A review of the memories of Masoumeh Khansari Bozorgi-2

Memories of the First Dispatch

Faezeh Sassanikhah
Translated by: Fazel Shirazd


Note: The first part of the conversation with Masoumeh Khansari Bozorgi, an active woman during the holy defense era, was published last week. You can read the rest of this interview below.

When was your first dispatch?

My first dispatch was in November 1981 during operation Tariq Al-Qods. Of course, I must point out that the operations were not announced in advance; when I was sent, I was stationed at the Ahvaz Medical Aid Headquarters for a few days and worked for some time in the Ahvaz and Dezful Health Centers. That is, I was active until the beginning of the operation. I remember once I went to see Mr. Mortezaei give him a series of reports. I asked him: "Could I go to Tehran for leave? Or I should stay there for an ongoing operation?" He said, "Stay!" He did not say that the operation was ahead. The operation of Tariq Al-Qods was very difficult and was carried out in the area of Susangard and Bostan. We settled in a big hospital, which was said to be a camp for foreigners who used to work there. That area led to Mahshahr and Mahshahr was an oil area. All the rooms in the hospital were conex. That is, the rooms where each of us were stationed were small conex, but a little further away from the barracks was some buildings.

We were there until the end of the operation. Then we returned to Ahvaz and took on vacation. I returned to Ahvaz for operation Fath al-Mubin. I came to Tehran after the end of operation Fatah al-Mubin in April 1982. After that, my daughter Zahra was born and I became responsible for motherhood.

■Did you work behind the scenes in the support headquarters again?

Yes. But I did most of the activities, such as teaching the Qur'an and doing cultural works, and it continued until the end of the war.

■Explain more about your cultural activities!

My cultural activities are related to before the war. I went to religion in elementary school. There was a "New National" school was headed by Ayatollah Foumani, who was martyred by the Pahlavi regime and his family managed it after he became martyred.

I studied in elementary school there. The school was very religiously, Quranic, and politically active. I learned the Qur'an well there and we even had a rules class, because God Almighty had given me the power of expression that I could easily teach the children, the teacher gave me the responsibility of teaching the weak students, even the math teacher gave her responsibility to me. In the prayer meetings that were held in our house, I recited the Qur'an and, with the encouragement of my mother and father, explained the religious rulings. These activities made me a cultural person and able to speak or teach in public. I was a person of a book; I increased my studies during the revolution, of course, with a specific course of study. We went to every school that needed cultural work. For a while, I taught the Qur'an or did cultural and artistic activities in a school located in Harandi Square, then seriously and regularly in the Islamic school in Lavizan and in the villages around Tehran on Thursdays. For example, we held photo exhibitions of martyrs, book fairs in schools and mosques, and book reading competitions, and we tried to work on children's insights. Even in the summers, I taught the Qur'an for free in several schools in District 15 and mostly worked as an educator in schools. The teaching forces were very effective. Since 1988, I have been officially educated in District 12. I also taught the Qur'an and religion at the same time, because I had artistic taste and talent, I also paid attention to writing and directing because I believe that the language of art is very adequate. We participated in theater festivals and our school was always ranked.

At that time, there was no enough play. It was not possible to find a theater that is well-written for elementary and middle school students. More or fewer theaters were written for high school or older children, But there was nothing for younger ages; I wrote it myself. You don't believe it, I used to write a story in the theater with the little facilities there were. We brought curtains from the house, made curtains, bought and installed floodlights. We performed theater with the same simple facilities and it had a great impact on the children.

My cultural activities were not only related to Tehran or the time of the war. I even staged a play in the village of Manjilabad, located in Shahriar, during my time working with Jihad Sazandegi. In the village of Manjilabad, we taught the children the Qur'an or fiction, gave them storybooks, and helped them if they had scientific or educational problems. After the children, it was the adults' turn. In the evenings, we would hold Quran classes for the ladies, and in the evening, a car would follow us. Of course, we had to walk to the road, which was a long way. The same car would take us again and we would return to Tehran. Those were good days. People were good to each other, and with honesty, everyone helped each other. Maybe you don't believe it, once we were going to go to help people we saw an old woman gave us food; sometimes we would stay in a village for a few days. Maybe you believe it, we were settling in the house of someone who had nothing - because these villages did not have mosques - a few days later the villagers came to visit us and said come to our house today. We would go there and teach the children from morning till night.

