SABAH (108)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (108)

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 Eight

At the end of second month of spring 1989 we noticed that Imam is not feeling well. I don’t know why I felt angry instead of feeling sad! We really believed that the flag of this revolution will pass from the hands of Imam to the hands of Sahib Al-Zaman. We really believed “God spare Khomeini until the revolution of Mehdi”. Therefore I couldn’t accept any news about the sickness of Imam. As time passed I could believe the truth little by little.

The worry about the health of Imam had reached its highest peak until fifth of third month of spring when the television announced that he has to undergo surgery due to hemorrhage in digestive system. The public went in groups to mosques and Hosseiniyahs and Tekyehs[1] and prayed for Imam’s health. Thanks God the surgery of Imam was performed without complication but his heart disease still continued and he was in hospital.

On the thirteenth day of third month of spring, I was sitting in women’s section in Arash hospital and was bored. It was around ten at night. The radio of our colleague in operator’s section was reciting Quran. He/she changed the frequency a few times but they all were only reciting Quran. Our shifts were arranged in a way that a group was awake from twelve to three and one group from three to six in the morning. I always liked to stay awake for the first shift and sleep during the second shift. My plan was the same that night too. I attended all the patients until three in the morning. Some needed hospitalization and the rest were sent home.

I didn’t know why I felt anxious that night. I walked and was listening fully to the radio. It broadcasted nothing but Quran. My shift was over. I went to bed and lay down but couldn’t sleep. The anxiety was all over my body and was killing me. I lay down for half an hour and got up again and started to walk.

I went to clinic. The radio was reciting Quran there. I walked around like a chicken with no feathered until the Morning Prayer. I said the Morning Prayer. The radio was still broadcasting Quran. My shift was over and I had to return home when I was informed that the baby of one of the women in labor was being born. I went to delivery room quickly.

Although all my attention was focused on radio and the voice of Quran but I went to the woman in labor. I whispered “In the name of God” and got busy. Only God knew what a reverberation was in my heart. I looked partially at the clock. It was around seven in the morning. The radio was still broadcasting Quran. I was comforting myself. I told myself that maybe the Head of IRIB or one of the clergies have passed away and therefore they are constantly broadcasting Quran!

The baby wasn’t born yet when I heard the voice of Mr. Hayati from radio who said God’s spirit has joined the realm of the kingdom.

I felt that somebody hit my head with a sledgehammer. For one second my whole body loosened. At that instance the baby was born. The baby’s crying sound mixed with the crying sound of me and the mother. We three were crying. Tears had filled my eyes and didn’t let me do my job well. I wiped my tears away with my elbow and continued. I didn’t notice how I finished my job.

I came out of the room. The crying sounds could be heard in all parts of the hospital. It was as if the building was whining. I wore my chador and went out of the hospital with face wetted from tears. During this phase the Matron[2] was only looking at me. It seemed that he/she was very surprised by my behavior. According to the law we had to exit the hospital at eight o’clock in the morning and nobody had the right to leave sooner without taking leave. On those days, they were very careful to our commutes and if anybody didn’t observe that law, they punished him/her. But I was feeling so bad that the Matron didn’t ask where I was going. Just stood there and watched me.

I didn’t go home. I went to Jamaran directly. I reached Quds Square with difficulty but at the square there were lots of people wearing black and morning and hitting their heads and faces and nobody could move even for one more step. It took me three four hours to reach Jamaran. They told us that the body of Hazrate Imam is being transferred to Mosalla.

I started walking towards Mosalla with others. We came to Argentine square. I went from there to Mosalla with the roaring wave of people. The respectful body of Hazrate Imam was placed in a glass refrigerator in Mosalla. Women and men, old and young were hitting themselves. We were among the first groups to reach to Mosallah. The crowd was getting bigger. People were coming towards the sea like a roaring river.

I was besides the body of Hazrate Imam for three days and I didn’t inform my family where I was. I knew that they would guess where I am. During these three days I only separated from Imam for renewal and ablution. We had to walk a long way for ablution. They had made portable lavatories and ablution homes with containers. People were so much that we had to be very careful not to fall under the feet of others. Nobody was in normal situation. I don’t remember to have eaten anything in those three days other than water and two, three packs of cakes or biscuits that were distributed among the public.

All the time when I was Tawafing the body of Imam, I remembered the memory of meeting him in Qom. I had cried so much in those three days that I felt my tears had dried. My eyelashes were full of dandruffs and my eyelids were swollen. In the evening of third day, I saw a number of men and women wearing prison uniform coming towards the body of Imam on all fours. They said that these people are repentant hypocrites who have heard the news of demise of Imam and had asked to come and pilgrimage Imam’s body. My crying got more serious when I saw them. There was honesty in their behavior that burnt the hearts.

I wanted to stand in first line for The Corpse Prayer. I wanted to see him when I said prayers for his body. It was a non-sense dream. How could I materialize my wish in a population of million people? As we heard, it was estimated that ten million people have come to Mosalla for the burial and funeral ceremony. A large number of people were from different provinces and cities. This was obvious from their appearance and way of mourning.

Little by little lines for prayers were being formed. I looked at the crowd. I had to be very talented to find a place to stand and say prayers. As I was standing and watching the crowd, my feet were detached from ground and I was like a person who was surfing. I went around with the movement of the crowd. I had no control for myself. A few minutes passed like this. When the crowd stood still, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

During this movement, I had reached the first line of prayer. I couldn’t believe this. I whispered God! How could I end up here?! I was standing there confused when the prayer started. We said our prayers to the body of Imam. I cried all the time. I couldn’t believe that meeting my dear and beloved Imam was postponed to Doomsday. During the past three days I had not been able to believe his demise and empty place. I thought it was a dream and now somebody will wake me up.

After the prayers, I came to know a woman of about fifty years of age who was saying to some people in Turkish dialect: “Last night Seyed Ahmad Agha Khomeini has gone to Behesht-e-Zahra and has bought a piece of land from a farmer to bury Imam.”

After the prayer, we went towards the buses to go to Behesht-e-Zahra. We walked for about twenty minutes; sometimes fast and sometimes slow. On the way I heard from the woman that she is a relative of Mr. Ardebili. We walked until we got separated from the public and reached a few buses. The buses were standing in a position that there was no way among them to pass. They were standing so closed but we found a way with difficulty and passed.

On the other side of the buses, we saw Sayyad Shirazi. I had seen his face during the war from television and newspaper and had heard about his bravery in war and also his dealing with army members and I knew him well.


To be continued …


[1] A Tekyeh is a place where Shiite Muslims gather to mourn Muharram.

[2] The manager (senior supervisor) of the nurses in the hospital is called matron. He/she is in charge of checking attendance and all other relevant issues of the nurses in a hospital.

Number of Visits: 229


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