SABAH (52)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (52)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019



I heard from injured that Sheikh Sharif has compiled a number of defense forces and is resisting around the customs. We became hopeful hearing this news besides the news from Major Sharif Nasab and commandoes’ resistance.

In Abouzar team, there was a young boy called Mostafa who had green eyes. He was from Khorramshahr and hardly sixteen seventeen years old and his beard had not grown yet. I had seen him several times while transferring the injured to hospital. On twenty third day, soldiers who brought the injured to the office, informed us that Mostafa had been hit by shrapnel and martyred instantly. As they narrated, the shrapnel had taken the head entering from the eyes. I felt so agitated hearing the news of martyrdom of Mostafa in that situation. Mostafa had given the most beautiful part of his face for God.

Around eleven o’clock at night on twenty third day, the situation became calmer and the volume of fire by Iraqis decreased. I felt so hungry. I had barely had any proper meal during the past twenty-three days. Since the kitchen was closed, we only had a few dry dates to eat on ration portions. In the past, the provision of food for the office fell under the responsibility of the kitchen. They brought us one portion of meal on daily basis.

Considering the situation, we were sure that we had to leave the office in the next one two days. The Iraqis were near and there was no possibility to stay. There was a probability that they would attack us from the rooftop. Khalili said: “let’s help each other to collect our equipment. We can not stay here anymore.”

In the calm atmosphere, we started to pack the items in the office. We packed all the medicines as well as bandaging equipment. We placed them inside RPG bullet boxes. In  the past, we had resisted to stay there but now  that we could hear the Iraqis talking to each other in the backstreets of the office, we were worried that we might cause problems for the fighters. We were not worried for ourselves not as much as we were worried of the problems we could cause.

On the morning of twenty fourth day, we were ready to move. We placed the boxes in the back of an ambulance which had come to office to transfer any possible injured to the hospital. At sunrise we came out of the office and I saw Hassan Siah standing on the other side of Enghelab street. As soon as he saw me, he waved at me and said: “Hello, Sister Sabah!”

I had not answered his greeting yet when a bullet hit the forearm of the same hand that he had raised to greet me! His right hand was shot. Hassan Siah dragged himself towards the wall quickly and sat on the ground quietly. I wanted to approach him but I was afraid I might be shot too. I yelled: “come inside the office.”

Under the cover of fire line of the army forces, he passed the street and came in. Khalil Najar bandaged Hassan Siah’s hand. Then he hung his hand with a textile to his neck. Hassan Siah wanted to go back to the fighters. The army forces formed a fire line for him and he went back. We all understood that the Iraqis have progressed last night and have stationed opposite Enghelab street and opposite Jame mosque. It was hard to believe. The Iraqi forces were only a few feet away; somewhere exactly opposite us.

A few hours after this incident my father came to office. Although I had seen him yesterday, but only God knew how happy I was to see him. My father said: “Sabbah jan, don’t you want to go?! The situation is very dangerous. We cannot stay here any longer.”

I wanted to tell my father that we had packed and ready to move but at the same time, two injured were brought in. Both were shot in the upper part of the body. The team members brought then holding their hands and feet from two sides. I received them and placed them on the beds. My father was silent for a few seconds and looked deeply at the injured and left the office with his head down and without saying a word. He did not even wait to see whether I will go with him or not. It was as if my father had received my answer to his question as soon as the injured arrived. Their situation was critical, and I could not leave them there and follow my father. The shrapnel had hit their chest and stomach and had excessive hemorrhage.

One minute after my father had left, a mortar bomb hit near the office. I wanted to go to the entrance to see where it has hit, that I saw two people dragging my father inside the office. I was shocked. I could not believe that my father could have been wounded that easily. The shrapnel had hit his shoulder and he was covered in blood until his waist.

The blood was pouring on the ground from the wound. They placed him on the bed procumbent. One shrapnel had hit between his shoulders and two others had hit his waist[1] and palm. I was standing above his head with Najar. Khalil Najar was trying to find a vein to inject. I felt hatred. I felt pity for him. Although three shrapnel had hit him and he was in a lot of pain, but he controlled himself not to moan. He believed that a man should not cry and moan. 

We could not do anything for the shrapnel who had hit his waist and shoulder. I placed a gauze on the wound. The wound at the hand could be disinfected and bandaged. I wanted to bandage his hand myself. I acted quickly. I was placing a splint in his hand when Shahnaz and Parvaneh Ghazi Zadeh came. When they came, I noticed that the Iraqis have withdrew due to the resistance of our forces. If this was not the case, then every movement like waving a hand for greeting, would be shot by the enemy forces.

