SABAH (17)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2020-07-07


SABAH (17)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019


 

Chapter Four

The whispers about formation of Khorramshahr corps had come to life since a while ago. The core of Khorramshahr corps was formed with individuals like Mohammad Jahan Ara and Abdol Reza Mousavi. The headquarters of corps was in a building in Jomhouri Street or ex-Shahpour. Jahan Ara became the commander of Khorramshahr corps and Abdol Reza was his deputy. Many youngsters in Khorramshahr joined the corps. My brother Ali was one of them. The members of the corps went to Ahwaz[1] to undergo military trainings in Gulf base and were trained by an individual called Ali Ghayur Asli.

When Ali returned from training, his face had changed a lot; he had skin burns and lost weight. He said that they receive hard and diverse training under the sun, the whole day in the mountains and deserts; trainings associated with hunger and thirst. He remembered that once when they had a very difficult training in the heat of the sun and were stricken by heat and thirsty, they had come across a number of wild watermelons. Ali said that they picked the watermelons up and hit it to the ground and dive into them to relief their thirst. They had passed a hard half-ranger course; which took one and a half months. Ali spoke very highly of brother Ghayur Asli; of his capabilities and his morals and loyalty. He had behaved in a manner to make every one love and respect him.

It was April 17th; Army day. That year we were supposed to gather in Jame mosque and march towards the Navy base and give flowers to the army. Not long had passed from the victory of the Revolution, when the army joined it. By doing so, we wanted to remind them that we are happy to have them by our side and the Revolution. A huge population had gathered in front of the mosque that day. I was walking in Imam Khomeini Avenue with my mom, Shahnaz, Fouziyeh, Saleheh, Ferdows and Elham that a heavy rain started. In ten minutes streams of water were running down the street. Although we were used to the thunder rains of Khuzestan, but this time it was heavier and our feet were soaked in water up to couple of centimeters above the ankle. We did not know what to do. We waited in the pavement for the rain to stop but it didn’t. People were complaining. We had to return home under the rain and thunder storm.

On our way home, we heard from many people that there with that heavy rain there is the risk of a flood. We had not seen flood before. I was praying that nothing bad would happen; since I knew that most of the houses in our neighborhood were made of mud and cannot stand the heavy rain.

My father had planted many flowers in our yard for the Iranian New Year. When we entered the house, there were no signs of those beautiful flowers. The rain had washed away our plants. Our house was standing on a base with a height of two meters otherwise, our whole life would have been gone. I was so anxious. I felt sorry for those whose houses was been destroyed by flood.

The next day, we were talking about the flood at school. The students had heard that the flood has caused severe damages in rural houses around Khorramshahr. We went to Mr. Mohammadi along with Amireh and one of our classmates. Mr. Mohammadi was Amireh’s uncle and one of the activists of Khorramshahr Teachers Islamic Association. We collected some money from our friends and families and went to Bazar with Mr. Mohammadi. We bought some rice, tea and cooking oil, put them in a pick-up, and set out to flood-stricken villages.

We went to Abareh village. It was located between Haffar and Abadan. The village was located in a downhill. Hence, was flooded with water. When we were walking in the village, the water could reach higher than our ankles. Some of the houses were not in living condition any more. Most of the people had gathered in Hoseyniyeh of the village. Hoseyniyeh was built on higher grounds and was in a better condition.

The situation of flood-stricken people was disastrous. They were covered in mud and the children were crying and shouting. Some of the women were also crying. These poor people had lost their living in a matter of a few hours. The flood had ruined their agricultural lands and had taken their livestock. Although our Jihadist action, and that of the Revolution Advocacy Forces, the Imam Khomeini Committee and the Reconstruction Jihad, which had been established a while ago on the command of Imam, was heartwarming for them but with what we could see, it would take a long time to bring the situation back to normal.

The homeless families were sent to Khorramshahr. They were settled in the Green building, which had seven stories and was supposed to be a hotel. Green building was located in Jomhouri street. During the Revolution, the owner of the hotel fled the country and the hotel was confiscated by the government. Besides the residents of Abareh village, there were other flood-stricken people from Jodeydeh and Shalamcheh villages on the west of Khorramshahr.

Handling the affairs of Khorramshahr flood-stricken people took two, three months. We did everything we could for them; collected money and provided clothes and food supplies and cooking stoves. Once, when I went to visit them, I heard a cow from inside the building! I followed the voice and noticed that one of the flood-stricken families has brought a calf to the sixth floor of the building. I was both surprised and could not help laughing at the same time. I wondered how they had managed to get the calf to the sixth floor. This did not stop with one cow. Other families had brought sheep or goat. Poor people! These animals were all they had and could not have left them behind. When the flood-stricken families returned to their villages, we visited the Green building with some friends. Only God knows what had happened to the building. It was as if the walls had been brought down by picks. They had made fire on the carpet of the floors for cooking! I said: “The poor owner! Who knows what dreams and plans he had for this place. Where is he now to come and see that his hotel is transformed into a stable for the public livestock?!”

In this period, many active members of Khorramshahr joined the Jihad. The Jihad building of Khorramshahr was located in Imam Khomeini Avenue near the Municipality building on the river bank. I went to their offices one day for membership to be able to help the flood-stricken families better. Rooms were designated for specific activities in the building. For example, one room was the Cultural Unit; the other was for health and another for development and construction. I went to cultural unit and expressed my willingness to join. A man, who was responsible for the cultural unit, asked me a few faith questions and asked what kind of cultural activities I can do. I told them that I could teach Quran. He gave me a form. The personal information and abilities form. I filled it in and handed it over to him. He said: “every once in a while, refer to us so that you are dispatched to flood-stricken villages to teach Quran.”

 

To be continued…

 


[1] The Americans working in the Iranian Oil Company before the revolution had built resorts in the Ahwaz settlements suitable to their culture; one of these areas was a massive place along the road of Ahwasz-Mahshahr with nine football and golf courts and was known as the “Golf Base”. Since the base was unknown and was in close proximity to the Ahwaz Airport and was hidden in the heart of mountains and had suitable geographical location, after the revolution it was used to train military forces and upon the onset of war the name changed to “Montazeran Shahadat (Volunteer Martyrs) Base” and was a place to command and lead the south Revolutionary Guard Corps. 



 
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