SABAH (50)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (50)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019

Chapter eleven

Finally, the sun dawned on the morning of twenty first day of first month of autumn. The Iraqis had stricken the city constantly since last night; without having even one-hour rest. We were in the office that the constant horning of a car at the entrance caught our attention. Usually when a driver brought an injured in critical situation, he horned like that to inform us. In five seconds, I reached the entrance of the office, standing in front of the Jeep that had injured on board. Two three other girls also joined me. Two commandoes jumped out of the car immediately and said: “Sister, we have injured soldiers.”

We followed them to the rear of the car to receive the injured. I was shocked. I could not believe what I was seeing. The injured was a commando who was sitting on the chair quietly and had nothing upper his nose. Although his skull was there, but there were only holes full of blood instead of his eyes and eyes brows and forehead and there were thorn fleshes hanging from his skull. It was not obvious whether they were his brain or forehead fleshes! Clotted flows of blood were on his face. The shrapnel had hit his forehead and took both eyes.

I was standing there shocked without saying a word. The rest of the girls were the same. I was looking at the injured and patient commando with surprise that one of his friends shouted at me: “Sister, what are you doing? Why don’t you take action?!”

I came to myself. I told them in a very low tone: “We have to take him to the hospital in an ambulance. Tell the ambulance driver to bring the vehicle here.”

The commando ran towards the ambulance parked outside the office. The driver came very close to the rear of the Jeep and opened the back door. I was not myself really. I extended my hand towards the injured commando and said: “brother, give me your hand. We have to move to the ambulance.”

I was surprised by his silence and tranquility. Wasn’t he feeling any pain that he could sit in the rear of the Jeep and put his hands covered in dust and blood on his knees and keep silent?! Without any other words, he just told me: “no sister! Just tell me where to go.” I said: “ok, as you wish.”

He got up and got hold of the vehicle. I said: “Come forward one step and put your foot on the ground carefully.”

He seemed to be around twenty-four, five years of age. He was tall and had a masculine body. When he stood up, I could see his big physical features more. His fellow soldier rushed to hold his hand and help him get into the ambulance, but he said: “No. please let me do it myself.”

He did not let anybody help him. No matter male or female. He was zealous. He took steady and firm steps. I had a special feeling to see him walk; a new and strange feeling that I had not experienced before. He got into the ambulance slowly and under my guidance. He did not lie down and preferred to sit. The blood was still flowing on his face. I felt like a devastated person who did not know what to do. I jumped in the rear of the ambulance and instructed the driver to move. Every second counted for an injured person like him. When we moved, I told him: “Brother, lie down. You will suffer like this.” He said: “on the contrary, I am more comfortable in sitting position.”

I could not comprehend his situation. His voice was steady. For sure he had pains? So why wasn’t he nagging? I did not know with what sense he was talking; he was young and had pride, or he had a strong belief which kept him so in control of his condition. The ambulance was moving in full speed towards the hospital with lots of movements and also bumps created due to the raids on the city.

There were blood clots on his face and clothes. When I looked at his wound, I felt pain in my back. His wounds were so deep that two fingers could easily go through the holes in his face. I was stunned by his patience and resistance. To me that wound would let him live for another hour.

We got to Taleghani hospital. The driver made a few constant horns informing the guard at the entrance that there is an injured soldier in the vehicle. The ambulance went inside the yard quickly and stood near the building of the hospital. The driver got out and opened the door. As I knew that he would not let anybody help him, I said nothing and only guided him. He got out of the ambulance himself.

Two three nurses came to receive the injured soldiers. They were shocked to see the wound on his face and the fact that he was still standing. They surrounded him and made him lie down on the gurney. As soon as they placed him on the gurney, his body was stretched, and his neck and head went inside his shoulders and chest. In a few second, his head fell to one side.

The commando had been martyred. I started crying standing above him. I had held back my tears in the ambulance. Although it was a miracle that he had survived that far, but I felt restless seeing him martyred. It was sad that such a zealous young man had departed.

I stayed for a while and returned to the office. I cried silently on my way back. Courage of this commando had moved my heart. I was sure that I would not forget that day[1]. When I narrated the toughness of this commando and his manly martyrdom to the team members, they all cried. That day passed with the memories of that commando. I was introvert until night and was not in the mood. What a bad world …

During the night of twenty second day of the first month of autumn, the one-on-one clashes between our soldiers and Iraqis mounted in Taleghani district. The fighting method in Khorramshahr was special. The Iraqis and the defenders of the city were scattered all over the city. In chase and runs of this guerrilla and urban fights, different districts of the city changed hands between Iraqis and our forces. The soldiers who commuted to the office to bring injured, gave us the news. Nobody could sleep until morning. The soldiers brought injured soldiers to the office; injured whose wounds were obvious due to one-on-one battles.