We also performed in that village. I remember I took the curtain rod of my mother's house and installed it on the roof of the mosque. We installed the curtains and performed the play entitled, Qays Ibn Mosahar, the ambassador of Imam Hussein. People cried a lot. Besides, we performed the play, Bilal ibn Rabah, people were very moved and cried. The Quranic texts or verses that we read at the beginning and end of the play had a great effect on the audience. I wrote and performed religious plays for them about the history of Islam. My specialized work was not amateur. We looked at how others wrote theater, and we wrote. Of course, I studied in this field and learned from the experts. I attended and benefited from art field meetings.

All of this was in line to deepen their vision of Islam, or indirectly saying that man should pay for his beliefs, and Bilal ibn Rabah or Qays Ibn Mosahar are examples of such people. My theaters were more in the same way, although we also performed theaters with ethical points. For example, I saw that children have problems in some social relationships. I used to make a moral interlude according to verses and hadiths. I performed a short 1-minute, 2-minute play to remind students of ethical points.

We were generally in-depth readers and we studied very seriously, that is, we worked on topics in a series. For example, we started with cognition, worldview, anthropology, ideology, religion, religiosity, etc. At that time, there were very few books for each of these topics. For example, suppose we did not have many books on cognition. Martyr Motahhari had given a speech. With difficulty, my friend Zahra Ayatollah and I transcribed his speech.

In the summers, we taught art to children at Harandi School in the Darvazeh Ghar of Tehran. The children who lived in the Darvazeh Ghar at the beginning of the revolution were of a low material and cultural level. Compared to now, unfortunately, there was a lot of poverty at that time, and it was common for a student to come to school with slippers, even a parent's slipper, that is, the student wore his father's shoes. So when we wanted to buy a prize for these kids, we bought slippers. I had seen that area immediately after the victory of the revolution when we went to introduce the Islamic Republic. It was a strange situation; People built houses with oil barrels. The water was not piped and the people supplied water hardly, and do many other difficult works. The health situation, especially the health service, was awful. We were very worried for them heartily. Then there was a lot of corruption there. Because the houses did not have appropriate doors and walls. Until after the victory of the Imam Revolution, the mayor was ordered to take care of their situation; therefore, this situation became gradually better.

■How did you manage your plans to achieve both social activities and home plans?

Some of the activities I did at the time were related to the time when I was a bachelor. But, I get very little sleep. Imam Khomeini had given me self-improvement instruction that is why I did my best to follow and finally I slept 4 to 5 hours a day. In addition to social and cultural activities, we had personal programs. We exercised seriously and did more hiking and mountaineering. We used to climb a lot of mountains to increase the power of our souls. Fasting gives a person a lot of strength of soul. All scholars say that a person who fasts has a very high spiritual power. We fasted on Mondays and Thursdays. That's why we didn't get tired of anything. We were serious about making personal plans, and if we did not do so, we would punish ourselves. For example, if we were to read a certain amount of the Qur'an, exercise, help others or our parents and did not do so, we would reprimand ourselves and consider alternative punishment. Let us take the blessed sentence of Imam Ali (PBUH) as an example: "God should be at the top of your affairs."

■Thank you for giving your time to take the interview with the Iranian Oral History Website.

I also thank you. The role of women in the war is not very clear. If the fighters' wives complained to them and did not accompany them, it would not be possible for them to go to war. In the absence of their husbands, women solved and managed various problems themselves. They were just cooperating in the war support headquarters. These ordinary women, who did nothing special, when you interview them, you see how active they were when their husbands were on the front, and they raised the children and managed their lives so that their husbands could easily fight on the front. In the end, I ask God Almighty for a good end and that, as the martyr Sardar Haj Qasem Soleimani said, accepts us cleanly. Amine.

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