SABAH (28)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2020-09-22


SABAH (28)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019


Chapter Seven

The Iraqi planes started their attacks from midnight. We could not rest for even a second in the mosque. Many injured were brought in. Khalil was busy the whole time. I stood by his side and did whatever I could. I heard from injured soldiers that the Dezh garrison is falling. They said that seven Iraqi tanks have invaded the city from Khorramshahr border. The Guard Corps members have blown the Khorramshahr Bridge (Pole Noe) to delay the enemy invasion.[1] The situation was not good. We were losing the city.

When there was not much to do anymore, I left the mosque. I saw two schoolmates of mine near the mosque. They were both members of MKOs. They mostly socialized with Marjan and her friends. I was surprised to see them there. It was not in their beliefs and thoughts to stay in the city and defend it. We greeted each other and shook hands. I asked them: “where are you and what are you doing?”

I was curious to know why they haven’t left the city. They said: “we are stationed in a near Hoseyniyeh near Jameh mosque with a few friends.” I asked them what they do there. She said: “nothing, we clean the trashes from the city.”

At first I thought I had misunderstood them. Therefore I asked surprised: “So, what do you do?!” they said: “trash, we collect garbage.”

I could not refrain my laughter and surprise. I said in a special tone: “you collect garbage in this situation?! There are many corpses left on the ground without identification and you collect garbages? Then what you do with those garbage?!”

They didn’t expect to hear these from me. They got angry. They said:” this is a service! There are a lot of dead animals and garbage all over the city and somebody should collect them or not!”

All those non-sense from Bani Sadr on one side, lack of support of our soldiers left as strangers on the other and now hearing these people talk made my heart heavy. I felt that I have never seen Khorramshahr this strange and lonely. All should have been united under such circumstances and defend the city whereas everybody was doing his/her own thing, and this was the enemy’s intention.

The issue of collecting garbage by MKO in such a situation seemed suspicious and I knew that I should not ignore it. I discussed it with Mr. Mahmoud Farrokhi who was a trusted person in mosque. Mahmoud was the son of Haj Agha Farrokhi, owner of a religious book store in Khorramshahr. He also owned a public bath. Mr. Farrokhi was one of the most trusted and revolutionary individuals of Khorramshahr. His book store was in Safa market and his two sons, Mahmoud and Ghasem, were working there.

I saw Mahmoud in his father’s book store for the first time; a true believer, shy and modest. He was a brunet who had lost eyesight in an hour during childhood and was blind in one eye. He was an active and agile. They knew us well since Shahnaz and I frequented the bookstore a lot. I saw Mahmoud the first day of Saddam’s attack, when I went to the mosque. He had come to the mosque with his father to help. Since I knew them and was familiar with their school of thought, I went to him and discussed the issue of MKOs with him. I asked him to go and check out what they were doing.

Mahmoud whom we called brother Mahmoud, was a stringent and careful and punctilious person. I noticed his qualifications during the days I was in the mosque. Although he had no direct contact with us but it was obvious that he notices everything. Mahmoud heard what I had to say and said:” Sister Sabah, let’s schedule for tomorrow and go there to find out what is happening.”

At night, after the prayer, Nahid, who was really angry with me following our talk, dragged me to a corner in the mosque and said: “Sabbah did you know that your name is in the black list?!” I said: “no, I didn’t! What is a black list?” she said: “those who are in black list are those who have security issues. When the war is over, there have to appear in the military court for trial.” I said:” ok what will happen next?!” she said: “you will be sentenced to execution. You have to wait for execution since you have said things against the President!”

I was both angry and amused. What was she thinking by saying these non-sense to me?! I said in a cool way: “Nahid, dear! Are you threatening me with execution?! I wouldn’t have stayed here if I was afraid of dying. Who knows if we make it to the next hour?! Now you are threatening me with execution and military court?!”

Nahid was listening to me in silence. I continued: “I still insist on what I said earlier. Mr. Bani Sadr is betraying his country instead of serving it!”

As soon as, the word “betrayal” came out of my mouth, Nahid got furious and said: “you are talking non-sense again Sabbah! Watch your words!” I said: “you can think as you wish Ms. Nahid! But if you look more carefully, you’ll realize that he is doing nothing, and it is nothing but betrayal! Be wise and think, was it not really possible to send the artillery of a city closer to Khoramshahr to us? Ghouchan artillery which is the farthest to us had to be sent to Khorramshahr?!”

Nahid got wrathful and walked away without saying a word. Maybe she thought that if she stays and argues it might get worse. That day passed. We had to wait for tomorrows to come.

Early in the morning, we woke up with the screams of a woman running towards the mosque and came to the yard. The woman came to the middle of the yard and started hitting herself without saying a word. She hit herself and tore her hair. We ran towards her. She was in a strange state. She was yelling whole heartedly and was crying and hitting herself. Even two three people could not stop her. Among the screams we could hear her saying: “oh my God, my baby… oh my God, my baby…!”

A few moments later, she crumbled on the ground, breathless and spent. We asked her again what had happened. While pounding her fist on her chest she said: “yesterday afternoon our house was bombarded and my young teenager was martyred.” The city was small and almost everybody knew each other. I wanted to know about her family so that if anyone from their friends and relatives come looking for them, I have something to tell them. I asked: “what is your family name?” she answered: “Shahidi.” Then continued: “we took my son’s body to Jannat Abad to be abluted and buried with the help of neighbors but there were other bodies to be handled that we put him in a corner so that we can do the burial tomorrow. Today I went to get his body but they only gave me his head and told me that the dogs have eaten his body and tore it apart last night….”

She went into a panic attack again from her own words. She stood up, started yelling and hitting her head and face. We were all shocked by her words. Was it possible? Our faces were covered in tears. I could not even imagine the scene which she was talking about. I would start by thinking about the teenager’s martyrdom and go to Jannat Abad and that night but then again my mind would circle back to the explosion of her house and the martyrdom of her son. It was as if someone would stop the video in my mind right at the point of the dogs’ attack and rewind it to the beginning.

We looked at each other shocked and confused and were crying voicelessly. We did not know what to say. I told her: “how can this be possible? Maybe you are wrong. Maybe the head did not belong to your son!”

She wouldn’t listen. She was moaning constantly and calling her son. She was praising her son. She repeated: “may your mother die for your beautiful body … may your mother die for your nice face …”

We were still in shock that a tall and tawny young woman walked into the mosque. She stood at the entrance for a minute and looked around, then she walked towards the crowd gathered around the woman and started spitting on men’s faces! She did it very fast as if she was conducting a military inspection and started yelling: “you have no honor! You have no honor! You have no honor! You have all gathered in the mosque for what?! You are protecting your children and women from whom? Instead of taking a gun and defending the corpses from the rabid dogs, you are hiding here? Where is your honor? You are hiding here not knowing what is happening to people?! Do you call yourselves men? Go and shave your face and sit besides your women …”

The more she shouted, the more nervous and anxious she became. Her mouth was dry and she was pale. We were all looking at her with no reaction towards her affront. I think we were still shocked by the mother. We didn’t know how she had found out about the incident with the boy and come to the mosque. She kept disgracing and talking until she started shivering and passed out. She went into hysteria. Her eyes were frozen on one point and white foam was coming out of her mouth. We turned her to the side, and I put a sac strap in between her teeth. I had learnt how to deal with epilepsy in rescue trainings.

 

To be continued …

 


[1] This story is mentioned in the Diary of the Iran-Iraq War, Book 4, Global Invasion, Major Invasion and Progress in Iraq, Publisher of the Center for War Studies and Research of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, p. 132.



 
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