Bloody Smile: A different account on Shonam assessment session


December 4th 2010, Sacred Defense Museum Garden, Hamadan Province;
Hamadan province is hosting Sacred Defense researchers and literati in an experts' gathering arranged to critique a book that has 10 impressions since its debut at Tehran International Book Fair in May 2010. Shonam encompasses the memoirs of Kianoush Golzar Ragheb, 16-year-old lad back in 1981 and a grey-haired 45-year-old chap in 2010.
Shonam literary means the wished border and is the name of a highland near Biareh and Khormal cities in Iraq. (Page: 5) This highland was occupied on July 22nd 1981 by a group of 16-17 years old youngsters led by the late Ahmad Motavaselian. The conquest did not last very long due to still-unknown reasons, and the enemy's heavy counterattack turned the land into the bloody slaughter place which still keeps those bodies. Martyrs Bijan Shafiei, Mohammad Homaeirashid, Mohammad Reza Foroutan, Mohammad Varmazyar, Khosro Azarmi, and five Shonam natives (all friends of Kianoush) are at rest on top of these heights.
During the battel, Kianoush hurt his eye and his brother, Banatali Fatahi (the differing name is explained in the book, Page: 31), drags him back but they are detained by Koumekeh and the violent enemies…
The book narrates the woeful moments of Kianoush; the memoirs of chilling days captivity in the hands of anti-revolutionaries. The book tells the resistance story of a warrior brother who had Bidad Valley wolves wakeful; the wolves who finally hunted his repose.
Shonam resurrects the uprising story of men whom, in their motherland, were entrapped by ill-natured crooks and finally rose against the oppressors. Shonam tells the story of Shilan; little Kurdish girl sitting in the dark with deer-like eyes looking at Kianoush for hope. She moves toward him and…
The story of Shonam and Shilan is no love story like Leili and Majnoun, Khosro and Shirin, or Yousof and Zoleikha. Rather, it is the story of affection and humanity. It is the story of Shonam's loneliness and silence shattered by dogs.
Shonam is neither a story, nor a poetry piece, nor an imagination, nor memory. Shonam is none but all. Shonam is only Shonam.
The session was held in the presence of a number of the literati who exposed their views on Shonam.
Golzar Ragheb was also in the session his memories held for years. He was now happy to see there were many to readily share feelings on his memories. He smiled but differently. He was wearing a smile of love, smile of agony, smile of blood, smile of a bloody heart; a bloody smile.
The book is, in my humble view, an account of the greatness of an Iranian woman. Parvin is Shonam's wife whose endurance and patience has made Shonam (Kianoush) what he is today. Kianoush was lucky to find Parvin to dedicate his memories to her.
The guests were well-aware that praising Shonam's patience, purity and tolerance would only be possible through sentiments. Thus, they all decided to express their views on the book through their own savvy perceptions.
A storywriter, Farahnaz Ghasemi spoke about the winter-in-summer oxymoron unused in the book and conveyed her disappointment at learning that the dialogue between Shonam and Shilan was just a dream. Also, Motaghian, a Jihadist in Hamadan Province, delivered a more detailed description of the then political status of Kurdistan.
Abolfath Momeni, research deputy of Hozeh Honari in Hamadan, stated "fantasy has made the fiction side of the book stronger than its narrative one". He said he expected to see some of the book's characters more underpinned.
Furthermore Almasi, writer, underlined the books theme and asserted that it was not clear whether the work was a book of memory, poetry or fiction.
A publisher, Sharifi, proposed the book would better be titled as Shonam and Shilan. Ali Rostami explained that a book titled as Shilan is presently being printed as a fiction book. Akbari, writer and film-maker, maintained that the book's attraction is sprung from its narrative nature in different parts: going to the front, being detained, the love story and the end. He said the Shonam-Shilan love story is the book's heart while his interest was pointed at Brother Nabat who made him cry sometimes.
Mohammad Ali Heidar Delgarm, a veteran Jihadist (or an unshielded fort-maker), expressed pity over the poor description of geographical positions, roads, mosques, etc. in the book. He also questioned the fact that why Islamic ideological discussions were not presented in front of Marxist and communist analyses in anti-revolution camps. On the other hand, Mrs. Bayat wanted to know why such a book should have been written. Zanjani, representative of the Moghavemat (resistance) Literature Office in the Provinces' Affairs of Hozeh Honari, asserted that Kianoush experienced self-censorship; a fact evident in many parts of his book. He also stressed the need for a more studied work on the book.
… And Kianoush was still listening patiently as he scribbled all he heard.
The cold hall was warmed up with speeches by three friends of Kianoush in war and captivity. Azimi, one of them, had come to the gathering avidly to talk vigorously about the cold days he spent with Kianoush. He admired Kianoush for reviving their memories of dirty, damp crypts in Komoleh. When relating his memories, he was not in this world; it was like he was not in the hall anymore.
One of the guests who did not turn up until the closing minutes was Bagher Yaghoubi, a Shonam mission comrade. He displayed a bunch of photos of the mission's martyrs with whom they spent their halcyon days of yore.
