SABAH (107)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2022-05-18


SABAH (107)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019

 


 

My plan in Arak took twelve months. When I had done with my plan, I returned to Tehran. I liked to work somewhere. I found out that Tehran University is employing. At the end of 1987 I participated in the employment exam of Tehran University. Around two months later the results were published and thanks God I had been accepted. In second square of Tehran Pars there was a hospital called Arash which was affiliated to Tehran University. I started working in maternity ward as midwife.

For the first time in 1987 United Nations was suggesting the draft of resolution of ceasefire to Iran and Iraq, the names of prisoners of war and their freedom was brought up. Prior to that there was no name of prisoners of war. Until that date we almost had one letter from Ali every seven eight months. The discussion of resolution and ceasefire was raised when Iran had significant progresses in Iraq and was in charge of power. In such cases, the humanitarians started acting and their suggestions to end the war were refused.

Despite all this, on 27 day of first month of summer 1988 when we heard the news of acceptance of resolution 598 by Iran, we were devastated. I was in hospital and at my work. I was stoned for one second. I couldn’t believe what I had heard. I whispered all the time why now?! Why didn’t they give the suggestion of ceasefire when we sieged Fav and were victorious in war? Until that moment our motto was fight, fight until elimination of sedition. We had a long way to go to eradicate a sedition like Saddam. We believed in Imam’s saying that the way to Qods passes through Karbala, until that moment, we had been patient and had resisted with the hope of eradication of Arab Socialist Baath Party – Iraq Region. We wanted to win Karbala towards Qods and liberate it. In this situation, we couldn’t digest the news of acceptance of resolution by Imam. Our pain increased when we heard that Imam has said that I have drank poison chalice with the acceptance of resolution.

Those days, it had been a week that my father was visiting doctor and going to hospital. Because of his presence in Fav, a skin lesion had appeared on his stomach which showed up with skin severe itching and little by little turned to irritation and ulcer. This lesion caused severe pain inside the stomach. He was not feeling well. When he heard the news on resolution, he had become nervous and was feeling worse. I felt pity for him. He was melting away in front of our eyes and we couldn’t do anything for him.

We were all down. At that time, Ferdows lived on fourth floor of Koushk building. Since Mohammad Agha commuted constantly to frontline for two years, Ferdows and her children had come to live near us from Jeyhoun Street. We were so sad that the war had ended like this and we were mourning that we as well as Ferdows’s husband had hung a black flag at our door. After the acceptance of the resolution, each person in streets and avenues, in office and university, had his/her own analysis of the situation. Some celebrated it and some like us were mourning.

A few months had passed since the acceptance of the resolution. My father’s health got worse day by day. At the beginning, meaning one and a half ago, his health was like someone having a cold; a chronic cold which had no end and had intended to kill him. Despite his health condition, he went to his work in army and continued to work. One of those days his commander told him father why don’t you get better?! Go to a doctor and give a complete lab test and see what is wrong with you. Then he himself introduces a physician.

The physician refers my father to have a lung x-ray. He notices in the x-ray that a part of the lung is opaque. He refers him for lab test and waits for the results. At that time, Fouziyeh was an official employee of Tehran University and the central laboratory of Imam Khomeini hospital was her responsibility. She took my father to the hospital and they did a few tests. The results were suspicious therefore they asked us to take him to Shariati hospital for biopsy of lung. Then referred him to surgery.

We were all worried. It was a simple cold. My mind was focused on this issue. I was worried that something might be wrong with my father. I was worried that all these years of waiting to see Ali would be useless. Now that the resolution had been signed and there were whispers that the prisoners are coming back, I hoped that my father would survive to see Ali.

We were informed by the hospital that we need to donate four units of blood on the day of the biopsy. The hospital would take the needed blood from bank of blood of the hospital and we had to replace them. Me, son of Ms. Houshmand, Mohammad Agha Ferdows’s spouse and Fouziyeh went to donate blood. I was lying on the bed and was donating blood. Shahnaz was standing beside my bed. I felt that my life was going out of my veins instead of my blood. For one second the room and surrounding became dark. Shahnaz went and hastily brought a nurse. The nurse opened the blood collection Garo and held the bag of blood up to return the blood flow to my body. She said: “She needs blood herself. Who said she can donate blood?” She said that if with the blood returned inside her body she doesn’t feel better, we have to transfer one unit of blood.

Although it had been a few years that I had returned from frontline, but my physical weakness was still there. They returned the blood I had donated back to my body, they also gave me a dense water and sugar solution. When I told them that I am fine and don’t have any problem, they let me go. I asked how my father was doing. Shahnaz said: “They took him to surgery room and took a part of the tissue of lung with a special syringe and sent it for pathology.” I said: “This was supposed to be an outpatient surgery!” She said: “Yes, it was not a specific procedure.” I said: “So why did they ask us to donate three units of blood?” She said: “I have no idea! It was not used for our father at all.”

After a few days, Fouziyeh went and received the pathology result. It became obvious that the quiver which had hit my father on 24th day of first month of autumn of 1980, has returned to an ulcer and as time has passed has turned to a cancerous mass. The same spot that he always had pain and we thought that the ulcer has not recovered fully and is causing problems. Only God knows how we felt when we heard the news. All those anxieties and worries and ifs and buts that I had in mind before the lab test, were revived again. Another test was on the way. I asked God to help us.

My father’s treatment began. Chemotherapy and hospitalization in hospital; lack of energy and paleness and falling of his hairs … there were hard days; days that we were not prepared for. It was a bad period. Our separation from our living and life and our city on one side; my father’s illness and his fading away on the other side, had made us down with mood.

One day, during Morning Prayer, I saw that my father is sitting on his prayer rug in a corner of the house and is crying loudly. We were all terrified. We thought he has pain. We gathered around him quickly and asked him what is wrong. He was missing Ali and was whispering some words. He was saying: “Ali jan! I never had the chance to see you … when you were young I was on mission from this city to other city and was not home. Then when you got older, the war started and you didn’t stay home so that I could enjoy your presence. You were imprisoned at the age of seventeen.” When we saw him crying and uttering those words, we all started crying. It was as if he was citing Rowzah. We had never seen him so restless. He was missing him a lot and his patience had ended. We all cried until we felt comfortable.

The sickness of my father took one and a half year. On the last days he was constantly watching the news and asked us to buy newspaper for him to see if there is any news about the liberation of prisoners. But it was no use. On the twenty ninth of first month of winter of 1988, my father passed away looking forward and longing to see his eldest son. He was the pillar of our family; he was one of those men who had the total management of our lives and his word was the last word. I couldn’t believe his loss. I wish Ali was with us in these hard days.

 

To be continued …

 



 
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