To the memory of the soldiers who fell before my eyes in the first Persian Gulf War. From my Iran-Iraq war memoirs that has been published in a book titled “A Path To Nowhere” >>> Part 1 — Part 2 — Part 3 — Part 4 — Part 5 — Part 6 — Part 7 — Part 8 — Part 9 — Part 10 — Part 11 — Part 12 — Part 13 — Part 14 — Part 15 — Part 16 — Part 17 — Part 18 — Part 19 — Part 20 — Part 21 —
The Greatest Achievement
In the last stages of the First Persian Gulf War Khomeini’s greatest ambition was achieved. He declared his absolute dictatorship in late May 1988 when I was still on leave. During the leave I worked on my land that was covered with grass. I watered my seedlings that had born some fruits. Twice in about twenty days I irrigated them. In one of those times as the streams of water were running in the conducting canals, I felt that I would not see my land again; and I would never taste any of those fruits. I thought the fruits of my own labor were forbidden to me. This was a bitter reward for my labor, though it was not as bitter as the fruits of the revolution: Khomeini’s most recent declaration. The declaration came after the usual arguments between rival factions led by Khamenei: the President of the Islamic Republic, and Rafsanjani, the Speaker of the Islamic Assembly, in the Friday Prayer at the University of Tehran. The debate was concerning the “Islamic Jurist’s: Vali-e Fagheeh”: the highest political figure in the Islamic Republic occupied by Khomeini, authorities and their limitations. Khamenei stated that Prophet Mohammad was the only person in Islam who assumed the absolute authority over Moslems’ possessions and lives. According to him Prophet was responsible to Allah only and not to the subject Moslems. After the Prophet, every sovereign’s authority was limited within the context and the frameworks of the divine laws and regulations that the Qur’an and the Prophet had set. Accordingly, the Islamic Jurist, who derived his authority from the Prophet, could not have absolute authority over his subjects except in the same divine framework. Of course, concept of Prophet’s unlimited authority was shared among all Moslems, but authority of the Islamic Jurist and its limitations were not quite clearly set and had always been debated among the scholars of the religion. Khamenei’s interpretation implicitly debased Khomeini’s authority that had expanded beyond many Islamic and non-Islamic boundaries.
Rafsanjani, on the other hand, argued that the Prophet had assumed absolute authority over Moslems, stood above the law, and was not responsible to anybody but Allah. According to him, the Islamic Jurist who derived his authority from the Prophet, assumed the same authority of the Prophet himself without any limitations and without being responsible to Moslem subjects. His position favored an absolute dictatorship that went beyond the authority of all known despots in Iranian recent history because Rafsanjani’s favorite despot had both temporal and spiritual authorities embodied in him. The man whom the arm-dealers and their media had always portrayed “moderate” stood behind the most despotic concept of political authority. This stance was in complete concordance with Khomeini’s tyranny.
The dispute that had started several months earlier had reached such a stalemate that both sides had to turn to Khomeini, who was acceptable to both sides, to resolve the matter. Khamenei wrote a letter to Khomeini in which he had inquired he clearly indicated his position on the issue. Khomeini’s short response was broadcasted on the radio news program. As I recall he had written:
“Apparently, Your Excellency does not believe in the absolute authority of the Islamic Jurist over the believers’ lives and possessions. The Holy Prophet is responsible to God almighty only. Consent of the people is not required for his government. The Most Exalted God did not ask people’s consent for sending the Prophet to them. The Prophet derives his absolute authority from God and the Islamic Jurist has the same authority on Moslem subjects.”
Within minutes a reply from Khamenei was broadcasted thanking Khomeini for the decisive response and the settlement of the dispute. Indeed, Khamenei retracted from his stance. So, he was not purged from the ruling clergy government like those who had been purged up to that day.
