SABAH (53)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


SABAH (53)

Memoirs of Sabah Vatankhah

Interviewed and Compiled by Fatemeh Doustkami

Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

Published by Soore Mehr Publishing Co.

Persian Version 2019



Mousavi did not utter a word. He only blinked four five times rapidly. His face color turned bluish, his head tilted to the right and fell. I looked at his whole body. There was no sign of bullet or shrapnel. There was no hole or rapture in his clothes.

Dr. Sa’adat told the pick-up driver: “The situation of the injured patients is very bad. You have to take them to the hospital. We cannot do anything for them here.”

The driver moved quickly. Dr. Sa’adat checked the vital signs of Mousavi.

I thought that he has been shocked when he has seen the injured patient in the ambulance and has fainted. Or maybe the psychological pressure of the past few days has worn him down. His livid color started to change to yellow. I checked his pulse. It was not normal. His breathing was also very irregular.

We had to hurry. At the same time the logistics car arrived. It delivered food and water. Dr. Sa’adat asked the driver and the fighter accompanying him, to help mount Mousavi in the rear of the car and take him to the hospital. Dr. Sa’adat stayed in the office and I went with Mousavi.

At Behrouz alley, when we passed the maternity hospital, the car made a noise and stopped. The driver of the pick-up got down and said: “we have run out of fuel!”

I was hopeless. How could we find fuel in that condition? Mousavi was with us and if we delayed getting him to the hospital, his breathing might be more irregular. I got out of the pick-up. We did not know what to do. We had to wait for a car to arrive and help us.

Five six minutes later, we saw a red minibus coming from palm groves from side road to the main road and heading towards us. God know how happy we were. When the minibus approached the fighter and driver asked the driver to stop. He stopped. They told the driver about the patient and the situation of the car and asked him to help us. The driver got out of the vehicle and came towards us and had a look at Mousavi. He felt pity for him and us and said: “Get him inside the car. I will get him to a hospital, somewhere.”

The driver and fighter mounted Mousavi and placed him on the minibus floor. I got in and sat on a chair above his head. I looked at him constantly. I was afraid that he might not be able to breath and need artificial respiration. As I was staring at his face, his lips started moving slowly as if he wanted to say something. I kneeled immediately besides his face and approached my ear to his lips. I heard him saying: “kho…kho…kho…”

He said Kho three times and all of a sudden, his eye rolled up and white foam poured out of his mouth. I was shocked. Terror had conquered my body. I was puzzled. Mousavi was dying right in front of my eyes. I hooked the palm of my hands together and put it on his chest and gave him a heart massage. As soon as I pressured his chest, I saw a flow of blood pouring from his left shoulder on the floor. I found out that the bullet had hit his heart.

His head echoed in my head for one second; when he was telling me his life story. Except for me nobody else knew that this young man was the only son of a family who lives in Karaj and have no idea where their son is. Unwillingly I shouted at the driver and said: “Go faster. He is dying!”

His loneliness and being a stranger was driving me mad. I do not know why but I blamed myself for what had happened to him. This was the first time that I lost control of myself and was crying hard. I wish I had a name and address from his family. The driver accelerated and we reached Taleghani hospital very quickly.

As soon as we arrived, I ran towards emergency. I started shouting with loud and appealing voice. The driver of the pick-up and the fighters were also shouting. I could not stop crying. Mr. Ghorbani, who was in charge of the emergency, and a few nurses, ran towards the minibus with a trolley. They placed him on the trolley and transferred him inside the emergency ward. Inside the emergency unit, when I was begging the doctor to save him, he turned to one of the nurses and said: “She has become hysteric!”

He was talking about me. I had taken patients with bad conditions to the hospital many times before, but I had never lost control of myself. I did not like what he said. I thought that a hysteric person does those behaviors to attract attention, but God knew that this was not my case.

Mr. Ghorbani placed the stethoscope of Mousavi’s chest. He changed the location of the stethoscope a few time but looked at me hopelessly and said: “He is dead.”

As soon as I heard this sentence, I kneeled above him and grabbed my head with my hands and started crying with a loud noise. After a while, I was sobbing. I felt so sad. I did not know what to do. I had seen lots of martyrs before, but I did not know why I could not cope with this case.

Mr. Ghorbani searched his pockets to see if he can find any identification documents or not. He only had a few seeds and nothing else. He asked me: “Do you know him?” I said: “Not much.” He said: “What does it mean? What is his name? Where is his family?”

I told Mr. Ghorbani what I knew about Mousavi in sobbing voice. Mr. Ghorbani instructed the nurses to take Mousavi. I was trying hard to calm down, but I couldn’t. one of the nurses hugged me, kissed me in the head and said: “Dear don’t be sad. Hopefully we will have victory at the end and be sure that the blood of these martyrs will not be wasted.”

It took me a few minutes to calm down. I went to say goodbye to Mr. Ghorbani but he did not let me go and said: “You do not feel all right. You have to stay here. When you feel better, you can go.”

