A Review of the Book "Dancing on One Foot"

Memoirs of Ismail Yektai

Fereydoun Heydari Molkmian
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


It was our turn and we went to the plane with pride. When I stepped on the first stair, I remembered Gholamreza; my body became weak and I could not move. It was as if my feet were stuck to the ground. I felt cold sweat settle on my forehead. Gholamreza's face came to my eyes while he was laughing. I remembered his jokes, the laughter that was on his lips in the most difficult conditions, even in the last moment of life.

I said to myself: "Ismail? ... Ismail? ... Will you return without Gholamreza?"

       It excerpts from the back cover of  [the book] "Dancing on One Foot" next to the image of the single boot cut from the mustard-colored background on the cover of the book itself represents the true story of martyrdom and courage, which is narrated moment by moment in all its details in this text.

      After the Gilanۥs Arts Center note and the author's note, the voluminous text of the memoirs begins, and the narrator recounts everything he had in mind from his childhood to the altar of the Iraqi camps in 14 chapters. In the following, three pages are devoted to the yearbook, which includes the published works of Ismail Yektai, his honors, positions, activities in publications, and his religious activities. Then you can see the photos and documents section, which of course has a relatively good quality of photos. And at the end, as usual, the book index is included.

      In the first chapter of [the book], "Dancing on One Foot", the narrator begins his childhood memories by pointing out that, unlike many of his peers, he liked to work in the summer instead of wandering around the neighborhood. Maybe because he always thought that others had a better life than them, but of course, he never complained. If he was very upset, he would sit in a corner and think. Then he said to himself, "One day I will learn to read and write and I will write all this."

     Ismail Yektaei, who was born in 1969 in Chalkiasar neighborhood of Langarud, is one of the first people who wrote in the field of oral history of the captivity and even published a small part of his memoirs during his captivity in 1991; In addition, the publication of more than six other books can be seen in his career.

      But in the meantime, the book "Dancing on one foot" is the result of hours of conversation between Mostafa Mosayebzadeh (author) and Yektai, in which the narrator's utterances are tried to be as intrusive as possible and with fidelity, as well as in simple and narrative language to be offered to the readers.

      Ishmael's father owned a grocery store and had everything the people needed; from food to groceries. After the advent of television, the shop became practically a coffee shop. Sometimes, when a movie or TV series aired, the neighbors would even bring their food and eat inside the shop. It was a warm and friendly atmosphere and Ishmael found that his father's business was flourishing and his father was very happy about it. Ishmael often went to his father's shop and helped him with his chores.

      In October 1975, he entered Kourosh Primary School for the first time to spend his early years there; until the year 1957, he had to sit in the fourth grade, where he heard about the revolution. Schools were sometimes closed. They went to school regularly for a month or two, but at least due to the crowds of the revolution that had now reached Langarud city, the schools had become partially closed.

      On December 30, 1978, the city of Langarud dedicated its first martyr to the revolution, and everyone gathered to bury that martyr. It was so crowded that Ismail did not succeed in trying to reach the body of the martyr. People carried the body of the martyr in their hands and a little further on, they also put his bloody shirt on a stick so that everyone could see it. The martyr's shirt danced in the air and people chanted: "Until the king is not shrouded / this homeland will not become a homeland." Ishmael liked the slogan very much, perhaps because of its melody, especially since everyone was shouting it in unison. From that day on, he repeated it under his breath. Little by little, he realized that people had taken to the streets because of the pressure the king had put on them. You hear from here and there that people are fed up with the oppression that exists and no longer want to be oppressed. He walked with the crowd and listened in amazement to their slogans without doing anything or chanting.

       Protests and marches became more and more crowded every day and every moment. The face of the city had changed and revolutionary activities could be easily seen in the streets. The people quietly took over the order of their neighborhoods. They guarded at night and monitored the movements themselves. Now the city had taken on a new color and smell. Ismael, despite his young age, could discern that a great event was taking place. Eventually, the schools were completely closed, and he would leave the house every day under any pretext to find out about the events of the revolution. By the end of January, everything had changed. The Shah had left Iran and people were scattering flowers and sweets in cars and were happy that the Shah was leaving. Then you heard more news from all over the country. The administration of the cities fell to the revolutionaries one after another. Finally 22 Bahman (11 February) and [Islamic revolutionary] victory. On this day, the people of Langarud also reached the peak of their association with the revolution and captured the police.

