SABAH (84)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2021-11-16


SABAH (84)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019


Chapter Twenty One

My greatest motivation for staying in Tehran was to find a chance to visit Imam Khomeini. Since 1357 and the trip I had to Qom and had seen him in person, I always remembered those sweet moment in my mind every night. In my family, except for myself, Ferdows had also visited Imam in person in her teenage years and fifteen years old. In the last month of autumn, a bus was arranged for women who had activities and logistics behind the frontline were going to visit Imam. This was arranged by war-stricken affairs.

Once I had gone to martyr foundation but I don’t remember the reason. That day I noticed that some families are given permission to visit Imam privately. I went to the person who was in charge of this programme. I gave him a description of the condition of my family and said that we are very eager to visit Imam. He said that he can’t do anything at the moment and we have to wait for our turns. I pleaded and said: “Brother, I commute between Tehran and Khuzestan constantly. Maybe when our turn comes, I won’t be here at all. Maybe the hospital in Abadan in which I work is bombarded and my wish to visit Imam will be postponed to resurrection day.”

I insisted a lot that he agreed to give me the visiting permission. The permission was typed and ready and the date of the visit and number of visitors were added to it in handwriting. He wrote on the paper: “Four individuals. I sighed. I said in a sad voice: “Why four?!” He said: “How many sister?” I said: “Whom should I take with me? If I take one member of my family, the others will be disappointed!” He said: “I gave this to you because you pleaded a lot and I felt pity for you, otherwise you should have waited for long like others.”

I explained a lot but no use. Poor man got overwhelmed and said that if I insist more, he will take away this permission.

I came home and told all the story. They were all disappointed. We were all so eager to see Imam but now that the chance had come, we couldn’t go all. I don’t know who said something in the middle: “We can put a 1 besides 4 and make it 14. In this way 14 people can go to visit Imam instead of four.”

We all became so happy. I brought a blue pen resembling the writings of the permission and made 4 a 14. In this way we could all go and take auntie Maryam and Elaheh with us. The date of visit was for next week. Until that day, we were so happy and excited.

On the visiting day, my father, my mother, Fouziyeh, Shahnaz, Saleheh, Ferdows, auntie Maryam, Elaheh, Mahnaz our brother Jasem’s daughter, Zahra, Leyla, Ms. Hosseini and I went to Jamaran. A soldier who was checking the permissions and had Isfahani accent, took it from me and looked at it. Then he went to check and match it with a notebook. When he lifted his head, he frowned and looked at me and said: “Who has given you the permission to change the number of visitors?!”

I was shocked. I had been caught. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t deny. I said: “What could I do with my family members who were so eager to visit Imam?”

He said in an angry tone: “You wanted to trick us and bring them for visit? What were you thinking? Didn’t you think for one minute that we might have the report of these permissions?”

I had nothing to say. He was right. My mother started pleading and asking. She apologized a lot and said: “My daughter has done this for us. We have come all this way, please let us in.”

The soldier said: “No way. If you hadn’t done this act, I would have let all of you in but with this act, it is impossible. I said: “At least let four of us go.” He said: “Not anymore! That four people could go if you hadn’t changed the permission.”

I felt greedy. I told in an upset tone: “Now that you won’t let us see Imam, I hope you never see martyrdom!”

We returned home. We were all disappointed. In the morning when we were coming out of the house, we were all so happy but now we were all sad.

There was still no news of Ali. Sometimes we went to Red Crescent office to get any update but returned with nothing.

On Friday nights, Ferdows, Shahnaz, Zahra and I went to Tehran University for Komeil prayers. Most of the nights, Hojatol Islam Sheikh Hossein Ansarian said the Komeil prayers. Sheikh Hossein remembered frontline and fighters in the middle of prayer and Rowzeh. That was the reason that we liked his ceremonies a lot. Besides Komeil prayers, a bus was arranged for every Friday by martyr foundation to come to Koushk building and take families to Beheshte Zahra to visit the graves of the martyrs.