The soldier and pick-up driver returned but I stayed. Mr. Ghorbani took me to the canteen of the hospital and said: “I know that you haven’t had a proper meal in days. First have your lunch and then go.”

The shy face of Mousavi and his oppressed way of talking, when he was talking about his escape from the house and his efforts to reach Khorramshahr, were in front of my eyes. Mr. Ghorbani said: “Why are you so sad? You have done everything for these people. I have witnessed how much efforts you have made. It is a while that you have had no proper sleep and no proper meal. You are working day and night, from now on it is not your duty any more, it is the duty of the government ….”

It was as if Mr. Ghorbani was saying Rawda. I started crying again; in the past, when one of my friends or surrounding started to cry, I was the first one to reprimand and stop him/her from crying in order to avoid the destruction of spirits of others but at this moment it was not in my hands and I could not calm down. The city was falling, and we were losing it. I was under a lot of pressure.

On the same spot, I heard from radio that the news reporter said that Khorramshahr turned into Khuninshahr today (blood city). The news reporter said that this transition from Khorramshahr to Khuninshahr is due to the increase in the volume of attacks by Iraqis and statistics of martyrs of defenders and soldiers in Khorramshahr. I felt so upset hearing this title for Khorramshahr. We had requested so many times to help the city but no body had cared and now they were mourning and crying for the city. We were not expecting their mercy?! These words were of no use to us.

It took me an hour to feel better. Mr. Ghorbani was insisting to eat lunch but I did not have the appetite. Lunch included white rice with yogurt. I just had two spoons of yogurt. I bid farewell to Mr. Ghorbani and returned to the office.

I was still not feeling well while I reached the office. A young boy came in and said: “Please hurry and help. A house has been targeted with a family inside. They need help.”

We ran after the boy with Belgheys, Keshvar and Dr. Sa’adat. A few streets up from the office, in Fakhre Razi street towards the square, a cannon ball had hit a house and the rubbles had fallen on the family living there. Although the city had been evacuated but there were still families who had not left the city because they had no relatives outside. Besides the house, a soldier had been hit by shrapnel and had fallen on the ground. Dr. Sa’adat and that boy started moving the rubbles to save the family members.

I was looking at the house. At that moment a Khorramshahr boy called Mosadegh, who was famous for his driving skills, arrived with a station Ahoo car which did not have any rear door and there was a cloud mattress on it’s floor.  Mosadegh and another fighter got out and ran towards the house to help the others. Keshvar approached the wounded soldier. I was walking towards the house, when one of the ones helping, dragged a small baby from under the rubbles and placed it in my arms. Then he told me: “They are all dead. Nobody from the family has survived!”

The child, was about two years of age. All his clothes were torn by the explosion wave. His skin was covered with shrapnel at the size of a lentil and was burnt. But he was alive. From time to time he screamed due to the explosion wave and struggled in my arms but then all of a sudden he became quiet and stared at my face. He was a beautiful and chubby boy. I hugged him closely and went towards the vehicle. I waited there until all family members were dragged out of the rubbles.

I sat in the front seat of the car with the child. They placed the injured soldier in the back of the car. Keshvar also sat in the back. The car moved quickly. At the beginning of Chehel Metri street, there was a flower shop called Mohammadi and a sofa shop called Moradi. Both shops had been hit. The sofa shop was on fire and the flames were up in the sky. The scent of burnt wood was in the air.

Mosadegh was passing the pits and holes of the streets with full speed. We had just passed the flower shop that they targeted our vehicle with automatic shooters. I pressed the child to my chest and bended my head as much as I could. I was more worried for the child. Mosadegh accelerated the speed as much as he could. The voice of bullets hitting the body and hood of the vehicle created a strange fear in our hearts. The bullets came coming from opposite and left side of the vehicle towards us. The reason was that the Iraqis were located in the houses on the left side of Chehel Metri street.

The acceleration of car was very high. We were proceeding in Chehel Metri street. I turned back for one second and saw that Keshvar has pressed her feet to the sides of the vehicle and has grabbed the cloud mattress on which the injured soldier was lying down, firmly. In each movement of the vehicles towards right or left, the bodies and the injured were thrown to one corner of the car. Keshvar shouted: “Sabbah, come to the back. I can not keep them. They will fall out of car!”

Poor girl was unable to do it alone. I did not know what to do. I did not know whether I could jump over the seat considering the movements of the car. I could not delay my action. I placed the child in the corner of the front seat besides Mosadegh and said: “I am going to the back to my friend. Take care of the child.”

I said in the name of God and dragged my whole body to the back of the driver seat. The mattress was outside the vehicle and the upper part was empty. Thanks God I could sit besides Keshvar without any problem and being hit by bullet. I got hold of the mattress firmly and got hold of the clothes of the soldier with the other hand and then tried to find a suitable place for my feet.


To be continued…



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