Shahnaz was shocked to see father and his body covered in blood. She was staring at him with eyes full of tears and did not say a word. My father had turned bluish from the severity of pain. It was obvious that he suffered a lot while breathing. Later I had heard from the doctors in the hospital that those injured who go into this stage are called Cyanosis. Shahnaz said in a trembling voice: “Sabbah! What has happened to father?” I said: “Nothing. Don’t be afraid. Thanks God his wound is not deep.”

I told her what had happened. As time passed, breathing became harder for my father. His inhale and exhaling had become irregular and long. We had to get him to the hospital quickly. I had told Shahnaz that his wound is not deep, just to comfort her but it was obvious from his breathing condition that the shrapnel had hit his lung and harmed it and had to be removed. We placed him in the ambulance with two other injured and we got in too. There was not much space, but we had no choice. We got in by force and went to the hospital.  On the way to the hospital, my father said constantly: “I can not breath easily. I can not breath.” I told: “Open your mouth and try to breath slowly. We are almost there.”

The driver of the ambulance was going full speed. Instead of passing Chehel Metri street, we went from the shore of the river meaning Imam Khomeini street. Iraqis had sieged Chehel Metri street. Shahnaz hold my father’s hand all the time. He kissed his hand and was crying constantly. She was very sensitive and emotional and did not have the nerves to see blood and felt bad. We took the three injuries to Taleghani hospital.

17 June – 286

There was a fraise in the hospital. Lots of injured soldiers had arrived. Their number was so big that you could see the precipitancy in the behavior of the hospital personnel. The Iraqis had used a lot of pressure since this morning. They took my father to surgery room immediately. After one hour, the operation finished but the color of his skin was not normal yet and his face was a bit dark. Then they took him to ward and put a cast on his hand.

I knew that when a person is hit in lung by bullet or shrapnel, after the surgery, they use a device called chest tube. Chest tube was a hose. One side was inserted into the lung to drag blood or plasma out of the lungs. I had seen many injured soldiers in the hospital having that chest tube attached to them. But my father had no chest tube when he came out of recovery. I asked the nurse who brought him out of the surgery room: “Why my father does not have a chest tube?” she replied: “He doesn’t need a chest tube!” I said: “He doesn’t?! So why did you take him to surgery?” She said: “I took him to take out the shrapnel which was in his waist and hand.” I said: “This means you really did not notice that his lung and shoulder has also been hit by shrapnel?! How come you did not notice this volume of blood on his back?! You removed the shrapnel in his waist, but you did not see a few centimeters away?! How can such a thing happen?!”

The nurse was shocked with what I said. He lifted my father’s clothes. The volume of injured was so high that they did not have the time to remove their clothes in surgery ward. When she saw that his shoulder has been hit by bullet, said: “We thought this blood was coming from his waist.” I said: “My father is suffocating, and you are telling me that you thought!”

I raised my voice. It was not in my control. They took him back to surgery room. The hospital was full of people and the operation room was so busy that they had not noticed the shrapnel in my father’s lung.

After one hour, they brought my father. Thanks God his general condition was good. His skin color was much better. I told Shahnaz: “Will you stay with father? I will go to office and return?” She said: “Yes, I will stay. You go.”

It was around noon that I returned to the office. The bullets were all in the air and passed our faces and bodies like red bees wheezing. In the office, team members asked out my fathers’ condition. I told them what had happened and said that at the moment he is fine thanks God.

After a while, the constant horning of the ambulance was heard; after that the voice of a person who was shouting that there are injuries here, was heard. Poor man was shouting constantly and asking for help. He said that his patient is very bad and if we do not attend to him, he will be martyred. I ran outside quickly. The ambulance had no rear door. I looked at the injured. The shrapnels had squashed his chest to knee. All his chest and stomach and thighs were raptured and misshaped and were not easy to distinguish. His situation was very bad but he was still alive. We should not wait even for a second. Mousavi had sat in front of the ambulance and had come to office. They wanted to dismount the wounded soldier but somebody, whom I do not remember now, said: “We can not do anything for him here. He has to go to hospital.”

Mousavi was sitting in front and did not get out. I went beside the car window and asked: “Are you coming to the hospital or not?”

No answer. I moved my hand involuntary towards the door handle and opened the door. All of a sudden Mousavi feel in my arms. It was so sudden that I had to grab my scarf with one hand since it was falling from my head. I did not understand what happened. When I had walked towards the ambulance or even before that when I had come out of the office and saw him, it seemed that he is sitting in a normal position in the front seat and is looking straight.

The ambulance driver saw what happened and rushed towards me. He took Mousavi from my arms and lied him on the ground. I tightened the knot in my scarf and bended over Mousavi. I thought to myself that he might be tired and insomnia and pressure of tasks might have caused him to faint. I said: “What has happened Mousavi? Why did you fall suddenly? Do you hear me?!”


To be continued …


[1] I later found out that the shrapnel had hit his chromosomal bone. God had mercy on him so much that he was not paralyzed on the spot

Number of Visits: 187


Full Name:
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