SABAH (44)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2021-01-12


SABAH (44)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019

 


 

I said: “where are you going? We have come to the frontline to help the wounded.”

He said: “ok, we will go. It will not take long!”

He left immediately. We could clearly hear the whizzing sound of bullets hitting our surrounding. From the cracks in the stones, we could see the volume of bullets being shot from Iraqis to our forces. If the stones were not there, we would definitely be shot. We waited there for one hour for Joneshan but there was no sign of him. We were starting to suspect him. Why had he brought us here at the first place if he wanted to run away?! It was not safe for us to stay there. If we stayed there, there was the high possibility of Iraqis’ moving forward and we would be taken hostage. It was possible that Joneshan would come to look for us.

Right at that moment I heard someone calling from the rear of the stones. I turned back and saw a soldier in distress and restless. I said: “yes brother, anything wrong?” He said: “sister are you aid workers?” I said: “yes, anything wrong?”

He felt a bit relaxed and said: “sister my sister and I were fighting with the enemy, but my friend got shot and fell. I am calling him, but he does not answer. I think he is unconscious. Can you please come and have a look at him and clean his wound to stop the bleeding?” I agreed to go.

Zohreh stayed so that if Joneshan comes looking for us, he won’t be lost. I said goodbye to Zahra and followed the soldier in bending position. The bullets kept pouring; each one of them passed our head and face like red bees. We moved forward despite all the obstacles. We reached a big stone which was used as a trench by soldiers. The soldier showed the rear of the stone and said: “my friend is there.”

I approached him. The bullet had stricken the middle of his forehead between his eyebrows. This was a sniper hit. It was obvious that he had been martyred immediately but his friend who was very young and unexperienced, had not noticed that. The martyr had a big body despite his friend who was thin. Without mentioning that his friend has been martyred, I told his friend: “brother, can you help me move your friend to the back?” he said: “yes but how can we do it in this fire?”

It was not a wise decision to move the body to the back considering the situation. We could barely get ourselves to the back but I could not be indifferent towards the corpse of the martyr. The thought of his mother waiting for his son’s corpse forever, wouldn’t go away. Despite that there was a high possibility that the Iraqis would move forward and violate the corpses of the martyrs. I did not want the body to be violated and disgraced. Besides, I did not want even one empty bullet shell to be left for the enemy, let alone the body of a martyr. I looked around. We could not drag the body and bring it back.

I looked around to see if I could find a piece of lumber to use it as a stretcher. I noticed a wheelbarrow which was lying in a corner on the ground. I told the soldier to bring the wheelbarrow. He went quickly and brought it. We decided that he grabs the upper part of the body and I would get hold of the feet. We said a “Ya Ali” and with the help of the soldier, we placed the martyr on the wheelbarrow. The soldier took the handle of the wheelbarrow. I started to walk in the front and we set out. We were walking towards the entrance of the customs. It was impossible to walk on the asphalt street inside the customs. It was within the Iraqis’ fire range and they could shoot us, therefore we started moving from the rear of the walls of the buildings which were formed as storage towards the wall of the customs.

Little by little, the bullets of RPGs were also added to the fire. Controlling and pushing the wheelbarrow was a hard thing to do in that situation. The RPG bullets and mortar bombs which had hit the ground previously, had plowed the ground and made it uneven. The road was dusty and full of holes. If we acted carelessly, the martyr would fall. The wheelbarrow turned to collapse a couple of times but the soldier and I got hold of it.

It took us more than forty minutes to get the martyr to the wall of the customs. There was a big hole in the customs wall due to the strike of a cannon ball. The hole was big enough for us to pass. I showed the hole to the soldier and asked him to go there. We passed the hole with great effort and through a pile of soil and bricks.

On the other side of the hole, Major Aghareb Parast and his forces were in clash with Iraqis. They were striking mortar bombs towards the enemy forces which were stationed in customs. A pick-up for logistics or transfer of injured and martyrs was stationed next to their unit. Major instructed soldiers to help us when he saw our situation. When I handed over the martyr to the soldiers, I said goodbye to the Major and returned. I was thinking about Zohreh. I had not moved far from there that I saw Joneshan coming. He was coming towards me angrily. When he approached me, he angry told me point blank: “who told you to leave your base and come here?!”

I answered angrily: “which base?! It was not a location that two girls could stay? Do you plan to hand us over to the Iraqis?! It is a location to stay? Didn’t you see how fast the Iraqis are progressing? You wanted us to stay and be captured?!”

