Proximity in a Strange Land - 1

Amin Kiani
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi

2020-11-17


On March/April 2019, a precipitation system in two waves from 25 to 29 March and also from 31 March to 2 April, caused floods and damage in cities of Lorestan. In these rainfalls, tolls such as landslide and submerging parts of Dorud, Khorramabad, Mamolan and Poldokhtar cities were reported. Following flood in these areas, in addition to Housing Foundation of Islamic Revolution, Iranian Army (Artesh) and IRGC, some people also in the form of jihadi groups were sent to Lorestan to help the victims. What you read below is the first part of narration of one of the jihadi forces that was present and active in this area for a few days.

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1.

It was Friday noon and I was bored. From the morning, I called any of my friends they were either off or unavailable. After about four hours, a friend answered the phone. After the greeting, he said: "Amin, my cell phone battery charge is ending, tell me quickly!"

- I want to go to Poldokhtar but I do not have any car.

- The guys of Doroud want to go. I coordinate with them.

Javad, who was one of the guys of Doroud, called. We coordinated and it was supposed I would wait for them at the entrance of Khorramabad in front of Kamalvand highway patrol at 2 p.m. They arrived at the 2 o’clock. After a brief greeting with Javad's companion, we headed in a Peugeot Pickup Truck. Javad was a polite and very good guy. He looked rough and hardworking. At the very early he called his wife, I found out that he was married and after hanging up, he said he also have a little daughter. The road from Khorramabad to Poldokhtar was closed. We went from beltway to Pol-e Zal Freeway. Freeway turnpike did not get toll from aid and relief cars, so they didn’t get any toll from us. I became friend with Javad very soon. I asked, "The head (referring to the car) is for you?" He replied, "Yes." The Peugeot had been loaded up in such a way that in some point mudguard hit the tire. Next to hand brake, gear and dashboard were full of cakes, oranges and kiwis. We both silently looked at the front.

Javad looked at the dashboard and said, "If you open the dashboard, your pressure raises!" surprisingly I opened the dashboard, a host of Hajjis of Abdollah kind (refer to Haj Abdollah Chocolate) huddled.

I poured two cups of tea of the flask in front of my leg and we talked about everything. I took my eyes off the ampere and said to Javad:

- Javad do you regard the ampere, pal? It’s on the red line.

- Yes, I’m careful. I'm myself worried. I have never put so much pressure on it.

After a short pause, he inhaled and exhaled and said that "But no problem." When we reached Poldokhtar, we swallowed almost all the Hajjis and saluted pure soul of Abdollah. The sun was taking last breaths of that day, that structure and majesty of the city showed us from afar. The line AJA (army) personnel carriers, IRGC loaders, NAJA vehicles were very impressive. I did not expect the city to look like this at all. It was like a journey into depths of contemporary history; about 35 years ago in geography of Khorramshahr! So far, I didn’t saw any sign of destruction, but the streets had worn sneakers dull of dirt and mud; many military forces had rushed to the city; AJA, IRGC, NAJA, Special Unit of NAJA and many jihadist forces. Without stopping in the city, we went straight to Amin Hall. The darkness of the air had overcome its lightness when we reached the hall. It was a clean and tidy hall for weddings and ceremonies. At the wall of the hall, it was written Dalvand in cursive and yellow color lower than name Amin. The hall was probably owned by Amin Dalvand. We got out of the car. I walked away to see an acquaintance.

I went into courtyard of the hall. The chairs were arranged next to tables and floor of the hall was covered with cream carpet. I saw Vahid Ghahremani. As always, he greeted kindly, warmly, smilingly and friendly. He said that they come with Sajjad by a private car. Long, hammer like beards with curly hair on the ears and grizzly were a lasting feature of Vahid and Sajjad's head and face. Sajjad was Vahid's older brother. In a way, we were considered guys of the same neighborhood. We prayed and had dinner. We were lying down and talking. Vahid would not let anyone to talk. He talked for forty-five minutes unremittingly. I feigned sleep in the middle of Vahid talks.

In the morning, we went out of the hall with Vahid Ghahremani and some of the guys. Before that, we took from headquarter warehouse shovel and squeegee. The warehouseman recorded our name and surname. We signed the sheet. We left the hall and went by a blue Nissan toward the damaged neighborhood. I did not know Poldokhtar and its neighborhoods. We turned round a square, passed a wide street and turned it before reaching the end. After crossing a bridge and passing two squares, we turned right. At the end of the third alley, Nissan stopped. Everyone got off. I got off too. I looked around in astonishment and stared.

-Tut, tut, guy! Vahid, why here is in this way?

He frowned with his thick eyebrows and laughed with his narrow and long lips and said:

- I think there had been a flood!

The houses were in mud. The flood whip was on their defenseless bodies. If they had foot, they would have run away and would not have stood in the path of the flood. Runnels, sidewalks, streets, alleys, and courtyards were all uniformly covered with mud and were flush. I did not know the flood well, but I did not think it would be so brutal.

- Vahid, how many months does it take to sweep mud in the city do you think, pal?

- I do not know, but it certainly takes a long time. How long do you think it will take?

- I do not know, maybe six months. Maybe more!

Together with five friends, we walked down an alley on Resalat Street near Kashkan River. A middle-aged man with a fistful mustache and two palms of beard was sweeping mud and water with his wife with a rickety squeegee. Vahid Ghahremani said hello. They answered. Neither they said help us nor we got permission. Mohsen took the squeegee from the man and leaned it to the yard wall.

