SABAH (104)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (104)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019



One of the soldiers said: “No! What are you saying. We are soldiers. Our duty if to defend the country. Our country is our honor. We have zeal towards it.”

The young man said: “You are so naive! What zeal? What honor? They are abusing you with these words!”

I had kept silent until that moment and was just listening. I wanted to hear first and find out to which group he belongs and then answer him properly. The coward had seen two soldiers and was trying to make them hopeless with his non sense words. I turned my head back and said: “How come you defend the public whereas you don’t even know your own public and people?!” He said: “What does this mean?! What do you mean?!” I said: “You are talking about public, but you don’t distinguish Kurd ethnicity from Lor ethnicity. First of all this is a people from Lorestan and not Kurdistan! Secondly who said that this has been sung for public combats?! Listen to the meaning of the poem for a while and then give a speech.” 

He didn’t expect these words from a young girl. He turned red as pomegranate. He said: “What is your business in this?!” I said: “What happened?! Do you expect me to sit silent when you are trying to fill other peoples’ minds with nonsense?! Are you so short-sighted?! When the enemy has attacked the country and city, what should we do? Just sit and do nothing so that they plunder our country! Then your devoted public will come and save desperate people?!” He said: “What are you talking about?! My problem is with this side! Our situation will not improve until the government improves! We don’t have a solid internal government therefore anybody dares to attack our borders!” I said: “Don’t twist your own words. Do you know what reactive means that you want to claim your rights in our reactive government?! Reactiveness and such words are not for us. A reactive person is an individual who wants to return to old times, to back. When have we asked for such a thing?! Do we really want to return to the pre-revolution era and what we were inside?! Do you really thing that we are ready to return to feudalism?! At least think and research about the words you want to use and then talk?!”

He was silent and didn’t reply. The driver and those two soldiers were also silent. They just listened to our talk. Around one hour later, the driver stopped near a restaurant to have lunch. I got out to walk a bit and then go to a corner and eat the lunch that my mother had prepared for me. I was going towards the prayer room when I saw those two soldiers coming towards me. I noticed that they want to say something. I waited for them. They came and said: “Sister! God bless you. You saved us from this man. We were on the verge of believing his words. God sent you to save us from his words. We didn’t know how to answer him.”

I was thankful to God that my words were not useless. After prayers and lunch we got into the car. I noticed that the man is still interested to start a conversation and discuss the previous topics. I said: “People who talk behind their public and system and country have no value in my eyes. When you still don’t understand that when the war is imposed, it is the duty of all citizens to stand and resist in front of the enemy and stop them from touching their water and soil and honor, so it is useless to argue and talk with you?!”

When I said these words, he felt offended and didn’t say a word until Sari.

Starting second year, little by little practical courses and working in hospital started. In practical courses we had the theoretical courses in university and did the practical in Sari Imam Khomeini hospital. When we went to hospital for practical courses, I was assigned to surgical ward. As of my bad luck the instructor in this ward was Ms. Ahmadi. She gave a brief description of necessary activities, and then assigned one patient to each student to nurse. Attending to the patient until full recovery rested with us.

There was a patient called Mr. Nahang. Due to his special name and physical condition, I never forgot him. He had Larynx cancer and after a heavy surgery, the Larynx had been removed. His feeding was not done through mouth. He had two tubes in his Larynx, one for breathing and the other for nourishment. His surgical wound was so special that only the physician should change his bandage. Despite all these complications, Ms. Ahmadi assigned me for this patient. I was sure that she is looking for a chance to make a fuss and disrespect me in front of others. I relied on God, I had no problem with taking a vein and injecting. The only issue was changing the bandage which had to be done with utmost caution.

This method of feeding the patient was called gavage. When the physician came for gavage, I stood beside him/her to see how he/she is doing. The food which was in form of liquid, was poured slowly though a syringe into the pipe. When this was done, he took a forceps and clipped the pipe. The forceps was the size of a small scissor and was heavy as scissor. I was thinking to replace the metal forceps with a lighter object. Almost every one to two hours, the forceps had to be moved and gavage to be performed and clip it again.

When I was assigned to feed Mr. Nahang, after one two times of clipping with forceps, I took a small ampule and sterilized it with alcohol and cotton and blocked the pipe. This was much better. One day when the physician visited him, he asked who has done this. He meant blocking the food pipe with ampule. For one second I thought I had done something wrong. I anxiously said: “I did this doctor! I noticed that the forceps is heavy and bothers the patient.” the physician said: “Well done girl! This is an interesting initiative.”

I felt relived. Then he turned to me and said: “Since the patient is bed rest, he has to be given massages. Otherwise he will have bedsores and suffer more problems. Remember to give him massages while you are giving him a bath.”

For one second I didn’t know what to do? From one side I was not ready to touch a stranger body but on the other side I knew that Ms. Ahmadi is looking for a chance to start an argument. I brought the bath trolley to the bed. Then I asked a male paramedic to allocate one hour to help me. We went to Mr. Nahang’s bedside. I gave him the bath supplies and taught him how to massage while bathing.

While we were busy, Ms. Ahmadi showed up. As soon as she saw the paramedic bathing Mr. Nahang and massaging him, she started abusing me:

  • Why is this man bathing the patient?! What is your role?!

I said: “I have asked him to help.” She said: “Giving a bath to a patient doesn’t need an assistant. Send him away. Do the rest yourself!” I said: “Sorry! But I won’t touch a stranger’s body!”

As soon as I uttered this sentence, she burst. She started shouting at me and said: “What is illegitimate! Finish this! What is this ridiculous game? If you wanted to act like this, you shouldn’t have studied this course! It is your duty to give your patient a bath and massage.”

I said: “Sorry! I am studying midwifery and have no responsibility towards these affairs. These are the tasks of a nurse. If I wanted to perform these tasks, I would study nursing, not midwifery. I chose midwifery so that I don’t have to deal with illegitimacy.”

Almost none of the other students had never talked to Ms. Ahmadi like this. My words had sense. She had no answer. When I was done talking, she looked at me angrily and left. I knew that they would be consequences.

One day, the physician visited Mr. Nahang and asked me: “How his wound should be bandaged?” I said: “Since the ulcer has been lacerated and is slippery, first the outer part and surrounding of ulcer should be cleaned and washed and then inside the ulcer. In this method we will minimize the probability of contamination of microbes and infection to the inside of the ulcer.”

The physician liked my explanation and nodded and said: “Well done … you are good at this!”

In the fourth semester of second year of university, I went to delivery room for the first time. In the first two weeks, we just watched the procedures of delivery and learn. Our instructor was a woman with hejab whose name I have forgotten. In the first two weeks, the task that we did was to bring the delivery trolley near the physician and hand him over the equipment he needed.

As time passed we became masters and did the delivery ourselves. Each student had to perform eighty deliveries during the studies. Little by little this task became so easy for me that I did two hundred deliveries instead of eighty!


To be continued …


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