Until eleven o’clock at night of the next day, meaning twenty third of the first month of autumn, the situation was insecure and alarming. We had no time to rest. The number of injured was high. We had to send some of them to the hospital. We divided the tasks. Men delivered the injured to the hospital and the girls attended to the injured at the office. The Iraqis were so close that we rarely had any soldiers wounded by shrapnel. Most of the soldiers were shot point blank.

I had forgotten about my wound and shrapnel. Last night was the third night that I had fever and chill. This nasty fever did not want to go away. Dr. Sa’adat told me that I had fever because I had no rest and my body had weakened. He was right. I had done a lot in the past two three days. In that situation, rest really was not an option. I either had to leave the city and rest or stay or try to be helpful. My fever might have been due to the unsterilized pence which Khalil Najar had put in my wound.

I heard devastating news from the injured. All of them narrated the high presence of the military forces of the enemy and their greed to siege the city. They all said that we could not resist more with bare hands. They were right. They had no forces and equipment to fight and were fighting with their bodies.

I resented the inefficiency of the government. As the time passed, I comprehended the depth of their treason more. It was not obvious that the cursed Bani Sadr had made fun of whom with his words. Ghouchan armor army had not reached after twenty days! I wish I could get some news of Ali.

As of twenty second of first month of autumn, all the girls in the office were armed. We had reached the point that we could not wait in the office for the injured to arrive. Due to high number of martyrs and helpless forces, there was nobody to move the bodies and get them somewhere for help. They all had to stay and resist in front of Iraqis. Therefore we went out of the office. We looked in the streets and backstreets of the office like Farkhre Razi Street and the streets behind the mosque for the injured.  

The transfer of the injured to hospital had a slow pace. We had no vehicle and fuel left. We barely could get hold of a vehicle. We had to attend to them temporarily and try to stop the bleeding until we could move them to the hospital.

The venue of the kitchen changed for the third time. The Iraqis had located the kitchen using the fifth column forces and targeted it. When we were in the mosque, we could sometimes see that a part of the city would light up like a torch and then turned off for two three times as if they were trying to send a message via that light.

In such cases we knew that they are reporting the location of a place.

At night, Dr. Sa’adat read Tavasol prayer again. During the recent few nights, we had Tavasol prayer each night. We were so suppressed emotionally that we were looking for an opportunity to lighten our souls. We said the Tavasol prayer in absolute darkness. The thought of fall of the city and its siege by Iraqis did not leave me alone for one minute. Although nothing was left of our lives and except for Fouziyeh and Shahnaz I had no accurate update on my family, God knows that each drop of tear on my cheeks was from the sad feeling of seeing Khorramshahr fall and be sieged by the enemy. We knew that we had to leave the city sooner or later. We had already gone too far by staying until that moment.

Every once in a while the Iraqi tracer bullets lightened the city. The sounds of explosions were heard constantly. Ashraf, Belgheys, Mehrangiz, Keshvar, Ms. Akbari and I were the only women who had stayed in the office by then. Although it was night and time to rest, but we were on full alert. We had tightened our shoes and scarves and our weapons were clean and armed. It was not obvious what would happen in the next few minutes. Our concern was more from the roof entry. I thought constantly that the Iraqis will enter the building from the rooftop. We were ready for shooting and clashes.

I constantly remembered the night of tenth day of first month of autumn; the night when the Iraqis hit the army headquarters and martyred the army soldiers. I felt that a similar destiny is waiting for us. I only prayed to God in my heart, that if a mortar bomb or cannon ball hits the office; my clothes will remain intact and keep cover of my body. Under the light of the tracer bullets, fear was in the eyes of all of us, but despite the fear we tried to comfort each other.

The ground was not solid under our feet even for one second. Every minute a wall dropped in front of our eyes causing dust and fire and smog. The enemy was using all its strength to siege Khorramshahr; eighty mortar bombs, RPGs, 106 cannon balls, five-five were striking the city and ….


To be continued …


[1] Later, I heard a quote from Martyr Dr. Beheshti that revived the incident of that day clearly. Dr. Behashti said: we would be the immortal standing soldiers of the history. The commando was really the immortal standing soldier of the history. He had pride and resisted to his martyrdom and played death. 


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