Shahnaz wanted to go to Beheshte Zahra a lot and see the platform on which Imam had given his famous speech on twelfth day of second month of winter. I also wanted to visit the grave of Ayatollah Taleghani. I was familiar with his ideology in activities prior to revolution and studies I had done. He was one of the warriors at the time of revolution. Simultaneously I became familiar with Dr. Shariati and Master Motahari. Books such as “Issue of Hejab” and “Dastan Rastan” written by Master Motahari had great effect on my mind and heart.

One of my wishes was to say prayers behind Ayatollah Taleghani. But God didn’t mean that for me. Before and after the revolution, Shahnaz gave me a few pamphlets related to his biography. He has fought a lot and endured lots of hardship and tortures. This has resulted an attractive personality and figure in my mind and made me have a special respect towards him.

Ayatollah Taleghani had made lots of efforts in the victory of revolution. He had been imprisoned and sent to exile. Therefore he was known as “Abouzar of revolution”. Because of all these reasons, I really wanted to visit his grave. In Behehsht Zahra we first went to section 24. I found the grave of martyr Ali Gheyvaraseli. I remembered Ali’s words. I remembered the memories he shared from the training course he had with martyr Gheyvaraseli. I read a FATEHEH for him and then started asking for the grave of Ayatollah Taleghani. I found it.

I was standing at his grave when a few young individuals who were standing a few meters away, started to utter slogans against Bani Sadr! Shahnaz and I joined them quickly and uttered slogans. A few minutes later a few soldiers surrounded and dispersed us. Shahnaz and I approached them and said: “Do you doubt this person’s treason that you stop us from uttering slogans? If nobody else knows, we from Khorramshahr know that this person handed over our city to Iraqis because of his delays …”

One of the soldiers said: “Maybe you are right but this type of gathering and uttering slogans is not to the benefit of the country at the moment.”

I didn’t feel arguing. Without paying attention to his words, Shahnaz and I went away.

While we were in Tehran, Saleheh was working as a typist in the administrative part of Persian hotel based on request from Abdolreza Mousavi, Deputy of Jahan Ara. As they were saying she was the only girl working in the brothers department of army.

One day Mr. Shokouhi came to our house and said that he has talked to one of the authorities in Ministry of Finance to give me a job there. They had heard about my condition and activities in Jihad and frontline and had agreed with the suggestion.

Mr. Shokouhi said that if I am willing to work, I can start tomorrow. Although it was a good suggestion in that situation, but I told Mr. Shokouhi that I cannot accept. He was very surprised and asked the reason. I said: “I don’t intend to stay here. I have stayed here because of my father’s and family’s situation. At the instance that I become certain that they have got used to the situation here and don’t need my presence and assistance, I will not stay here for one more minute and will return to Abadan.”

Mr. Shokouhi insisted a lot. He said that this job is a guarantee for future but I kept repeating my words. I said that they need me more in frontline and area and I prefer to go back there.

I was impatient to return to Abadan. On the last days prior to returning to Abadan, I felt desolation. Sometimes I felt so desolated inside the house, that I had to get out and walk a bit and then I would feel better. The memories of living with co-fighters who had become martyrs or been injured, had made me restless.

The situation in Tehran bothered me. The situation of Hejab was not good in Tehran. The law on Hejab had not been approved yet and everybody dressed as they liked. Sometimes when I saw the make-up, open chests, ring sleeves and hairs of some women and girls, I couldn’t bear it and made comments to them. Some of them felt shy and didn’t say anything and tried to pull themselves together but others argued. Old and young were comfortable. Once Shahnaz and I saw a woman in the street from rear who was wearing a chic suit and skirt and had fanned her blond hair carefully. I told Shahnaz: “Her hair are beautiful, so must be her face!”

