The 331st Night of Memory-2

Adjusted by Sepideh Kholoosian
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi

2022-01-18


The 331st Night of Memory session titled “Memorial of Mehdi Khanbanpour”, hosted by Davood Salehi, was held on in the Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari on Thursday, December 23, 2021. The family of the late Khanbanpour, a group of his students, the old neighborhood, friends, and colleagues participated in the ceremony, and the documentary film of "The Last Visit" was also screened.

In the second part, the presenter invited Mr. Abedini, Akbar Eini, Felehgari, and Feizi to tell short memories of the late Mehdi Khanbanpour.[1] Abedini said: "He was really tireless, energetic, and powerful. Everything we gave him he would do in the best way. He was born simultaneously with victory of the Revolution. He was two years old when the war broke out and when he was 10, the war was over. He was student of Mr. Ghadami in Marefat School. As he grew up, he never put one thing aside, and that was religion; as well as, he also considered issues that many people might not care about as they should. I remember in a program of the Night of Memory, as usual, we performed the program in the first two hours and after the second part we announced results of the match. In that program, Sardar Rahim Safavi, then commander of IRGC, was our guest and we asked him to stay with us. After announcing the results and presenting the awards, it came to my mind now that the commander of IRGC is present, take a group photo with everyone who attend the program and is on the stage. The stage was filled with people who participated in the session. At the same time, I saw the late Khanbanpour tried to say something. He said, “a one- or two-year little kid is here, take him also to be in the photo.” I said, “How do I take them? Where do I put them?” Mr. Mehdi said: “Give him to Mr. Rahim. Nothing happens. I said, “He is a commander of IRGC and this is hard.” He said, “If Mr. Rahim gave the child back, I am responsible for it. Mr. Mehdi didn’t endure even a little child not being in the photo.

Then Akbar Eini expressed his memories of the late Khanbanpour and said, "On the Night of Memory, first of all I looked for Mr. Mehdi to ask what the program is, but principally I wanted him assure me. As soon as I saw the late Khanbanpour, all my apprehensions about the program were over. The most important thing that I had always in mind was that sometimes in the programs people just want to implement a program, finish it and leave, but I dare say that Mr. Mehdi did not have such view. He worked fully heartily and with all his enthusiasm during the programs. His work and his empathy with us were very prominent. In the night of memory that we visited the Supreme Leader and I was host of the program, when I entered Hosseinieh, I first asked for Mr. Mehdi. When I found him, I asked what the program is. He said: “He is the conductor, don't worry, I have work to do on that side. When I heard this sentence, I trembled because he was not there. In the program that we had with Martyr Qasem Soleimani on the fortieth day after death of martyr Sha'bani, due to the security considerations, there was no one behind the scene and Mr. Mehdi sometimes visited me. He once sent me a photo of the ceremony, which I was kissing Hajj Qasem's shoulder. Mr. Mehdi said, “Such a nice bliss.”

At the continuance Mr. Felehgari said: “The late Khanbanpour was a very good manager. Technically and professionally, he was very good at his job. He also had much attachment to Amir al-Mu'minin (Imam Ali). I always started the program with a poetry of Afshin Ala. Whenever I reached the last two verses of his poem, which was: “Don’t apart us from him, O’ God, in this world and that world, O’ God, makes us away from evil here, associates us with Ali there,” I saw Mr. Mehdi lifting his hands in prayer gesture. He always reminded me to recite Ala's poem about Imam Ali (PBUH). Every time I recited the last verse, I looked at Mr. Mehdi, who sit behind the computer, but raised his hand to pray.

Then, other narrators told of their memories about the late Khanbanpour, and that he loved his work extraordinarily, and worked tirelessly for his students. Also, a specific characteristic of Mr. Mehdi was that when an idea was formed, he quickly absorbed and implemented the idea. He spent his, while short, life but very deeply and effective for cultural and Qur'anic works. In the sacred Sura Al-Ahzab, verse 23, God says: “Among the believers are men who were faithful to the promise they made to God and acted upon it.” Mr. Mehdi was one of the most prime examples of this holy verse.

In the following, Mostafa Tabesh, who was a friend and companion of the late Khanbanpour, narrated him his memories: “If you have held a memorable night of memory for him today, his memory is interwoven with the martyrs, the professors remember him and Hajj Qasem slaps his shoulder as a sign of affection, it refers to Mehdi's childhood. We were minor children in Shaghaghi neighborhood, Khorasan Square, Shahid Mazaheri Street, and Sa’adat Mosque, who packed with Mr. Mehdi public donations for the fronts and planned to celebrate the Mid-Sha'ban. In these magnificent celebrations, no one saw him prepared with a chipping hammer and a mason peg the place for erect scaffold which was filled with debris since last year. Little Mehdi would put the lamps into the paint buckets and we dried the lamps in our own Husseinieh so that adults could decorate the triumphal arch. On the winter nights of those snowy days in Tehran and in extreme cold at 2 o'clock at midnight, we said: Mehdi, it is enough. But he said, “We work for Sahib al-Zaman (Imam al-Mahdi).” In winter nights, scaffold beams are very cold. In those nights, he would go to the highest point of the scaffold of 17 Shahrivar and Eastern Shoosh streets, decorated the place and installed fibers. God rest his mother's soul. He would gather us all to have tea in their house. In a ceremony of Mid-Sha'ban, Mehdi and the Basij guys of Sa’adat Mosque took an initiative. In those days, there was not propaganda or cultural works like today. With their friends, they began to build wooden frames, and helped by Basij guys in the mosque, they punched fabrics on them, and invited artists and friends to paint pictures of all martyrs of the neighborhood on them. In the Mid-Shaban he said this year photo of the martyrs, which has created as canvas, should be installed on every scaffolding on the street. It was a happy year, and how happy were families of the martyrs. Every passerby says a Salavat and blessed Mehdi.