After saying these, I walked away. I reached Zohreh with great effort. Poor girl had been sitting there all the time. I told her that Joneshan is angry because I left the base. Then I told her: “let’s go. It is dangerous to stay here. The Iraqis will progress and will take us hostage. I don’t know what Joneshan is thinking. I do not trust him!”

She agreed. We decided to go towards those soldiers for whom we had come for. We had not moved a few steps that we saw Masoud Paki, from Abouzar team members, who was running bended towards us. He said: “what are you doing here?” We told him what had happened. He said: “the soldiers are in a storage. Follow me.” We followed him.

The team consisted of ten twelve soldiers. They were stationed behind a construction in customs and were shooting. Hamid Khoshnud, Abbas Alivand, Ghasem Madani, Hamid Bordbar, Amir Sameri, Hadi Peyro and Khalil Ma’avi were there. All of them were the defenders of Khorramshahr and team members of Abouzar who were fighting in different levels. Hamid Khoshnud was a teenager of fifteen sixteen years old with a tanned face; a calm and modest person. He was very active when he was in frontline. I did not know much about Ghasem Madani and Hamid Bordbar since we had not met and worked together. Both seemed older than Hamid Khoshnud. Amir Sameri and Hadi Peyro were the same. I came to know their names later.

Despite fire lines I had kept for others so far, I had never shot towards the enemy. The intensity of the clash was so high that before aiding I had to think of defending. Meanwhile I had to take care of the other members of the team and help them with the wounds.

Working with M1 was very difficult and affected my speed. Next the team members there were a few G3 weapons. I replaced the M1 with a G3. I thought that I should set the target at the beginning and then shoot. Therefore, I placed the rifle against my shoulder and started shooting. In the meantime, Masoud Paki approached me and said: “hold the rifle lighter and easier. The way you are holding it, the kick back will hurt you.” I said: “how?” he said: “you have to hold it in a way that the butt passes from under your armpit and upper body. In this way the kick back of the G3 will not hurt your shoulder.”

Masoud Paki was right. In this way the G3 was lighter and more controllable. I found out this fact the first time I shot constantly. It took us half an hour to notice that Ghasem Madani is not there. Amir Sameri searched the surrounding but could not find any trace of him. His face had turned pale thinking that Ghasem Madani could have been captured. He said: “is it possible that he is captured? He was with us until a few minutes ago. Where has he gone?!”

We could not do anything. We had to wait for him to return or to receive news from him. We were sitting and busy cleaning our weapons. The name of the person who had brought food for us was Jafar Mousavi.

Zohreh, Maryam Amjadi and I were sitting on one barrel with the capacity of 220 liters which had fallen on the ground. We did not know what was inside.

I had my weapon in my hands but I was busy scanning the surrounding. I was afraid that Ali might see me among the soldiers. I knew him well. If he saw me in the frontline, he would get angry and treat me badly. I did not want to be treated badly in front of other team members. All the army members were like him. They did not want the girls to go to the frontline; especially the frontline such as customs since there was really no distance between us and the enemy. We had a bite of food sitting around. Our food was canned beans and dry bread. We were having lunch that we saw Ghasem Madani coming. Amir Sameri jumped and yelled: “where have you been? We were sick worried about you man!”

Ghasem Madani who was very upset, said: “I had gone to the front to see what is going on. I wanted to know how much the Iraqis have progressed.”

Amir Sameri who was really angry with him, said: “you went all alone to the front to see what is going on?! There are distributing honey there! We could go together?”

Ghasem Madani said: “brother, when we do not know what is happening there, how we can go together?! In that situation we would be killed and held captive all together.”

Amir Sameri said: “at least you could let us know that you are going. When you disappear all of a sudden, we get worried and think of all of the things that could have happened?!”

Ghasem Madani said: “ok! I am sorry.”

Amir Sameri said no more. The voice of Ghasem Madani was full of grief. After being silent for a while, he said: “brothers, Riyaz and Bijan have been martyred. Their bodies have fallen in a location quite near the Iraqis. I tried my best to bring them back but could not.”

As we were sitting there, a mortar bomb hit the ground with the distance of three meters from us. As soon as the mortar bomb hit, I felt for a second that the left part of my face was burning. This feeling of heat and burning was so deep that I felt half of my face has been burnt. I tried to touch my face. Then I looked at my hand and surprisingly saw that there is not even one drop of blood on my face. This time I did it with both hands to make sure that I am safe and thanks God there was no trace of blood. I found out that the heat I had felt was coming from the sand and dust rising from the ground.

 

To be continued…

 



 
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