Khomeini’s short response was important. Under the banner of heaven he declared his tyranny as an indisputable form of government: something he had shied from announcing until that moment and constituted the basis of his campaign against Shah’s despotism. This very idea, of course, had obsessed our country since the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911 through some trends of clergymen. They had tried to draw the same conclusions that Khomeini had drawn. Now, Khomeini had accomplished the greatest achievement that his predecessors had failed to achieve. Khomeini’s announcement and stance was going against the constitution of the Islamic Republic that had bestowed specific, however vast, authority to the Islamic Jurist. This constitution was the very law that Khomeini had repeatedly declared contained not “even one single non-Islamic article”. Now the Jurist could put the very constitution aside and govern at his own behest. From historic point of view, the declaration was the revival of the political concept which regarded the king the image of god on the Earth, belonging to an Iran before the Constitutional Revolution and a total repudiation of the fruits of the endeavors of the intelligentsia and freedom-fighters; ironically many of them were famous clerics, who had campaigned at the price of their lives for almost a century to put some limits on despots’ authority and power.
Contemplating on Khomeini’s most recent step and reviewing the events of post-revolutionary Iran, I decided that all our sufferings including Khomeini’s latest proclamation stemmed from the war. The war had blessed Khomeini with a tyranny and had incurred disaster on Iran and Iranians. My commitment to fight against that blessing and this disaster became stronger than before.
In my last days in Bojnord I was convinced that I was going to lose my life in one of the many befalling fiascos. This was the fate of hundreds of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis until then. I did not intend to save my own personal life while the whole nation was suffering in their everyday life. I packed my old dictionary and John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” and set out for the front. As I was leaving home and my mother had poured her last jar of water after me, I vowed not to go back alive to see the fruits of Khomeini’s declared despotism. Was there a third option besides living under despotism or dying in its war? At around ten o’clock in the morning of a day around May 20, 1988 I was in my company. My soldiers’ rumors materialized. Zeerakee told me I had been ordered to command the platoon of mortar near Assadi’s company somewhere behind Fakkeh embankments before the new curved rampart was raised. I was to move away from the front and lose my best chance of defection. I told Zeerakee I was of better use in his company; but he responded it was a military order and I had to obey it. So, I called Jalalee requesting him to let me stay in my own company among my own soldiers. He released a loud laughter at my strange request:
“Everybody tries to go one step aback from the front line and you want to stay longer?” he responded to my request, “Are you not insane? You have already spent more than seventeen months in the front line. One of your fellow conscript lieutenants is prisoner of war; another has gone to Tehran; it’s not fair to keep you in the front line any longer.”
I told him I knew nothing about mortars as I knew almost nothing of mathematics. He responded that I did not have to know anything. “Soldiers and sergeants know everything,” he went on, “You just supervise them. By the way, you are smart enough to learn quickly.”
No choice was left. The next day I moved to the platoon of mortar without taking any gun from my new company. Now, of military gears, I carried my helmet, a chemical, biological, and nuclear bag, and a water canteen. When I arrived to the platoon of mortar a sergeant that I call Mirza was its acting supervisor. A war-experienced man, Mirza was a long time friend of Sergeant Ali’s with some similarities to him; besides the fact that Mirza was a married man. As I was leaving, many of my soldiers especially Ghobadee was asking me to take them to the platoon of mortar. Perhaps, they did not know I was as helpless in the decision-making process as they were; however, I carried a full star on my shoulder. It was a sad farewell with the men whom I loved and suffered with. I promised to visit them every time I visited my forward observers.
By getting away from the front I was losing a great chance. In order to go before the embankment, I would have to pass many strange guards. How they would treat me if they saw me trying to escape? At the same time, moving was providing me with another chance to find a Mojahedin contact. I might have found new faces in my new place that might show me a way to them, although I was fully convinced that my desertion from that area was out of the question.
In the platoon of mortar my bunker was deep in the ground with about half a meter of earth on its roof so that from outside about one meter of it was visible. Its living area constituted two rooms: a small front room and a big living room. If one wanted to go to the living room, one had to go two steps down in the front room; then one had to turn left and go another three steps deeper to the main living room. These provisional steps made a good buffer against shrapnel and explosion shock. The walls of both rooms were made of wooden boxes filled with dust, and sandbags. Thanks to the abundance of empty mortar boxes the floor was board as well. Compared to the front line bunkers, it was a neat and large bunker. For weapons, we had four pieces of 120mm mortars: two of them were Israeli-made Tompella mortars; the other two were made in North Korea. Perhaps, Russians were sending them to Iran through that country. For the first time, I encountered some mortar shells that had been produced in Iran by the “Military Defense Industries”. These shells were of better quality compared to the similar Korean shells. Also, some smaller mortars had been sent to the infantry units that I saw a few of them. They were all painted green while their shells were black. Their shells had been produced in Iran and the information on them had been printed in Persian. Previously, I had seen some Iranian-made hand-grenades and some R.P.G.7 rocket-launchers and their rockets and propelling boosters. Eleven years has passed the collapse of the monarchy and Iranian armed forces had just begun to be equipped with their own domestic weapons. Finally, Western blockade of Iran and continuation of the war had become a motive behind some domestic innovations and productions.