The narrator continued: "Mahdi loved Ahl al-Bayt so much. In 1993, insisted by him and a group of friends, we established a heyat in memory of the martyrs of our neighborhood called "Heyat of Martyrs who resort to Ali al-Akbar ibn Al-Husayn (PBUH).” The activities of heyat continued on a weekly basis, and Mehdi insisted the works to be done collectively since those days; he arranged pilgrimage to Imam al-Rida (AS) for friends every year. Every year, during the Fatimid days, the heyat held the Fatimid night at their home, and each year he insisted me, “Mostafa recite this famous poem.” I would say, “dear Mehdi it is repetitious.” He said, “No, does the rawda of Lady Fatima be repetitious?” And that poem is:

Alas, the companion of the weak does not have a companion, the begotten of the shrine has no confidant

The lion of God, Conqueror of Khaybar became housebound, without Fatima he does not have the power to fight

I wish there was one in that alley and said, hitting Zahra is not a great job for anybody.

Write on the margins of anemones leaves, the flower does not endure all the pressure of surroundings

As the session continued, Amin Ghadami, Mehdi Khanbanpour's friend, said about him: “Mehdi and I taught at school together. Mehdi tried to keep in touch with the students. He loved children a lot and made a good relationship with them. I remember the last months when the students wanted to leave school, Mehdi would gulp and say, “These kids spend more time with us than with their parents. Usually, parents of students of Marefat School were working, and the children saw more us than their parents. Even though we were 20 years old, we would make more emotional contact with them. We had a painting class at school that was extracurricular, and some of the kids were supposed to stay after classes and we teach them professional painting. one of the kids had trouble in coming to this class, because it was hard for him to come back and his mother couldn't come for him and his father had died too. Mehdi said I would deliver him. Every day we had class, after class, other students would come back in their family's car, but Mehdi would ride the student on a motorbike and took him to his home; then, he would come back to the school and addressed his works. Mehdi did a lot of such things for the children. There are already a number of Mehdi's students here.

In the final episodes of the session, the presenter invited the last narrator, Mehdi Rafiee, who was a defender of Khorramshahr and comrade of Martyr Hemmat, as well as a friend of Mr. Khanbanpour, to tell his memories according to the tradition of the night of memory.

Mehdi Rafiee said: “The late Khanbanpour worked exactly in the level of the warriors and great men of the war period, just like great men such as Martyr Hajj Mahdi Bakeri and Hajj Ibrahim Hemmat. What he did was not a job and livelihood for him, but a mission, and he didn’t require any person admiration. I know what Mehdi wants is not to compliment him. He wants me to say of Ebrahim Hemmat, so I say. A while ago, I make a lecture at the invitation of a number of university professors and saw a clip of the Supreme Leader in which he said war-era memories were so strange that they are like legend. What I'm saying is also very similar to the legend. I remember in 1981, Hajj Ebrahim Hemmat's salary was 18000 Rials. At the same time, concierge of IRGC headquarter in Paveh was a middle-aged man named Kak Rahman with a salary of 5,3000 Rials. One day, I told Hajj Ebrahim, Haji you are IRGC commander of Uramanat, which Paveh is part of your command area; how is it that the concierge of Paveh headquarter is paid more than you? He said, “Well, he is married and I am single, so he is paid for marital status. He has seven children and I am single, so he has child benefit. I eat and sleep in IRGC, and my clothes are for it, but he is a tenant and gets housing benefit. Therefore, it is his right to be paid three times my salary. I have no necessity to spend the same 1,8000 Rials. We all need to know how lived Messrs. Like Hemmat, Bakeri and Kharrazi. They were lover. Mehdi Khanbanpour also followed them. One day I told Martyr Hemmat: Hajji, I see you do not sleep an hour a day, your responsibility is heavier and you work more. He answered me very simply and my puzzle was solved. “Well, I'm going to get more Thawab (reward),” he said.

At the end of the program, Mr. Khanbanpour's family was invited to the stage and was honored. A number of Mr. Khanbanpour's students also presented his family with a plaque they had prepared.

 


[1] Mehdi Khanbanpour was executive director of The Night of Memory sessions who died in the winter of 2021. 



 
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