žCompanion of memories

maryam moghimi


Memories are facts which have found their place among all humans, they have always been preserved very well form the beginning. Every human''s life book envelops memories which are basics and frameworks of every relationship.

IBNA: Morteza Sarhangi was born in a rainy day in 1953 in one of Tehran''s old districts to a middle class family. His father was a mechanic of Tehran''s silos'' mills. He was 7 when they moved to Nazi Abad (neighborhood to the south of the central district of the city of Tehran). His elementary school witnessed his first memory writing steps.
As he received his diploma he went to Qazvin to study Social science and economy but it seems that his warm and intimate soul was a stranger to tough economical equations so he quitted and applied for his military service. Following the Islamic Revolution till 1988 his worked in Islamic Republic of Iran Daily.

After 1988 he established Resistance art and literature bureau with Hedayat-ullah Behboodi and a group of his friends.

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Posts: Manger of Resistance art and literature bureau / Head of Resistance literature and culture research and studies center

Profession: Journalist, expert of writing memories and reports about war, expert of Iraqi prisoner''s memories in Iran, expert of movies, was scripts and TV series and documents.

Background: Islamic Republic of Iran Daily, founder of Resistance art and literature bureau, head of Resistance literature and culture research and studies center.

Activities:

1. Supervising works of Resistance art and literature bureau.
2. Supervising books of the Congress of honoring Kerman and Sistan & Balouchestan martyrs
3. Judging several Holy Defense Book of the Year Festivals
4. Publishing articles, editorials and conversations in various journals and dailies and delivering speeches
5. Chief editor of 5 volumes of Resistance Book
6. Chief editor of 200 volumes of Kaman
7. Judging war movies and scripts in some festivals

Some of his works:

1. "The secrets of the imposed war narrated by Iraqi captives" (8 volumes)
2. "With the rain" – Report - Howzeh Honari
3. "My name is chafieh" –Children''s story- Howzeh Honari
4. "My name is bulwark"- Children''s story- Howzeh Honari
5. "Days of Khoramshahr" – Children''s story- Howzeh Honari
6. "Morteza was the mirror of my life" –Interview
7. "Travelling to the peaks" – Report
8. "…till victory"
9. "Garden of grape, garden of apple, garden of mirror" –Interview-
10. "Yadhaye Zolal" –Howzeh Honari
11. "Travelling to the path of Mahtab"
12. "Prayers, parents, guardianship" (2 volumes)
13. "10 days of seize in Vizan peak"
14. "Khoramshahr, where is Jahanara"- Interview
15. " Small house, big life"
16. "Our words"
17. "Every thing about war" – Howzeh Honari


You can read his interview below:

• Mr. Sarhangi you write about war. Why?

I don’t know anything else. I was a simple journalist who worked on war.

• What is the difference between war journalism and other field''s journalism?

War journalism works with incidents which have newsworthy facts during the war and turn into historical documents after the war. According to war historiographers an incident''s importance is its occurrence and its date. So a war journalist should be accurate and clever. As the war finishes tomorrow his news will be the basics of many analyses and his news should be intact.

• With what a perspective did you gather the war veteran''s memories?

Memory has a scientific explanation. Encyclopedia Britannica, Dictionaries as Dehkhoda and the other ones have defined the word as well.

Memory is remembrance of past which could be an incident, scene or an event. In war memories human''s narration dominates incident''s occurrence. Memory has a narrator and its context is oral, in fact you have to hear the narrator''s voice. Memories should repeat the incidents which you could describe for others. So it is close to a short story. They have to have historical and documentary value as well as attractiveness and literature. Memory is a oral document.

• During your work whose memories were more important for you?

Three types of memories exist overall. First one is about war veterans, second war liberals and third Iraqi captives'' memories. All these complete each other. Every published work is like a piece of brick which is placed in the structure of war literature. So we have prioritized them. But we were more rapid about Iraqi captives since we knew that they will leave Iran on day.

• During all these long years which you were working on war literature in particular memories, which one affected you?

Averagely every week I read a 200 page text. Some times I am amazed more than impressed. Sometimes I even cry.

• Why do you write more about Khoramshahr?

Khoramshahr''s liberation and fall was among the war''s vital incidents. I think that if our war in Khoramshar, though the resistance days though the days we battled for its liberation, is penned accurately a great part of the people''s motives will be determined. Another praiseworthy point; Khoramshahr was captured for 19 months. They have many things to say since they have seen many things which we didn’t.