Predictably, another disaster befell our forces in my early days of staying in platoon of mortar. On May 25, Iraq retook her lost territories in Shalamcheh where they had lost to the famous Army of Mohammad in February 1987. They used poison gas once again and killed so many. This was the third fiasco befalling Iranian forces in the past three months. In contrast to its inaction after losing Fao Peninsula, the Iranian side countered this. Rafsanjani, who had recently been appointed to the acting-commander of the armed forces in Khomeini’s behalf on June 3, mounted a large army of Guards and attacked the lost area on June 13. Despite the claimed victory on Radio Tehran, Iranian forces failed to regain what they had lost.
On June 17 the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a short warning to all units in the western front about an NLA attack.
“Since the Mojahedin’s invasion in commemoration of Khordad 30 (June 20) is a strong possibility, tightest measures for suppressing any attempted attack are to be taken.”
Two days later the NLA carried out Operation Forty Lights against an armored army of the military and a regiment of the Guards in the region of Mehran in western fronts. The operation was outstanding. By losing only sixty-eight warriors, the NLA killed several thousand men from the army and the Guards. It took three thousand prisoners of war including two colonels from army’s headquarters. Tens of tanks, armored personnel carriers, American-made anti-armor TOW missiles sold to Rafsanjani during Iran-Contra Scandal, tens of pieces of cannons and mortars, hundreds of machine guns, and hundreds of light and heavy military vehicles were seized. The NLA held the already ruined and depopulated Town of Mehran for three days while evacuating booties and prisoners and then evacuated it without being subjected to any pressure. In fact, the central government had not the power to eject them. This time the Mojahedin claimed one hundred fifty regiments of the NLA had operated in Mehran!
Everybody at the front had heard the news of Forty Lights from Voice of Mojahed. Apprehension and joy followed: apprehension for a probable confrontation with the NLA and joy for the nearing of the end of the war. Large audience for the Voice of Mojahed brought preventive measures from the army. The brass, knowing no soldier listened to Iranian stations, ordered the military police at Karkheh Bridge to prohibit radios entering the war field; and a war against radio waves started and was extended to the front lines. In my neighboring company, Assadi took all radios away from his soldiers and promised to return them once soldiers were going on leave.
Since, now, soldiers openly claimed they were listening to foreign stations for Persian music, Assadi installed two loudspeakers near his own bunker and started broadcasting revolutionary songs. In the beginning the loudspeakers were running at sunset when the personnel left their bunkers for fresh evening air. This was also the time that Iraqis had the best observation on us. To put the music out, Iraqis would start to pound our positions with 120mm mortar shells.
With the loud music on us we could not clearly hear the whistling mortar and tank shells. One of Assadi’s soldiers was wounded for the same reason and we objected to his music program and he changed the schedule from evening to morning. The morning music interfered with soldiers’ sleeping that they so much needed after nightly guarding. We objected again and he stopped broadcasting music altogether, however, the loudspeakers remained installed and soldiers’ radios were not returned.
Six days after Forty Lights, Iraq mounted another attack. On June 25 they invaded the Majnoon Islands that Iranian forces had occupied a few years before. They used poison gas once again. These very Islands were subject of plenty of boastful talks among Iranian officials when they had fallen to them. I still recalled how in Friday Prayer Rafsanjani was raving about the Islands’ huge oil reserves and how capturing them would contribute to the Iranian economy. As the current was reversed, it caused plenty of discussions among soldiers and I found a way to Iraq in a tea party arranged by a sergeant. There were several soldiers and a hookah sitting in the middle and we were smoking in turn. The sergeant was the most talkative and raved about the recent events.