Out of curiosity we accelerated our pace of steps to see her face. When we reached her, we were shocked. She was an eighty years old woman! I couldn’t believe that she had attended to herself so much at this age. I became really heartbroken seeing these appearances and faces. I remembered our martyrs; their wishes. I had read in their wills that they emphasized on Hejab. I had heard a lot that they said my sister your Hejab is more effective than my blood; and now this situation and here …

Besides the issue of Hejab, hypocrites went among the public with their deviated newspapers and articles and created clashes in the streets. These gatherings and arguments happened mostly in the pavements of Vali Asr Avenue. Young girls each had one newspaper in their hands and tried to persuade people to listen to them by being loud and commotion.

These sceneries reminded me of the memories at the edge of the river. I remembered the time when with the help of Khorramshahr revolutionary boys and girls went into such crowds who had come to enjoy the river and didn’t let them pollute and engage the comfortable minds of those who had come to have quality time. In Tehran we were not indifferent to this issue and when encountered by them, we argued with them for hours with Shahnaz.

In this situation, I thought about the injured; injured soldiers whose nobody attended. I remembered the tasks I did in the hospital. In those days, the health and medical facilities were so few in the hospital that I didn’t let many things pass easily. For example, when the cerum container were used, we didn’t throw them away. We washed them and used them as chest tube container. We even didn’t throw the disposable gloves of the surgery ward away. After surgery we washed them and sent them to autoclave. After disinfecting them in autoclave, we powdered them and placed them for re-use. So one pair of gloves was used for a few times.

Once a few female aid workers came to Taleghani hospital for help. They were coming from Roudsar. When they saw that we needed equipment and are short of them, they returned to Roudbar and discussed this issue with Roudbar Friday clergy. After a while, with their efforts and recommendation of Roudbar Friday clergy, lots of items such as manteaux and trousers and scarves and sheets were sent for us which were very useful.

On some days, when I missed the frontline a lot and I was sad, I went to Imam Zadeh Saleh alone. I pilgrimaged and cried a lot and when I felt better I returned home. I resembled to a person who had lost a person. For prayers, Shahnaz and I mostly went to Ghaem mosque at the beginning of Sa’adi Avenue. Sometimes we went to Jalili mosque in Iranshahr Avenue.

My mother persuaded me to think about Mr. Shokouhi’s suggestion and stay here but I kept repeating my words. It had been a while that I experienced severe dizziness and shortness of breath. With the slightest move, my throat contracted and became painful. It was as if a vein was bothering me going from my throat to the rear of my head. This state increased when there was no electricity and I had to use the stairs. All these were symptoms due to my physical weakness during the two three months of war that were showing themselves little by little.

Maybe these were the reasons that my mother didn’t want me to return to Abadan and wanted to keep me in Tehran in any possible way. Poor mother paid so much attention to us. I remember that on the first days when we settled in Koushk building, she bought red meat once, twice. When she cooked meal with red meat, I didn’t eat it. When I saw the red meat, I felt bad. I remembered the injury of the patients and martyrs and didn’t feel like eating. My mother found out this issue and tried to cook meals mostly made of fishes and shrimps. She made Ghaliyeh mahi[1] and shrimps. Sometimes she got kebab from outside.

It was the twentieth day of second month of winter. I missed going to Abadan and hospital. My father’s illness was under control to some extent and my mother and siblings were also settled in Koushk building. I told Shahnaz: “Let’s persuade father and mother and return to Abadan.”

When we talked to my father about this, he said: “Shabah can go but Shahnaz has to stay.”

Shahnaz objected: “father! Why shouldn’t I go?” My father said: “Sabbah goes for aid work and attending the injured. You don’t have the courage to do so, so stay with mother and siblings.”

Shahnaz was upset at first by my father’s decision but then she accepted that it would be better if she stays with the family in that situation. I was overwhelmed with job. I bought bus ticket and went to Borujerd; then Mahshahr and Abadan.

 

To be continued …

 


[1] A kind of stew made in the southern parts of Iran with vegetables and fish.



 
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