SABAH (109)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (109)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019



Two of his body guards were standing beside him. He wanted to say a word but the woman came and stood beside me too. The woman and Sayyad Shirazi recognized each other and greeted. He said: “What are you doing here? How did you get here at the first place?!”

I don’t remember whose name the woman brought up, I just saw him saying: “Where is the car of x?”

Sayyad Shirazi responded: “He filled the car and left.”

The woman said: “Now what should we do? How should we get to Behesht-e-Zahra?!”

Sayyad Shirazi said: “Wait, there are others going, I will ask them to take you!”

A few instances later, Sayyad Shirazi stopped a white Peykan car which was getting out of the area and asked the driver to take us. In the car besides the driver and three other man sitting in front, the female driver who had a baby in her arms and two other woman sitting in the back. Me and that woman went and sat in the back. Meaning four people were sitting in front and five in the back!

The car moved. The crowd were walking out of Mosalla in groups and there were whining and crying sounds heard. For one instance I noticed the pile of shoes that were in a corner of Mosalla. Some people had taken out their shoes for prayers and now they had left them behind. Maybe they didn’t know that the Corpse prayer doesn’t need any shoes to be taken out, or they wanted to walk barefoot behind his body with love and respect.

There were so much people and car that we hadn’t moved even for one kilometer in half an hour. The driver said that if we want to go from the main road, we won’t get to Argentine square until afternoon let alone getting to Behesht-e-Zahra. He had decided to go from an alternative route which was farther but would free us from the traffic. We hit the alternative route. The more we moved forward, the less the crowd became. About an hour later we were in Azadi square. The residence of the driver was around Azadi square. He went to his residence and dropped his wife and child there and we went towards Behesht-e-Zahra.

When we heard there, a big crowd had gathered but not so big that we wouldn’t be able to move. Imam and those individuals who were around him and protecting him like a jewel on a ring, hadn’t reached Behesht-e-Zahra yet. The car stopped in a place and couldn’t move forward. We had to get off and walk the rest of the way. We thanked the driver a lot and started to walk. I was still with the woman. Her presence was a blessing for me. I wasn’t sure that if I didn’t see her, would I be able to get myself to Behesht-e-Zahra so soon.

The agricultural lands that we had to pass, were all plowed and were slippery. When we walked, our feet got stuck in them and we moved slowly. The location that Imam was supposed to be buried there, were surrounded by containers; and there was no space between them. The army and disciplinary forces were also standing at the entrance of the containers.

I was talking to the woman when we noticed the humming sound of the crowd. All were climbing the containers. The army and disciplinary forces didn’t permit anybody to come up and stopped the crowd. There was a chaos. My heart was exploding inside my chest. For one second I noticed that the woman is not beside me anymore. I looked around for her but couldn’t find her. I had lost her. I was along. I stood in a corner. I didn’t know what to do. As I was looking around confused and was looking for a way to get to the other side of the containers, I noticed a small entrance between two containers and the crowd was dense there.

I tried to get there. I thought there must be a way to pass. It took me a long time to get to that entrance. As soon as I passed there, I saw a white and black van coming towards me with a lot of people on it or hanging from it. The car had a bumper made of humans and flesh. The car wanted to make a turn in the area but the area was so crowded that it couldn’t. For one second the car approached me so much that I had to attach myself to the container. The car stopped when it approached me; the tires were right beside my toe fingers. I was confused with the car when I noticed the trolley carrying the body of Imam.

Imam’s head and part of chest were out of Kafan. For one instance I remembered my visit with Imam in year 1357 (1978). When saying goodbye, I had kissed Imam’s shoulder with a gentle and light kiss; a kiss that its feeling could be felt in my body for years later. I was shaking and couldn’t talk. I had seen so many martyrs and dead people during war but none of them were similar to the body and face of Imam. I told myself God! Is it possible that a body who has been dead for three days, could be so vivid and beautiful. His face skin was succulent like the skin of some of the beautiful babies that were born by me. It was as if Imam was in deep sleep and would get up a few minutes later and come to Jamaran to see the public.

The car speeded away quickly since it was afraid that the people on it would fall down and he would lose control. As soon as the car moved away, I heard the voice of helicopter. My look had got stuck on the car.

As soon as the voice of helicopter was heard, the invasion of public to the area I was standing multiplied. It was a terrifying scene. I could see the death in front of my eyes. I felt that I couldn’t breathe anymore and I am breathless. I walked the two, three steps that I had walked forward, back and attached myself to the containers. A few minutes later, it was announced through microphone that due to the heavy load of crowd, the possibility for burial of Hazrate Imam doesn’t exist and the burial ceremony is postponed to later day. This announcement was repeated and the public were asked to move away. I moved away very difficultly. I felt that I have no energy in my feet and was trembling and was expecting to fall on the ground any minute.

I dragged myself towards the buses that were parked around the agricultural lands. A large number of buses were transferring the people away from the area. It was a chaos; a voice that seemed it was the place of mankind on the day of judgement.  The bus drivers were standing near their buses and were shouting the destination they were heading to. There was one bus heading to Ferdowsi square. I got in. I fell asleep before the bus moved. I was very tired.

Around one hour later, I got home. My mother was watching television. When she saw me, she got up. I threw myself into her arms. We both cried loudly. She didn’t ask me where I had been for the past three days. It was obvious from my dusty appearance and looks where I had been. Nobody was home. I asked: “Where are the others?” My mother said that they have gone to Behesht-e-Zahra for burial of Imam.” I said: “But I am coming from there. They said that Imam will be buried tomorrow, due to heavy load of people.” My Mother said: “No Sabbah! Come and see! They are bringing Imam with helicopter, they want to bury him now!”

I laid in front of television. I really felt that my life is going out of my body. The second helicopter landed too. Around half an hour after the landing of two helicopters, Imam’s body was brought out from the second helicopter. As soon as they brought Imam’s coffin out of helicopter and placed it on the ground, a strange dust surrounded the area. The earth had been waved by this sorrow. It was as if the soil was also mourning like the others.

Finally our prophet was buried. It was a bad feeling. A feeling that was never repeated anywhere. I was like a chicken with no feathers and was restless. I couldn’t sit at home. As soon as the burial ceremony was over, I told my mother that I wanted to go to Behehsht-e-Zahra to Imam. My heart is exploding. It is as if somebody is taking my heart out of my chest. I can’t stay at home. My mother didn’t say anything since she saw my feeling. She only said: “At least wait and eat a bite of bread. You are pale. It is obvious that you haven’t eaten anything in three days.”

I sat in a corner and extended my feet. My mother brought me a piece of bread and some cheese with a cup of tea. I ate two three bites and said goodbye to my mother and went out. The mourning of public coming from all parts of the country was worth to see. Each was mourning with his/her own style and tradition. The people from south, the people from North, Kurda, Lors, and Nomads and … among the public I saw Shamsi, daughter of our war-stricken neighbor from Ghasre Shirin, when I lived in Sari. She was with her family.

After about ten days I went to work. I had left my job without notifying and I knew how hard they are on these issues, therefore I was waiting to receive my firing letter or a disciplinary letter but it didn’t happen. Metron of the ward, who had seen me on that day, had applied for leave for me for my absence.


To be continued …


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