SABAH (69)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2021-07-27


SABAH (69)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019


I had nothing else to say. We went to their place. As we entered, Da and Leila stood up and welcomed us. After greeting and kissing, the first thing Da said was: “Sabbah, do you have any news about Ali? Haven’t you seen him recently?”

Leila and my eyes knotted together. She was afraid that I might say something. I said: “Ali is ok. He is with the others.”

Da said with her Kurdish and Arabic accent: “Why doesn’t he come to visit his sisters, brothers and me? He knows that they are missing their dad, at least we have the chance to see him once.” I said: “Da, you know that Ali has an important position in army. We are in war, and he cannot leave the front and come here. Be sure that when he has the time, he will definitely come for visit.”

Leila breathed comfortably and changed the subject quickly. She asked about the members in Khorramshahr and told Da to bring us something to eat and drink. Da acted like a person who was suspicious of my words and was not convinced. She asked the same question from Abd Mohammadi. Abd also gave a more or less similar response. But she did not accept. She kept mumbling to herself. She kept whispering: “Why isn’t Ali coming!” it was as if she felt something as a mother.

I saw Hassan, Saeed and Zeynab there for the first time. I called Zeynab and put her on my feet and started to talk to her. She was a pretty and cute girl. She had round and white face with walnut eyes. She had black and thick eyelashes.

We talked until noon prayer. When it was time to say prayers, Hassan and Saeed who were most probable in second or third grade, did the ablution outside and stood for prayers. I liked their way of praying. Da prepared chicken for lunch. She was a very good cook and we had fun at lunch. After lunch, Abd Mohammadi said goodbye and left but Dr. Mostafavi stayed.

Zahra said that she is working in health house. This small health house of the camp was established in a container and was run by one two nurses. We decided to visit there.

The nurse was a young individual from Abadan who had worked in Shir and Khorshid hospital before. Besides the nurse, there was also a doctor who visited patients from morning till noon. The floor of the container was covered in carpet and we had to take our shoes out outside. Zahra said: “the atmosphere of the camp is so polluted that nobody has the right to enter with shoes or slippers.”

They had allocated one of the rooms in the container to injection and the other room was for visiting the patients.

Zahra said: “Children get sick so quickly here and have sore ears and sore throats. The weather is hot during day and cold at night. Poor children have only one cloth to wear, therefore they get cold and their throats are infected.”

We stayed there for a few minutes and then returned to Zahra’s place. We wanted to return to Abadan soon. Although I had come with the hope to visit my aunt but I was worried that auntie would ask me about Elaheh. I knew that even if insist that she is well, she won’t believe me since she has not accompanied us. Although I struggled a lot but I did not find the courage to go to their place.

Zahra and Leila said that they would like to go with us. I said: “We would really be happy with you but I do not think that you will have the permission to enter Abadan without order. We went to hospital and registered ourselves as aid workers and got order in order to be able to come here.” Zahra said: “we rely on God. We will come. We might be granted the permission.”

As soon as Zahra said that they are going, Da said all of a sudden: “I am coming too!”

Zahra was shocked and said: “Where are you going?” Da said: “I want to go and visit Ali! He cannot take leave and come; at least I can go and see him.” Zahra said: “If you go, who will stay with children?! You want to leave them in the hands of God! Also you heard that an order is needed to go. We are not sure that we will be granted the permission.”

Poor woman was convinced and said nothing.

Da cooked lentil for dinner. It was very delicious like lunch. We talked a lot after dinner. We were very careful not to say anything about Ali’s martyrdom. Zahra was very happy to return to front and one could see the joy in her face. We were very happy that we could gather around like past. We slept like corpses. I did not understand when I felt asleep and when it was morning. After Morning Prayer, Da boiled water and made tea in a big and smoggy kettle. Mohsen, Mansour and Hassan also joined us for breakfast. They had gone to their uncle’s house so that we would be more comfortable. Dr. Mostafavi had also joined them.