“We are lost,” the sergeant said. “Iranian forces are losing all battles. I wish Mojahedin attack us. They’ll spare our lives. But if Iraqis attack, they’ll kill everybody.”
“Night is taking a star from us every moment,” it was a soldier whom I call Pooyan: a young man coming from somewhere in Kordestan, “But we will keep the sky riddled with stars.”
It was a famous sentence from Masood Rajavi the Mojahedin’s leader that I had heard several years earlier and still knew it by heart. In this sentence he alluded to his organization’s supporters who were constantly being killed by club-wielders and the Guards in the streets, offices, and demonstrations. I gestured to Pooyan to keep silent. Intentionally uttered or not, Pooyan’s words showed his sympathy toward Mojahedin. As a Kord he could help me to get to Iraq through Kordestan. As far as I knew, Kordestan was the only place where opposition political activities were never completely quelled; and because of the same factor many thousands of activists had been smuggled to neighboring Turkey and Iraq.
Whatever Pooyan’s links and sympathy, I must have been cautious. Under torture I might have betrayed many active people. The best way to address this concern was to keep myself unaware of any link between Pooyan and his political organization. What I was keen to know; though, was whether he could and would help me to join Mojahedin. The next morning I visited him in his guard trench.
“Had I not gestured to you to keep silent yesterday,” I said in a formal tone, “both your head and mine would have been dangling from the gallows by now. We are lucky these soldiers did not know it was Rajavi’s sentence. Be more careful; would you?”
“All right, Sir;” he responded. “Thank you for reminding me.”
I wanted to ask if he could help me; but I dreaded how to put the question. Was I right that he was one of the smugglers? The best way was not to directly indicate my intention.
“Is it true that many people get abroad via Kordestan?” I asked him.
“Yes it is; there are smugglers who do that,” he answered. “How much does a person normally pay them?” I asked.
“Sometimes quite a lot, sometimes nothing,” he answered.
“How nothing?” I asked.
“It happens to political activists,” he said.
“Do political activists get abroad via Kordestan, too?” I asked intentionally showing my surprise.
“Yes, quite a few of them,” he answered and fell silent for a minute.
“Can I confide something to you?” Pooyan asked, not looking me in the eyes.
“If you don’t trust me, don’t tell me,” I replied, “Don’t tell me much, any way.”
“When you told me to stop speaking yesterday, I understood you are not making trouble for soldiers;” he went on, “So, I trust you. I took two Mojahedin supporters who were working with me in a construction project in Tehran to Kordestan; and then I sent them to Iraq.”
With his brave disclosure I trusted Pooyan.
“I want to go too,” I told him, “I would have gone a while ago from here; but one thing prevents me. If I go from here, Iraqis will interrogate me and their corrected shells will come on our soldiers right here. I don’t want this to happen. Can you help me to go to Iraq via Kordestan?”
“Of course, Sir.” Pooyan responded with full confidence.
And thus I found my guide at last; however arranging a trip was as important. How could I have Pooyan take me to Kordestan while both of us were hundreds of kilometers away in Khuzestan? I thought about the problem and came to the conclusion that if I postponed my leave for about fifteen days, the last few days of my next vacations would have overlapped Pooyan’s first few days of vacations. Within those days I could have gone to Kordestan to meet him and arrange my flight. I shared my plan with him and received his approval. For security reasons I did not ask his exact province, hometown, and address. We planned to exchange addresses just as I was about to leave for vacations.
By July 9, 1988, Taghee had received tank shrapnel and was sent to the hospital and I became the last person in team of four conscript lieutenants still alive and safe in the battlefront, so exhausted and torn between conflicting forces that I saw gray hair in my beard. In one of those days, the army brought a four-barreled anti-aircraft machine gun and stationed it in the area of Mahdi’s company in a way that it could be used for both aerial and ground targets. Existence of the very machine gun drew Iraqis’ attention and fire. Every day in the evening that area was receiving many mortar or tank shells that were missing the gun with a short distance. Just before the sunset of one of those eventful days, as I was walking in front of my platoon of mortar, a mortar shell exploded near the machine gun. Minutes later an ambulance passed me with its back door partially open. I saw a pair of booted feet through the door. I called the front line and was told Mohammad Hozooree who had joined me in the Death Valley had received shrapnel. At night I heard the young man had passed away before reaching hospital.
