SABAH (38)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (38)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019


They put the martyrs in the Blazer and the injured in the ambulance. The foot of one of the injured soldiers had been cut from knee down and was hanging by a piece of skin. It was hanging from the ambulance. I was afraid that his foot could be torn in the dark and nobody would notice. I walked closer and grabbed his foot covered in dust and blood with two hands and placed it besides its owner with care. My hand became warm from his blood. I had a strange feeling. The injured person had closed his eyes and was trying to cope with his pain and did not notice what I did. He was whispering “God is Great!” and was clutching the ambulance floor.

They decided to send the martyrs and injured people to Taleghani hospital in Abadan. Before that, they agreed to take the ambulance to the mosque and dismount those with light injuries and then take the severely injured to the hospital; the martyrs would have been given to the morgue. When the Blazer and ambulance set out, we returned running to the mosque. It was about ten minute walk to the mosque in the dark of the night. When we got to the mosque, the ambulance had dismounted the outpatients and left.

There were seven eight injured. They were lying in the yard on the floor. I rushed to help Khalil Najar. The others hold the torches on the wounds and Khalil would do anything possible with utmost care and patience. He removed the shrapnel which were at the surface and put stitches on the wounds and dress them. He did all these without anesthesia. Only God knows how patient and noble the soldiers were. We only heard “God is Great!, Ya Hossein!” and “Ya Zahra!” the whole time while Khalil was treating their wounds.

According to the injured, the bodies of those soldiers near the place where the cannon ball had hit had been torn into pieces. They only had shrapnel in different body parts because they had been away from the main spot.

Among the injured, there was one soldier whose situation was worse than the others. Shrapnel had hit his foot ankle and injured it badly. Khalil Najar asked me to wash his foot. He arranged for serum therapy for him. His boot had been torn from bottom and by the side and one could see his wound. I untied the boot slowly to remove it. His wound was so deep, and the bleeding was so extensive, that I was afraid his foot might be dislocated.

I removed the boot very slowly and carefully. My hands were covered in blood. The bones in the ankle and bottom of the foot, had torn the flesh and standing out. It was as if the flesh in his feet had been grinded. His wound was in a bad situation. He shouldn’t have been brought to the mosque at the first place. Maybe nobody thought that his wound was so deep otherwise they would have taken him to the hospital. I disinfected his wound with Savlon (disinfecting solution). Then I covered the wound with a few gauzes. We called this “tamponing”.

While I was doing this, the injured closed his eyes from weakness and fainted. A few minutes later, he opened his eyes. His ankle was being relocated. Khalil and I looked at each other. Although he had been brought to the mosque as an outpatient but with our minimum facilities we could not do anything for him. We had to move him to the hospital.

The responsibility of sending injured to the hospital from the mosque was with Khalil Najar. Someone in the mosque had a pick-up. He called him immediately and asked him to move the patient to the hospital. By that time, he had lost a lot of blood and his life was in danger. He lied half alert in the pick-up. One of the army forces, who had stayed in the mosque to accompany the outpatients, went with the pick-up driver to transfer the patient to Taleghani hospital.

Since Mosaddegh hospital, where many injured soldiers and martyrs were being treated, had been targeted, we felt insecure and thus took our patients to Taleghani hospital.  Taleghani hospital was close to airport square, somewhere between Abadan and Khorramshahr, and had a five story building in three plans; meaning in three separate wards. Each of these plans was a big and separate triangular building. These three plans were located in an owl shape with the angle of almost 120 degrees and figured 360 degrees together. The hospital had a nice built and architecture. The surface was covered in turquoise ceramics and yellow 3-cm bricks.

The founders of the hospital were three four physicians and I knew two of them, Dr. Aryan and Professor Javadi. The Surgery room and recovery was on first floor and the other wards were in other floors.

As soon as Zahra Hosseini heard the name of Taleghani hospital, rushed to Khalil and begged him to let her go with the patient. Until that moment she was walking anxiously in the yard. She insisted but he did not accept. He said that he cannot let a woman go with three men at this time of the night. When Zahra explained that she is looking for her brother, Khalil became softer. Zahra said that her brother is in Sepah (army) and has been with them. He might have been injured or martyred and she wants to look for him in the hospital and the morgue. Finally Khalil accepted.

Zahra and the injured sat in the back of the pick-up and the driver and the soldier sat in the front. When the pick-up moved, I got worried. I don’t know why but I could see the face of Ali Hosseini with those torn lips. I was worried that something might have happened to him. Zahra could not take it anymore. It was only five days ago that he had buried his martyred father. How could she tolerate the loss of her brother?!