- Sir, please stand aside, we came to clean it.

The man was tickled pink, shook his muddy beard and said:

- I also help.

- No, you please stand aside, we will deliver it clean. Be comfortable, we will make it fully clean.

The man looked at his wife. They both laughed and thanked.

We were divided into two groups; groups of pointed shovel men and beardy squeegee men. The shovel men pointed the squeegee men, saying, "You are total waste." Number of shovel men exceeded squeegee men; five to two. We, shovel men, started sweeping mud. Reza, who had squeegee with Hamid, was in the minority, ran into the alley and brought with himself two skillful squeegee men from the flood of jihadists. One of them was Sayyid Javad, a theologian from Tehran, and the other was Mehdi, a student from Tehran. The shovel men were supposed to sweep mud, and squeegee men clean specialized behind them, and squeegee what was left of shovels. Sweeping mud took about two and a half hours. During this time, we had to go back every time we did shovel and answer thanks of the landlord. They tired us as thanked us very much. The work was finished, and because the water was cut off, a thin layer of mud had been congealed on the mosaics. We said goodbye and left the house with convoy of the landlord. There was an interesting view inside the alley. Door of most of the houses were open, and jihadist guys, like ants and grasshoppers, came out of the houses and entered them. "Oh God, encounter us a cool family that needs a lot of help," said Mohsen.

Less than a minute after Mohsen's prayer, it was met; in its highest category. The two pairs of a house door were open, and a young man of my own age was sweeping mud from their yard with a plastic dustpan. We said hello and went inside. He came forward happily and greeted us. Without further talking, we started sweeping mud. The young man thanked us very much and relentlessly said "you shamed me, excuse me, and may God bless you." Mohsen engaged a few beautiful muddy flowerpots that had been overturned. He placed regularly the planters on short roof of the toilet. Without any coordination, the group found its strategy. Shovel men were forerunner and squeegee men were rear guard. The young man himself also took us shovel or squeegee and worked. A shutter lock was hanged on the living room. Vahid asked:

- Open the living room, should there be full of muddy too?

After thanking, the boy said:

- Thank you. There isn’t much dirt. We ourselves will clean it later.

Vahid insisted and he opened the door. The breath was bated! "Oh God, why is this way here!" What had happened for the house due to floods, mud and dirt! It was hard to believe. Traces of mud water left on the wall scratched a line on the wall in about two meters height. We insisted and the landlord rejected. Eventually we overcame him, we were eight and he was one. It was supposed we give the house clean. In an expert view, at first it was estimated that we need wheelbarrow. Usually there for two Nissans one wheelbarrow was brought from the headquarters. Mohsen went into the alley and returned with an unused wheelbarrow. Four 12 meters carpets with five hundred combs and a density of 1200 had laid in floor of the living room. Between wadding and folding, folding was voted, and we folded all four carpets into squares. We parked wheelbarrow next to the first carpet. Nine of us exerted force, but the carpet did not think of lifting up! I said jokingly, "It feigned sleep and will not get up easily!" We tried hardly for the second time; the carpet was defeated by the guys. We hardly threw the heavy body and corpse of the carpet on wheelbarrow, but wheelbarrow was overturned. We tried for the third time. Mohsen became in charge of the wheelbarrow and held tight the wheelbarrow handle bar so that it would not be "overturned" this time. Hamid also warned incessantly: "the guys, when you exert force and lift, do not bend your back. Sit on your leg and get up." Mohsen, who had held the wheelbarrow handle bars firmly in his hands, said (laughingly): "Hamid, you have once competed in a powerlifting competition and became third out of three people, cut it off.” It was lifted by nine people hardly, now that we became eight. But this time we lifted it easier than the last time and threw it on the wheelbarrow. It turned out two former times one or maybe two of the kids; Yes...

Mohsen moved and we eight people stared at the second carpet. In less than a minute, Mohsen came back with an empty wheelbarrow and grumbled sadly, and jokingly said like Strongest Men: "taking wheelbarrow is not my item!" We went to the terrace and saw that "yes", the wheelbarrow had been fallen from a 30 cm height of the terrace and its wheel had been broken, overturned with one leg in the air and stared at us. After bringing the new wheelbarrow and unloading the carpets and moving them out of the house, we went to the kitchen. We put all the kitchen utensils and two of their rooms in the corner of living room and squeegeed underneath them. The mud in the kitchen had become like glue and could not be cleaned at all. Mohsen wised up and brought a plastic lota of mud water of the alley and poured it on the kitchen floor. A few plastic lotas of mud water softened the sticky and dried mud of the kitchen floor. While moving the furniture, Mohsen called the landlord. He took a handful of cashews out of the cabinet and looked at the landlord:

I do not care why you did not collect the LCD and computer and other things, no problem, but honestly, it is not a pity that you left these cashews here!

The landlord laughed and said nothing. Mohsen shouted jokingly:

- Oh God, one kilo is two hundred thousand Toman!

We all laughed and Mohsen did not take his eyes off the almonds with regret.

***

At night, tired and exhausted, we lay on the floor of the hall. A short middle-aged man stood in front of the hall. He shouted in his shrill and kind voice:

- Dear guys, sit tight, we want to spread out tablecloth.

We sat tight. They spread out a disposable tablecloth; we all sat around the tablecloth. Dinner was Pulau (lentil & rice). We were eati