Several days had passed summer. South was burning. Iguanas were roaming the plain with their orange and blue heads. Sweated and salty uniforms became everyday life again. No bath was at our disposal. Not even a water-well was close to us to provide water for washing our clothes and refreshing ourselves. I was in the war zone for over forty-five days and was not asking for leave. I had to wait until Pooyan reached his forty-fifth day at the front. To fulfill meeting him in Kordestan, I had to linger another week. Soldiers were complaining they did not have a regular bath program. Should I have told them I knew a place a few kilometers to the north with a water-well? I was hesitant. None of my soldiers was in that region for a long time to know the place, though from my previous year’s experience I knew the location of the well. I did not want to mention the matter because it would wrench my heart as it was reminding me of my fallen soldiers who had spent the previous year’s spring in that area. My soldiers were desperate. I yielded to the circumstances and told the young men I was aware of the place of a water-well and asked a few of them to accompany me to that place. Pooyan and few soldiers became ready momentarily with buckets in hand and we set out north in a hot day.
We started walking in the fine dust of the plain behind the old embankment that had been mostly eroded due to wind. All along the way I was silent and immersed in the thoughts of my former soldiers. It appeared they were coming with me. I could barely hear those who were talking around me. Instead, there was Seyyed who used to laugh so loud and without control saying that Friday nights were nights of operations as it was Iranian weekend night and husbands and wives were spending the night together. Ghaderee was with me; Jalilee was listening to Seyyed shyly, Zolfakhani who would barely speak even in his mother tongue of Turkish, Abedeenzadeh, Zaree, Taromee, Hozooree, Alibag Arhamee, Mowlaee and many, many others who came from all over Iran. They were all around me while in my imagination I was reminding Hossein the driver that his height was drawing Iraqi shells to our position. He was laughing happily saying he was innocent of the crime and god had given him the height. They had blinded me to the presence of those who were walking with me. To the memories of all of them that almost entirely came from the poorest Iranians I was humming Rumi:
“O Brothers, how are you taking the news that in this trip Joseph had been torn by wolf?”
I was imagining if at Karkheh Bridge I encountered Shaaban’s wife and two daughters what would I have told them about their lost beloved? How could I have let them know that the wolf of war had torn their heart before my very eyes? Was I an inept? Who was my body before the gigantic capricious tempest of the deaf and blind forces that never saw my efforts and never heard my torment and pleas? Why was I expecting so much of myself? How many more Shaabans would add deep wounds to my bleeding within? In these thoughts, we passed the very place that used to be my bunker. I was dry, pensive, and coated with dust. Not a far distance away I saw the palm tree that was near the water-well. Although broken and wounded by many bombs, the palm was still green with a few bushes around it. It had grown new offshoots from its roots. Could my fallen and wounded soldiers grow anew like that palm? I wished they could. We found the well after we passed a huge pile of rusting Iraqi anti-tank and anti-personnel mines that had been left beside the palm. The well was full of clean fresh water. We washed ourselves and set back on the same way that we had come. Witnessing my silence, soldiers inquired the reason. I let them know that I had spent a few months in that desolate region and knew the well since then, but I was afraid of those memories and thus I had kept silent about it. That was the beginning of many daily trips that my soldiers took to that well for washing their clothes and their body. I never went there again.
As days were passing my former soldiers who had been wounded during the Sunshine were returning to the front line. Sometimes, I paid a visit to my old place behind the curved embankment to meet those who were returning. Among those who I met were Jalilee and Nasser Safee who used to be my communications soldier. He had received deep wounds in his chest and had difficulty to do his ordinary military duties. He told me he had returned to the front because he did not want to be exempted from service due to disability. As I told him that he was a partially disabled man because of his wounds, he promised he would apply for disability when he went on his next leave. As long as I was in the front line Nasser was serving in his position. In my last day in Fakkeh I saw him carrying his radio on his back with great difficulty. That man was so gentle that never believed in fighting even in self-defense. Once behind Teppeh Razmi I had told the class that they had to shoot the enemy before the enemy shot them. Nasser had said that he would never shoot at any living thing.
“They will kill you,” I had said.