• When you were talking with Iraqi captives how you felt about them?

When a war soldier is captured he is not a soldier anymore. He is a defenseless human who needs help. I know I was talking to my enemies but I felt no hatred. Even I was friends with some of them as well.

• Did your feelings towards Iraqis affect your writings?

During Iran and Iraq''s war Iraqis were mostly the victims. People who were afraid of the Ba''ath regime were oppressed.

So if we write a note about the war how could we ignore Iraqis? The war was imposed to them as well.

• How much did you believe them?

The Iraqis memories were more than an incident. They talked about a power which had grabbed their life and youth and had sent them to battlefields and war capturing camps. Through talking they desired to take revenge from their countries'' governors. They talked against the war which they were its soldier. In fact the anti-war literature is a confessing literature. For instance German''s literature which defamed Hitler and the Nazis. The Iraqi captures sought their commander''s humiliation. On the other hand they wanted to offer their debt to the Iranians.

• What result you are trying to reach via compiling the memories?

War memories are historical savings. Every day a literary and spiritual data should be added. Those who come after us should enjoy the works more than us. Bon appetite!

• Please talk about resistance literature and arts?

Please let me talk about today''s resistance literature and art with slightly ignoring the WWII, which had more than 50 million victims. How couldn’t this catastrophe impress the life of a author or artist. He opens a new front in the war and joins the soldiers with his works. On the other hand sometimes soldiers join the artists and authors while they create works which become a country''s lasting invest. Wars impress human''s life unquestionably. Art and literature who accompany humans consistently don’t leave him alone during wars.

• Why you decided to establish such an office?

A center will be established to collect war works and documents as wars conclude in the world. Since 1986 such a plan came to my mind and Mr. Behboodi''s which was remained unfolded. Following the war I talked about the matter with Mr. Zam, the head of Howzeh Honari who announced agreement. But another concern existed; as the war didn’t conclude according official''s desire ignoring the works were considered naturally.

• During those days what restrictions existed for journalism?

These days are not comparable to those days. Every period has its own difficulties. For working good and good work-in particular journalism- considering and preserving national interests are very vital.

• Do you like to present your quarter of a century experiences as a book?

I still work and toddle like a child. Let me go on so till I reach the end of my life.

• Your writings are simple and friendly. Does it have any specific reason?

My pen only understands that if it happens to write a few lines they have to be readable. My pen likes to talk with others not for others. There is a significant distance between "with" and "for". Don’t you think so?

• How many hours do you study in a day?

I usually remain in my office till 9pm or even more. I am accustomed to work at nights since the dailies I worked with were mostly morning newspapers. Morning newspapers mean working at nights. I have decided to read at least 50 pages in a day. I have to read many books which are awaiting publication. If I read fewer books fewer works will be published. I use every single opportunity for reading.

• What type of books do you read more?

Firstly I read poetry books, then biography of great clergymen. Reading makes me feel clam. These books are full of energy and unearthly attractions.

• Mr. Sarhangi I think that the first biogrophy of Iraqi captives in Iran was the book of "10 days of siege", how such a thing happened?

Just like that! The incident occurred in Kahrizak camp! It was winter 1986. During those days I used to visit the camp and interview Iraqi captives. On day a young officer came for conversation who I felt was specking very well. Indeed he was picking the words with obsession.

• You don’t know Arabic? Do you?

No I had an interpreter. But I got to learn a part of the language by interviewing Iraqi captives'' in particular military expressions. I remember that day was a rainy one and we sitting in pre built rooms.

• Why did you pen his memories?

His words attracted me. He was talking with all his senses, hands and eyes. I hadn’t seen such an Iraqi captive talking like this. When the translator rendered his talks into Persian I learned that his humanity narration is more significant than that his incident narration, although the incident was attractive and significant but his words were honest as well.

• You remember his words so clearly you must be remembering his face as well?

How can I forget him! Even today while 27 years pass I can still recognize him. He had a round and dark face and black eyes. He had on navy blue cloths. He conveyed all his energy to me as sometimes I thought I wasn’t an active interviewer.

• Do you remember his name?

