SABAH (49)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2021-02-23


SABAH (49)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019

 


 

First, Mousavi and I went to visit Amir Sameri and the rest of the brothers. They were very happy to see us and our visit lifted their spirits. Then we went to see Zohreh and Zahra. Each were hospitalized in one room. First we went to Zohreh. She had bent on the bed full of sorrow and was staring directly. As I walked in, Zohreh noticed me. I went beside her bed. Her face was filled with sadness like a person who had lost all she had. We greeted. When I asked her what was wrong, she said in a crying tone: “Sabbah, they do not observe Mahran and Namahram here. We are all placed in one room. I feel bad. I feel ashamed to lie down. I do not want to stay here. Please help me get out of here soon.”

The shrapnel had hit below her knee. I asked: “Have they extracted the shrapnel?” She said: “They say that they won’t take it out. It is in the soft tissue of the knee and there is no issue if it stays there.” I asked: “So why don’t they discharge you?” She said: “I do not know the reason. They say you have to stay for a little while” I said: “Let me see what we can do.”

Zahra was in another room and Dr. Mostafavi and her sister, Leila, were also standing next to her. I went to her bed side. Leila helped her sit and was giving her pear compote. We greeted. I asked how she was and she said that thanks God she is fine. Although the shrapnel had hit a sensitive part between the lumbar vertebrae but her spirit was much better than Zahra. I was very happy to see that the shrapnel has not caused damage to Zahra. That shrapnel could paralyze Zahra for a lifetime, but God’s wish had been for this not to happen.

I congratulated Zahra for the shrapnel she had received. At that time, if a person was martyred, the others congratulated and sent condolences to his/her family; this was the same if a person was injured. I talked to her a bit and returned to Zohreh’s room. Poor girl was crying. Zohreh asked me again: “Please take me out of here.”

I promised to refer to team members and ask them to take action to discharge Zohreh as soon as I reached Khorramshahr. I kissed her face and asked her to be calm. We said goodbye and left the hospital.

We were searching for a vehicle to take us to Khorramshahr. We saw a fire department vehicle going toward airport square. We waved at it and the driver stopped. We got in and sat beside the driver.

We got off at the square and went towards Khorramshahr on foot. The first person we saw was Hamid Khoshnud. I told him: “I went to visit Zohreh Farhadi. She has been hit by a shrapnel on her knee and is in the hospital. The doctors have advised her not to take it out since it is not in a dangerous location, but they have not discharged her. Poor girl doesn’t like to stay there since there are male patients in her room and she is not comfortable. I have promised to take action towards her discharge as soon as I get to Khorramshahr.”

Hamid said: “ok. I will discharge her by any means.” I said: “We have to find a vehicle to transport her.”

I thanked Mousavi for accompanying me. We parted and I went to kitchen to see Shahnaz and Fouziyeh. They did not know that I had been hit by a shrapnel. I wanted to see them in person before they heard the news. I was worried that they might think something has happened to me and get agitated. The shrapnel was bothering me during walks but it was not serious to stop me. I told Shahnaz and Fouziyeh that I had gone to hospital to see Zahra and Zohreh. They said that they have heard about Zahra’s injury. Then they asked how Zahra and Zohreh were and said: “How are you?” I said: “Yesterday I went to Customs. The clashes were big there and I got a small shrapnel myself.”

Shahnaz asked in a panic: “Are you telling us the truth Sabah? Where?” I said: “My knee.”

Fouziyeh wanted to lift my trousers and see what has happened but since there were men frequenting in the Hosseyniyeh, I stopped her and said: “Don’t worry. It is not a big deal. The doctor visited me this morning. I took x-ray and they said it is nothing serious. I have injected Tetanus vaccine too.”

They did not believe me. They dragged me to a corner and checked my knee and were then relieved.

The sad and uncomfortable face of Zohreh with those crying eyes was in my head all the time. I had promised to discharge her soon. I told Masoud Paki, Khalil Ma’avi and Hassan Sorkhou about Zohreh. They promised to accompany me to the hospital to discharge Zohreh the next morning.

I returned to the office. None of the girls had gone to frontline that day. Only men had gone. Around sunset when the team returned to the office, I asked one of them if it is possible to go inside customs or not and he answered that it is impossible to get even near customs let alone to go inside. The bodies of Riyaz and Bijan were still lying on the ground.

During the morning of twentieth day, team members came after me. Ms. Zeynab who was working in Jannat Abad to wash the bodies of the martyrs, had also come to the office. She wanted to go to Mahshahr to visit her daughter. She asked us to drop her somewhere in their way. The team members agreed.

Ms. Zeynab and a girl named Tahereh, a seventeen eighteen year old girl who brought injured soldiers to the office during the day, Masoud, Hamid, Khalil Ma’avi and I went to the hospital. First we went to visit Zohreh then we told her to be ready to get out of the hospital the first chance we get. In fact we wanted to steal her because we did not have discharging permission yet. The hospital ambiance was as if they wanted to kick all soldiers out of the fronts. They did not give discharging permission for the injured easily and even transferred many soldiers with slight wounds to other cities very quickly.

The nurses had cut Zohreh’s trousers where the shrapnel had hit. A part of her foot was showing therefore she had wrapped a white bedsheet around her waist to hide her foot. We put her on the wheelchair and rolled her out of the room. One of the nurses of the ward stopped us, asking Zohreh: “Where are you going?!”