We were having breakfast that all of a sudden Zeynab started crying and asking for her father. Although she had seen her father’s body and had understood that her father has been martyred and buried but since she was only five six years old, she had remembered him and could not hide her sorrow. Zahra hugged Zeynab and put her on her lap and started to recite a poem:

Dad gave us bread is not our motto any more                       Dad gave blood, Dad gave blood

It was obvious that she had recited this poem a lot for Zeynab because Zeyanb repeated the same poem with her while she was crying. I felt bitter while seeing this scene. I felt so sad myself and was trying to control myself and not make this little girl sadder. Zeynab was as dear as Mona for me. When I hugged her and kissed her, I felt that I was hugging my own little sister. This was the reason that I could not bear her sorrow. My heart ached from her tears.

After breakfast, we said good bye to Da and children and hit the road. While saying goodbye, Zeynab had got hold of Zahra and did not let go. Zahra had to sit and talk to her and convince her. She said: “Leila and I want to go and get some news from Ali and return.”

Zeynab said constantly: “I want to come too!”

Finally, Da mediated and Zeynab let Zahra go. Dr. Mostafavi had come to Zahra’s place to return with us but Abd had stayed with family.

The previous night, it had rained and mud was everywhere. As soon as we started walking, the mud stuck to our shoes and made our commute hard. We prayed for a vehicle to arrive and help us. It was so hard to walk in that condition. A mini bus arrived and we got in. the mini bus was full of military forces. The crowds were standing and there was no empty place.

We were four young women among all those men, and we didn’t feel comfortable therefore after a few minutes we asked the driver to stop and we got off. We started to walk towards new Mahshahr again.

After ten minutes, a pick-up arrived. We waved and it stopped. We told the driver that we want to go to Mahshahr army and he accepted. First we had to get permission for Zahra and Leila. We had decided to go to Mahshahr army and if we did Mahshahr army not succeed, then we would go to Jihad.

We reached Mahshahr. We got off and looked for Mahshahr army. We asked for army officer. We explained that we have come to get an order and go to Abadan. They said: “Do not even think about it! It is impossible to give you an order to go to military zone!” We explained that we are aid workers and our living is there, but they did not accept! When they saw us pleading and insisting, said: “the entry and exit affairs of Abadan is not within our authority. We also get permission from Army War Chamber to go there. We do not feel suitable to do that for you.”

We came out of army office with no result. We decided to go to Jihad bureau in Mahshahr, with hopes to be able to succeed. The answer was the same there too. We felt so sad. We wanted to go back together but the more we asked and pleaded, the less we got. I suggested going to Red Crescent. They might accept us as aid workers.

We went there too. No result. They repeated the same. We were really restless. Our last hope was war bureau. We went there. Two commandoes approached us. When we explained that we want permission, they acted harsh and sent us out. When we did not succeed to get permission for Zahra and Leila, we decided to go to Imam Port. We thought that we might find a friend or acquaintance among the commandoes and navy army forces and permit them to get on the hover craft.

In the waterfront, we saw two commandoes. One of them was Zahra’s relative. They called him Aghayadi. We explained him our situation. He said that they are also looking for permission and will submit our names too. We became very happy. After all our efforts, a ray of hope had emerged. We had to wait for the results. We all prayed for smooth answer. We waited in waterfront until noon prayer. There was a small room which was used for prayers. We did our ablution and said our prayers in that room. We went around in waterfront hungry and thirsty until afternoon. Finally Aghayadi and his commando friend approached us and said that our names have been approved for entry to Abadan. We were so happy. All the fatigue went out of our bodies. We had to wait for the hover craft. We waited until night. On the contrary to our previous trip by hover craft, when those waiting were injured and nurses, this time the waterfront was full of military and army forces which wanted to reach Abadan. They had lots of military equipment.

They checked our permission, checked our names and we got in. Zahra and Leila were happier. They had finally succeeded in getting on their way to front. Forty five minutes had passed since we moved on Persian Gulf that we felt a burning smell. The smell turned to white smog. A few minutes later, the crew informed us that part of the hover craft is on fire and we had to return to Imam Port!

We could not believe. We had waited so long to go to Abadan and now we had to return.

 

To be continued …

 



 
Number of Visits: 240


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