        The second chapter begins in September 1980, when Ismail had to go to the first grade of middle school. But the news of Iraq's invasion of Iran changed everything and shocked everyone. The country that had just gone through the revolution and had to think about the future was now at war with Iraq. During this period, Ismail was sometimes active in the Basij. His father was opposed at first, but he did his job secretly; For example, participating in congregational prayers, public running, attending marches, etc. Ismail, like many of his peers, loved to go to the front from the very first days of the war. Attending the mobilization and seeing the caravans heading towards the front created an indescribable salinity in him.

       It was at the end of 1981 that he was able to satisfy his father and become a permanent member of the Basij with the effort of his mother and his insistence. Early the following year, he tried to register to be sent to the front anyway. But he had not yet reached the legal age and had to obtain his father's consent. A year passed and in the meantime, many martyrs were brought and buried in Langarud. Ismael, longing to go to the front, doubled his interest to see these scenes. He could no longer wait for his father's consent, and finally took a copy of his birth certificate and changed his date of birth from 48 to 45. He also wrote the consent form himself and signed it on behalf of his father. Seeing his determination, his mother forced him to sign, and thus he succeeded in completing his deportation file. In September 1983, he did the final work and got ready to leave. On the day of his departure, as he was saying goodbye, his mother kissed him, passed under the Qur'an, and poured the bowl of water he was holding behind him. But the father did not leave the room and only expressed his dissatisfaction until the last moment. When he boarded the bus with the others and headed for Manjil, where they were to be trained, his mother's gaze was still in his mind and could not forget her his eyes.

      After forty-eight days of hard training, he returns to Langarud to visit his family during those five days of leave. But his father did not let him go home, and Ismael inevitably went to the house of a friend with who had a good and intimate relationship.

      In the third chapter, the narrator mentions that in early November 1983, he went to the Langrud Corps with double motivation to go to Ahvaz with the other children. For the first time, he was supposed to see the real war up close. It felt weird. He did not know what he was facing, and all he had in mind was what he had heard.

      Arriving in Ahvaz, Ismail just realizes that they are still very far from the front line. The 25th Karbala Division is stationed in the Malik Ashtar Battalion, and after a few days, when everyone's abilities are determined, they want to employ him because of his good voice in the propaganda department. Nevertheless, he counts the moments so that he can be present along with the others in the operation and take part directly in the clashes and shootings. He wants to be able to do something. But without fulfilling his request, he inevitably returns to Langarud city from Ahvaz.

      In the early winter of 1983, he was sent to the front again. But he still felt that his coming to the front has no value or closeness to God at all. Although he liked practical work, it is war and command and obedience. This time it did not last even more than twenty days, and when they say that those who have been on the front for three months can settle accounts and leave, he did not hesitate. He took his settlement and returns to Langarud and decides to continue his education. The first was high school. There was nothing left for the second and third exams. He did not want to be left behind by his comrades.

      In the fourth chapter, however, the narrator says about three years later that he reloads his bag to be sent to the front: this time with a friend from Sanandaj. When they arrive, they are stationed in the Tawhid garrison, the headquarters of the 52nd Quds Brigade in Gilan ... and sometime later, on this mission, the wait was over and he suddenly finds himself in Operation Karbala 2 at the foot of the peaks of Varus. The Hamza, Kumayl, and Meysam battalions, which were line breakers, had advanced earlier. They also had to go to the summit of Varus for support. It was dawn when they arrived and a stop order was issued. The silence was everywhere. There was no sound even from the Iraqis. But suddenly everything changed and the ground turned upside down and it rained fire and bullets from the sky. From that moment on, Ismail witnessed scenes that he found hard to believe ... the forces of Hamzeh, Kumayl, Meysam, etc. battalions, most of whom were martyred or wounded or captured by the enemy.

      When he returned to Langarud on leave, his heart and mind had nothing to do. He did not know how to deal with the families of those who were martyred and what to say if they reached out to their comrades. He felt bad alone. They cried for the first time when he faced his father. He neither wants to stay nor to go. However, even though it had not been more than five days since his arrival, he left again on the second of October, 1986. This time the father came to him and said: "If you liked to go[war], you can go!... I am also satisfied with the pleasure of God."

      They move towards Shushtar. They reach the barracks in the heart of the desert near the Shushtar-Dezful road and join the 1st Battalion of Abolfazl ... Everything seemed to be ready to start a new operation and the forces were ready to work hard to make a bitter memory of Karbala 2 to be forgotten; this was the beginning of a new operation: Karbala 5.

      In the fifth and sixth chapters, the narrator tells of his firm decision to knock on every door to join Hamza's battalion. He turned to anyone who thought he could do anything until he could join the battalion. It was early July when they moved towards Marivan, to start Operation Nasr 4; The operation was to take the town of Mawt and eventually the Qeshn garrison out of the hands of the Iraqis.