I could not sleep until four in the morning when Zahra Hosseini walked inside the mosque. I ran towards her. Her face was completely different from what I had seen last. Her eyes were red from crying and were swollen. My heart dropped but did not want to say negative things. I held her hands and said: “any news Zahra? Did you find Ali? Do you have any news from him?!”

She gazed at me and said in a sad voice: “yes I found him.” I said: “Thanks God! Was he Ok?! Was he injured?!” she told me in a very low voice: “Sabah! Ali is martyred! He joined my father!”

Ali’s shy and sweet face appeared in front of my eyes again. Although his face was covered with dust and he was tired, but to me he was a luminous and clergy young man. So I was not wrong. I had seen the light of martyrdom in his face. I said: “Zahra, are you telling me the truth?! Maybe you are wrong!”

She cried from the bottom of her heart and said: “no Sabah! I saw him myself. When I got to the hospital, the Blazer which had brought the martyrs was in front of the hospital and had not handed over the martyrs to the morgue yet. I got out of the pick-up and stood beside the Blazer to watch the martyrs carefully. They dismounted all the martyrs but Ali was not among them. I felt a bit relieved. My focus was on one martyr who was wrapped in an old army blanket and was taken to morgue as I arrived. I asked them to see that one martyr too. At the entrance of the morgue, when I moved the blanket away from his face, I recognized Ali’s face covered in dust and soil….”

We were both crying deeply. When Zahra got to this point, she cried loudly: “Ya Hossein …!”

I kissed her head and face. I tried to clean her tears falling from her eyes on her cheeks. I held her hand and said: “Zahra, please calm down … most of those sleeping here are soldiers. If they hear the cry of a strong person like you, they will be discouraged.”

The first person to approach us because of Zahra’s cry was Khalil Najar. We called him Mr. Khalili. He teased us, without knowing what has happened, saying: “what is wrong with you? Why are you shouting in the middle of the night? Can’t you see that people are sleeping?!”

Khalili understood what was going on once he saw us hugging each other and crying. Very quickly, most of the rescue and kitchen workers gathered around Zahra crying. They felt pity for her since she had lost both her father and brother in five days. It was not an easy pain to endure. We were not in her shoes to understand what she is going through.

After everybody was gone, we cried for an hour. My heart was broken from her innocent cries. I did not know how she was going to endure this deep sorrow. Zahra said: “Sabah, Da loves Ali. You don’t know how much she loves him. She worships him. What should I do now? Suppose she finds out; then what?!”

I knew that Zahra use to call her mother “Da” in Kurdish dialect. Zahra and her family were originally from Dehloran. Ali was the oldest son of Da and based on what Zahra said, their mother was more sensitive towards him than the rest of her children. During the short period that I had known Zahra and I had heard from her about her family, she had an emotional family. It was obvious that the news of Ali’s martyrdom would be very heavy on all of them. Only God could help them.

It was a difficult night. Only God knew how oppressed our fighters were. They had been torn apart like petals of a flower. We did not know how many families were mourning their death. Zahra said: “since the capacity of morgue of Taleghani hospital is full, they have asked us to go and claim the bodies early in the morning. In case you do not claim the body soon, they will bury him as unknown martyr.”

Zahra wanted to give the news only to her uncle and also find a vehicle to claim Ali’s body. She said: “I do not want Da to know now. She is so attached to Ali that she won’t be able to endure his martyrdom and will pass out. She is still mourning the death of her husband. How can I break the news of her son’s martyrdom?” DA and Zahra’s brothers and sisters were in Sheikh Salman mosque at that time. I told Zahra: “Zahra, don’t do this. Please let Da see Ali. Don’t let their visit happen in the resurrection day. If Da finds out, she might never forgive you.”

Zahra did not accept. She kept saying that she knows her mother well and is certain that breaking the news at this moment is not right. Zahra was worried for her mother’s health as well as the situation of her siblings. She was worried that if Da finds out that she has lost her husband and her son in less than one week, she might not be able to handle it and the situation of Zahra and her siblings will get worse.

It was about six in the morning that Zahra went to look for a vehicle to transport her mother and siblings to Sarbandar. She was afraid that they might hear the news of Ali’s martyrdom before leaving Khorramshahr. Therefore the first thing to do was to send them out of Khorramshahr. Poor girl had not passed the seventh day of her father’s death and now she had to bury her brother. Even at this difficult time, she was thinking about getting her family to a safe place. If she could not control herself, Da would understand everything and God knows what would happen next.


To be continued …


Number of Visits: 143


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