in universities.