Thirsty Sands (Part 10)


Thirsty Sands (Part 10)

Jafar Rabiei

Design: Ali Vaziri

First published in 1991

Publishing House, Islamic Propagation Organization

Printed at the Aryan

I called Mahdi and asked: “Did the Red Cross register my name?” He said: “yes”. I asked: “who translated my words for them?” He answered: “I myself.” I further asked: “what did you say about my relationship in the army?” Laughingly, Mahdi replied: “you told me you are an IRGC member, but I rendered it for them saying that you are a member of the mobilization (Basig) force. Remember not to make such a mistake any longer.”

A few days later the Red Cross officials came again to register the names of new POWs, if any. The Iraqis had already told them of the martyrdom of that combatant. The Cross officials proceeded to inquire us on this. Mahdi spoke for us. The Red Cross people were surprised and said: “your remarks are a hundred percent in contradiction to those of the Iraqi officials. The Iraqis had said they did everything they could to save the man but failed. They have even called you as witness to their claims.” Mahdi loudly told our friends about the issue and asked if any one endorsed the claims laid by the Iraqis should raise his hand. All of our combatants loudly protested against the Iraqi version. The Red Cross members had remained stupefied and wrote down a few things and left.

About ten days elapsed since my coming to the hospital. During this time I was unaware of the condition of my hands and feet because during all this time they were bandaged. One night about 12 P.M. the guard opened the door, and two people entered the hall; they looked the boys up and down. Of course, most of the boys were asleep except me and Mahdi who were chatting and reminiscing the days we were at warfronts. At first I thought they were something. When they came forward    I noticed on was about 20 and the other about 40 years old; both carried wireless sets. With some attention to their appearances I immediately changed my mind. They were night guards on duty in the hospital compound. They came to our bed and greeted us. We were very surprised and replied to their greetings. The elder man took a chocolate out of his pocked and offered if to us. First, we refused to take it, but accepted it with their insistence. They asked us of the date of our captivity and we replied them. After some miscellaneous questions he asked, “Do you think the people of Iraq arc Muslims?” we answered: “yes”. He said: “why in Iran is it said that the Iraqis arc unbelievers?”, we were amazed. Mahdi in response said, “Never have we heard such remarks in Iran, and there is not at all any talk of this nature.” That Iraqi said: “But our press. T.V. and radio constantly air this.” Mahdi quickly answered. “They lie. The question is not like this. It is in other ways.” The Iraqi asked: “what is it like?” Mahdi was hesitant to whether or not answer this question. After a pause he replied: “Iranians do not consider Iraqi people to be unbelievers.” The Iraqi asked: “why!” Mahdi said: “Because Imam Khomeini has said so.” The Iraqi was taken aback with this clear tone and turned towards me and asked how I was and I said I was fine. He asked me whether I was happy that I had been taken prisoner. I said: “no”. He asked me the reason. I just shook my head without answering him. He asked, “If you are released to return to Iran, will you return again to the fronts and fight the Iraqis?” when he heard my answer in the affirmative, he asked for the reason. I said: “Because I believe in the aim for which I came to the front and as long as this belief and aim exist for me, I will never cease to come to the front even if need a thousand times.”

He asked: “what is this belief and aim?” I replied, “that your forces are aggressors and should be punished for their aggression.”

At this moment his wireless sounded. After a short talk over the wireless set he said good-bye to us and left. In those conditions, because of lacking in experience we were happy indeed that we had given such answers. But the problems rising later in this connection showed that silence was the best answer to the enemy at a time when there was no need for explicit expression of beliefs. Of course, such talks happened for many of our friends each of whom dealt with them in a different way and with a different reply. For instance some openly mentioned the name of Saddam and told the Iraqis that he was responsible for all these crimes. The Iraqis also reacted differently. Some would remain silent and some support Saddam by adding to the pains of our brothers by attending even more roughly to their wounds.

One morning the doctor came to look at us and ordered that the dressings of my hand be opened. Up to that moment I did not know actually in what state my hands were and only felt there were only some mild injuries. But when they opened my dressing I realized that fingers of both of my hands were cut off. I did not expect this. I deeply went into reflection. The man dressing my wounds came to realize the change in my state and asked: “Are you sad that your fingers have been cut?” I quickly concentrated and replied: “No!”

Surprisingly he said: “why?” I said: “I had come to warfronts to offer my life but God only accepted this much. I am also (content) with what God has ordained for me.” It was clear from his face that it was difficult or impossible for him to digest and analyze this issue; he shook his hand and continued with cleaning the wounds.

It was 14th of Esfand when they prepared me and three others for being transferred to the camp. Since the atmosphere of the camp was not known to me I was not interested to go there. Of course, I had heard about the situation of the camp. The camp was meant to hold the POWs in groups; and I had also heard that Iraqis there tortured the prisoners.

At that time I was recalling my memories of the hospital. A memory which had preoccupied my mind was about a combatant whose bed was laid at the corner of the hospital’s hall. He had been struck by explosion waves and had forgotten everything.

He could not speak, but the spirited Quranic verse: “we worship you and we obey you”, flew constantly from his tongue. He had not been able to say his name to be registered anywhere. Sonic days later when I was transferred to the camp I heard he was martyred due to severe explosion waves. I was perplexed. Truly, what wisdom does lie in the fact that a man may forget everything except for the Quranic verse, “we worship you and we obey you?”

I also recalled that friend of mine from Isfahan. Due to intense injuries drinking of water was very dangerous to him, but the Iraqis brought him water and he was encouraged to drink it because of long prohibition lo take water, after drinking the water it did not take long when he joined the rank of martyrs.

Numerous memories crossed my mind, although a lapse of only three week was very short for having many memories. However, in the course of the war the Iraqis had succeeded in overflowing every moment of the life a captive with bitter memories by harassing and torturing him and his fellow combatants.

To be continued …

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