     It was in late December 1987 that Operation Beit-ol-Moqaddas took off. This operation was carried out to complete Operation Nasr 4.

     Chapter 7 of the book deals with the days when the news of the chemical bombing of Halabja, which was ordered by Saddam, caused great sorrow in the hearts of the comrades; The bombing in which many innocent people of Halabja were killed. The whisper of Operation Dawn 10 was heard in late March. The operational area of the village of Tete in Marivan was located at a very high point overlooking the Iraqi city of Halabja. In front of them were two peaks and there was a groove between them where the operation was to start. The goal was to capture a military town. The comrades were passing through a ravine between two peaks when Ismael suddenly jumped on a mine and was thrown into the air. His eyes went black and he fell on one of the comrades. His left foot was crushed from the waist down and he did not even have a toe. Although the pain was severe, he had to resist not being heard. Because the Iraqis should not have noticed their presence, and on the other hand, it might have weakened the morale of the comrades. But it was not long before another child landed on the mine. It was a difficult situation. It was dark and they could not see well. Suddenly, fire and bullets started raining down from the ground and air. The Iraqis had patrolled. The bullets of the 106 cannon and the tank around them hit the ground and exploded. Ismael suddenly saw that they were alone. Most of the forces were either injured or martyred. Now only Gholamreza, one of his closest friends, was left carrying him, but he was injured. Gholamreza was supposed to get married when they returned to Langarud together. They had now taken refuge under a slate to escape the fires. Gholamreza picked up the stones and flattened the ground so that Ismail could lie down easily. He leaned on the stone board with Ismael. He was bleeding profusely and all his shirt and pants were covered in blood. Ismael turned to him and put his hand on his shoulder and said: "Do not leave me alone for a while, we still have a lot to do, we have to go back to Langarud, I want to dance at your wedding, what did you think because I have one leg I cannot dance?" Then he imagined dancing on one leg for a moment. He did not know whether to laugh or cry. But Gholamreza did not answer. It was as if he could not speak. He hugged and kissed her. But Gholamreza does not move anymore. A smile can be seen on his lips and he was looking at the sky. He called him again but did not answer; Gholamreza was martyred.

      Ismail, after being stranded in the mountains alone for a few days without any food or water, is finally captured by the Iraqis and transferred to the Iraqi camps that detailed description of this period of captivity is given in chapters eight to thirteen of the book " Dancing on one foot".

      The final chapter (the fourteenth) is dedicated to the thirty months after the captivity. "Ismail? ... Ismail? ... Are you coming back without Gholamreza?" He gets a sore throat.

      At that moment, he wanted to be in the camp, but at least Gholamreza was with him. At 10 a.m., the plane carrying him and the other prisoners took off, left Iraq, and headed for Iran. When he reached his homeland, he prayed two rocket of thanksgiving before the first act. A large crowd had come to greet him. There he was asked to say a few words to the people. When he went behind the podium, he thanked the people and the officials and then said, "It's a happy place that Iran was able to proudly defend its territory for eight years and not let a single inch of this clean soil go to the enemy." The comrades stood up to the enemy with all their hearts and souls, and we owe this peace today to the blood that was shed ..."

      He was then escorted to Mehrabad Airport. They boarded the plane again and arrived at Rasht airport in the evening. From Rasht, he and another child were taken by ambulance and headed to Langarud. On the way, they told him: "Ismail in Langarud, everyone is waiting to see you." When the news of your martyrdom reached you, everyone should attend the closing ceremony, but now that you understand that you are alive, see you." When the ambulance arrived in Langarud, the crowd closed the road and rushed towards the ambulance. Ismail heard the voice of someone who said: "Citizens of Langarud, pay attention, the living martyr of our city, Ismail Yektai, has returned to his homeland and has just entered the city of Langarud."

"     Do you see Ismail?" Said the ambulance driver, "one day we heard the news of your martyrdom, now you are alive and come back." Then he started laughing, as if he remembered something.

Ismael looked at him in the mirror and asked, "Why are you laughing? What has happened?"

     The driver looked in the mirror and said, "I'm laughing at how you would feel if you saw your own grave!"

      Ismael went in a deep thinking. Didn't know what he would be like? that was weird. He did not know whether to laugh or...

     The interview and writing of the book "Dancing on one foot" were done by Mostafa Mosayebzadeh for the Art Centers of Guilan province, and its first edition was published in 2017 by Surah Mehr Publishing Company in 518 pages and 2500 copies with a price of 18,000 Toman (Iranian currency) in medium octavo format. It has been sent to the book market.

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