Ali Rostami has been introduced in the book as one of the counselors and guides who served as one of the Basijis, 16 then, in the mission. He spoke about the deployment of Asadabad teachers and students to Marivan and then to the mission. He gave details about the geographical features of the region and approved the book's chronology of the events. He was also intrigued by Nabat's charismatic personality and called for more research works on him. In fact, Yaghoubi and Rostami are alive evidence for the first 50 pages of the book; oral evidence that need to be recorded. 
At the beginning of the session I was uncertain about its mood; on the one hand, I posited that it was a technical setting where I could air my unfiltered views, which I thought was the book's rights. On the other, I was afraid my criticism would challenge the emotional setting of the session formed up by the memories of Shonam comrades. So, I decided to keep the session's setting under my surveillance. When I found Kianosh deeply sunk in his patience, I decided not to stop wavering.
What I consider as criteria is documentation. I believe that the memoirs in Shonam are shaped in this historical domain and varied events; but this not enough for a historic and literary research about Holy Defence. It is the right for Kianoush to have such sizable memories related as a story, but historical reference to them is not acceptable. Generations after generations must read Shonam to learn about what really happened in the war. But credibility is hinged on reality not fiction. Shonam was the story of deployment of some 16 to 17-year-old lads to war, their mission, their loss, and their captivity and love (Kianoush stresses to refer to the latter as the human and emotional dimension of the story!); whatever they are, they all have happened. But Kianoush has benefited from the next findings and today's language.
The work's main ailment is its validity. At the beginning of the book, in the introduction, Kianoush stated he resorted to his memory for collection of the memories but then let the two Ali's (Rostami and Shabani) to proofread its manuscript; this is called reference to oral resources. He should not have confined his work this way. Rather, he could describe the mission in Kurdistan in a more researched fashion, while the closing parts of the book indicated his interest for such works. It is clear that he knows the scientific language.
Some of the session's guests endorsed publication of such books by Resistance Literature and Art Office. They revered the audacity of people like Morteza Sarhangi in this regard. Sarhangi believes that such realities play life to war. 
Furthermore, I should tell Mr. Akbari that Dear friend! Brother Nabat is praiseworthy for me for his perseverance and endurance. But all his merits can be believable only when the love story (or the emotional dimension of the story, for Kianoush's satisfaction!) of Shonam and Shilan is based on an admissible evidence.
In the middle of the session I asked Mr Golzar about the number of his published works. "Well, it was the first and the last one," he chuckled. So how could it be expected to cast a professional estimation on his work? This is up to the literati to make him aware of these facts.
Eventually, Kianoush Golzar Ragheb began his soft speech, thanked all the guests for their attention and answered some questions. He stressed the credibility of his memories despite being presented as a story book. He asserted that transmission of the events' profundity was his greatest concern.
As he explained his memories were linear with a wide span which includes many processes. More than any other publications, he argued, the book encompasses issues like Kurdistan, anti-revolution activities, Komoleh and democrats. However he admitted that the Shilan part of the book was an interface to manifest his inner feelings.
He stated that his family is living under a false name to preserve moral values and prevent some sort of damage to certain number of people.
He maintained that too much attention to Brother Nabat is in some way ignorance towards other martyrs mentioned in the book. Rather, he called for an independent work on Nabat.
He further added that he had to withhold details in some cases because of his alacrity for writing down his memories.
"I meant to tell the society why the youngsters loved and do love the war," he said explaining his intention to write such a book.
At the end of the gathering I let out a key point to the audience and told them that Shilan's character was based on a real person in Kianoush's life.
The session closed.
I think publication of the book is indebted to three persons:
1. Parvin Rezaei, for her spiritual greatness
2. Kianoush Golzar Ragheb for adding to the spiritual riches of the society by offering his memories, and
3. Morteza Sarhangi for opening new dimensions of the war to the society; the life …
The session owes a great deal of gratitude to the Foundation of Preserving Sacred Defense Values and Relics and the Hozeh Honari in Hamadan.
I am also grateful to meet a friend after 19 years in the session.
… and for it is enough that during this trip, my friend, who has been abroad for 19 years, after watching the museum garden of Hamedan, stood for prayers with me after 21 years. I should congratulate the five artists who won the Shonam-writing competition and received honor diplomas.

Writer: Mohsen Kazemi
Translated by: Abbas Hajihashemi



 
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