Zohreh said: “My friends are leaving. I just want to say goodbye then I will return to my room.”

She accepted and did not say anything. We brought Zohreh to the yard and went around a bit. Then in a good chance we took her out of the hospital when the guards at the entrance gate were busy with an ambulance bringing wounded soldiers. We placed her in the car and drove away quickly. Zohreh was very happy and thanked all a lot[1].

A bit further when I was content that she is safe, I left the group.

I went back to the office. I wanted to enter that I saw a seventeen eighteen year old young man. He was armed and covered in dust. It was obvious that he was a soldier. He stood a bit farther from me, paused for a second and then approached and passed by me. Again, he did not go anywhere and stood a few steps behind me. He was a shy person.

I felt that he wanted to say something but couldn’t. I decided to approach him and ask him what he wants. If he had something to say, I would hear it. If not, I would excuse myself and leave.

I stepped forward and said: “Hello.” He said: “Hello sister.” I said: “Where are you from? When have you arrived here?” he said: “It is about ten days that I have come from Lorestan. I said: “Is there anything I can do for you?”

He dropped his head down and started to play with the tip of his shoe on the ground. Then he lowered his voice and said: “Frankly speaking sister, I wanted to say something, but I am embarrassed. I passed by you a few times but could not say what I wanted to say.” I said: “If I can be of any help please let me know. You are like my own brother.” He said: “Frankly speaking I want to go to my city and visit my family and return but I do not have the money to find a transport vehicle to go. I wanted to ask if I can borrow money to be able to get out of Khorramshahr?”

I felt pity for him. Poor young man had come to fight in this fire and bullet zone without asking for anything. And now he had to torture himself to be able to secure some money to visit his family. From the money that auntie Maryam had given me, I had thirty Tomans left. I took the money out of my pocket. I kept ten Tomans for myself and offered the remaining twenty Tomans to him, saying: “Forgive me brother. All I have is thirty Tomans. I will keep ten Tomans for myself so that if God forbid anything happens and I have to escape the town, I would have money for myself. The rest is yours to get yourself to somewhere.”

The young man was happy and said: “Sister I am really grateful. I do not know how to thank you. May God bring prosperity to your life.”

While I was in the office, the news of the fall of the customs and Dezh garrison broke. The news also contained the fact that some of the army officers who had been resisting in Dezh garrison have been martyred. I sighed. The news of the customs’ fall was a very disturbing. The important hub of the city was lost. I had never thought that land could be so dear until that moment. My heart squeezed while hearing the news. I was heartbroken. We were all devastated. We had to give our lives but not our land. As time passed, more hopeless news were heard. We were approaching the fall of Khorramshahr minute by minute.

The Iraqis had approached us from all sides. They had moved forward near Ordibehesht square from the west side; from south west of Jameh mosque to Ahmadzadeh square; from east they had surrounded Khorramshahr and reached seventh station of Abadan.

As the soldiers said there were only three hundred to four hundred defenders for Khorramshahr. The army and troop soldiers had taken refuge at the intersection of Fakhre Razi and Enghelab Street, near Dr. Sheybani office. They had done the same in Ferdowsi Street and besides Jameh mosque. The clashes were so severe that I once saw the army soldiers defending in lying position.

At night I suffered fever and chill. In this condition this was the worst thing to happen! My wound was pounding like a heartbeat. I was covered in sweat. The Iraqis were constantly striking tracer bullets. The night darkness was broken with the tracer bullets. The sky of Khorramshahr could not experience the darkness of the night even for a few minutes that night. The ground was moving constantly like cradle. The clashes had worsened.

Every minute, the Iraqis tightened the ring of the siege more and more. We had a strange terror in our hearts. The door of the office was opposite the mosque and we were to some extent content of the Iraqis’ entry. We knew that they won’t be able to enter the office without clashes and in silence but we were constantly thinking that the Iraqis might jump on the roof of the office and enter.

We had gathered around in dire darkness in the small hall of the office.

We whispered the prayer of martyr for a few times. My whole body trembled. A light shivering was in my body; both from fever and from fear. Only God knew what would happen in the next few hours. It was a lengthy night and morning seemed so far. How long was twentieth day of first month of autumn. If the sun raised, we would have less anxiety and stress. In the daylight, we could at least see and understand what was going around us.

All my senses and thoughts were with my brother, Ali. I was thinking all the time that the door of the office will open, and other soldiers will bring his body soaked in blood. I did not know where he was and what he was doing. I started whispering Amne Yajib verse of Quoran slowly.

It was past midnight that Abbas Alivand brought a few injured. One two of them had been hit by direct bullets to their stomachs and sides and two three others had been injured in chest and stomach by the bayonet in one-on-one war. When we saw those who had been hit by bayonet, our fears and terrors multiplied. All these happenings indicated the closeness and influence of Iraqis inside Khorramshahr. The clashes were one-on-one war in the streets and backstreets of the city, and this meant that the fall of Khorramshahr was more nearer than before. We bandaged their wounds and tried to stop the bleeding in any means possible. Since there were the possibilities of inside hemorrhage, we could not keep them in the office, and they had to be transferred to the hospital as soon as possible. We asked Alivand to take them to the hospital. I did not notice how and where he took them. Maternity hospital or Taleghani hospital.

 

To be continued …

 


[1] Ms. Sabah Vatankhah’s narrative of the injury of Ms. Zohreh Farhadi is slightly different from her own narrative. 



 
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