No. but I can find it in my notes. I can refer to my notebook and find his name and address. One day I will certainly do so since the next impressions will be released by his name.

• So you told him that you were ready to publish his memories?

Indeed I intruded him. He was all excitement. While he was talking I said that please just wait a minute!

• Was he surprised?!

Yes of course. I was just looking at me and the translator. I told him that firstly you talk very well, second you hold a history B.A and 3rd you are a teacher. So you know the value of war incidents and soldier''s memories. Moreover your memories have the unity of location and time; you were in Kalehghandi for 10 days and you were held captive. Now can you joy down those 10 days?! When the translator translated my words for him he looked very shore. But I felt that he needed to talk.

• Was he a noncommissioned officer?

Yes! I believe that he had a great prose. I told him that if his writing was as beautiful as his talking he would have wrote one of the best war books.

• Had you told him that his memories were to be published as a book?

No! His position in war was totally fictional. I knew that if he would have written his memories it would enjoy a fictional structure with a true theme.

• You mean that his memories had fictional elements?

Naturally yes. When you see something enjoys good quality you try to achieve it.

• If the Iraqi officer didn’t will to write his memories what method would you have chosen to narrate them?

The same conversation method, as I had no more choices and knew that his memories were new and surprising. On the other hand my narrator wasn’t a simple soldier; he was educated and studied history. I used his experiment which I will tell you later.

• You told me that the Iraqi officer had something to say about you proposal. What was that?

Yes, when he heard it he spoke with my translator. They talked a bit then my interpreter said that he was ready to write his memories. But he had a responsibility in the camp, which toke a lot of time. He was demanding to shun the responsibility to have time to write down his memories. The interpreter was the camp''s senior who said would solve the problem.

• He didn’t want to have responsibilities?

Yes, of course and he had the right to. Moreover he even wanted more time. I think that his writing toke a month which were authored in 2 or 3 notebooks.

• Did you visit him during that period?

I visited him once in every few days in which my translator accompanied me. I use to review his context and obviously he knew the writhing style as well. Grammar signs, short sentences, dialogues and etc were all considered.

• While he was writing his memories were you still gathering other captives'' memories?

Yes. But he had attracted all my mind and attention.

• Why?

No other captive could write or speak like him. Moreover their memories were not even beautiful as his.

• Do you remember the last day in which he concluded his writing?

Yes. It was raining again. I waited till he and the interpreter came and he handed over the notebooks which enveloped the memories and I told him Khalas(Arabic word meaning conclusion)? Both of us laughed, sometimes he laughed when I spoke Arabic. I couldn’t even correctly pronoun the few words I had learned.

• Have you kept those notebooks so far?

Yes of course.

• And then?

We chatted a bit. He talked about his writings and believed that the ending was very beautiful which I comprehended following reading. He had seen a dream which had merged with reality. He perfectly used his dream for his memories. I thanked him a lot since he did a lot for me. Since the autography was my first work I had a sweet concern. I was so happy gaining the note books that I cancelled all the day''s interviews in the camp. I left the officer and interpreter and went back to my office directly to the translation service.

• Did you have an Arabic translator in the daily?

Yes, a gentleman called Matlab, but I haven’t heard of him since many years. He was the one who translated "10 days of seize". The memories were published in the same year, 1986, as footnotes in Islamic Republic daily. As the war concluded they were released as a book which was published twice.

• Don’t you want to publish the book again?

Yes of course. I will hand the book over to a publisher with a new introduction; I may add the conversation to the book as well whereas the work is the first autography book penned by an Iraqi officer. The matter enjoys importance since 10 days of seize" opened a new way for me to compile Iraqi captive''s memories. In fact I compiled and published 60 book titles enveloping Iraqi captive''s memories.

• The number is quite considerable, isn’t it?

It is indeed. It could be great for a simple journalist but it''s too little for war.

• And finally the last question! Are the memories of Iraqi militants, written in Iran, a beginning of authoring the literature of Iraqi''s anti-war?

I think so my self. Iraqi''s war literature started from Iran. If Iraqi''s start to live happily, which I don’t seem happening so soon, then it will the turn of writing memories of Saddam''s prisons and war memories which was imposed by the Ba''ath party. If such a thing happens then "10 days of seize" will be the first book on the filed. At least I think so!

• Please suggest a name for the interview?
žCompanion of memories



 
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