“Even if they kill me, I will not shoot at them,” he had responded.
“So, your punishment is to walk over these circular barbwires for fifty meters and come back,” I said; and Nasser began walking on the barbwires in front of the laughing class.
Once he had walked about ten meters, I called him back to the class.
“I will not shoot them any way,” he said once he sat in his place and all of us laughed.
During Sunshine a group of my soldiers, Asghar and Nasser included, had been able to escape all the way to Fakkeh Three Way. There, a cannon shell had wounded all of them far from front line. I never saw Asghar again. He was coming from Ghazveen in north central Iran and spoke the accent of the people of the area. Did Nasser get a chance to apply for disability? Was he able to drag his disabled body out of the war zone? Perhaps, he was not. Perhaps, he was too late to apply for disability.
Also, one morning as I was visiting Zeerakee in his bunker, unexpectedly, I saw Saeed Toossee arriving to the bunker in civilian cloth. I could not believe that I could see the young man again. He told me he was to be sent to Germany for medical attentions to his damaged eye. As Zeerakee left the bunker, I made it clear for Saeed that the war region was not the relatively safe and secure region he had seen when he was with me. I insisted that he left for Tehran the same day. The same night he called me from battalion’s headquarters that he was leaving for Andimeshk in half an hour and wanted to fare me well. He gave me his address over the phone and invited me to visit him once I was in Tehran. “Do not forget the fire is coming,” I told him as my last advice. I never had the opportunity to see the young man again. In the mean time, Jahanpour informed me of an order issued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military. According to the order, the personnel who ran away to the Iraqi side must be put to death before they reached Iraqi embankments. Platoon of mortar was the most suitable tool at battalion’s disposal for carrying out this order.
“Don’t forget that 120mm mortar is our clenched fist,” he went on, “And it is under your command. You must pound the deserters as soon as you are informed. The order says that if it is necessary we must ask for planes to bomb them. They betray top military information if they desert alive.”
During the period that I was commanding the platoon of mortar no soldier deserted to Iraq.
In those days Haghee re-established his battalion and occupied the northern portions of the curved embankment including the area that Mahdi was defending. Mahdi’s defense line was shifted farther south. The new plan changed our area of fire. No longer we were supporting Haghee’s area as his own platoon of mortar had the responsibility. We had to expand our fire further south.
In the afternoon of July 9 I requested more mortar shells and received fifty. That many shells to be sent at once to the front, was unheard of. Sending the shells, Jalalee stressed on storing three quarters of them for a needy day. The new shells increased my reserve to seven hundred. For a platoon with four pieces of mortar it was a large number of bombs. Meanwhile, Sharafzadeh left for vacations. We exchanged a few words when he was on his way to the battalion’s headquarters. That was the last time I saw the tall man. From my neighboring company Assadi was on his leave and Lieutenant Ghezzee was in his place.
In the morning of July 12 Iraqis started to heavily bomb our positions from south to north with mostly smoke producing bombs. We responded to their fire, however the whole time of fire exchange lasted only five minutes.
“They were checking their fire power in order to correct their shooting errors,” Mirza said with a frowned brow, “They will attack us for sure.”
At around ten in the morning a small Iraqi plane flew to the headquarters of the battalion. Few minutes later I received a telephoned call that the plane had bombed the headquarters with poison gas, affecting many who had vomited and felt dizzy; no death was reported.
At about three o’clock in the afternoon I called the commander of my new company over the phone, requesting more mortar shells.
“Don’t ask for anything,” he unexpectedly said in a shaky tone, “I’ve no truck. Iraqis have attacked Zobeidat: somewhere farther north. I have sent our platoon of reconnaissance to assist military units there. I haven’t received any news from them since last night. All of them are killed en rout!”
The commanding third lieutenant sounded on verge of tears. I rarely had heard any officer to speak of the calamity of a platoon’s massacre with that clarity.
“I’ll do with what I have,” I said calmly, “Take care of yourself,” I went on with a mocking tone.
I took a couple of cigarettes and lit one for myself and handed one to Mirza.
“What kind of commander is this boy?” I growled, “He is almost crying.”
“All of them are cowards,” he added to my statement, “They are bullies for poor soldiers only. What’s up?”
“Nothing special,” I responded, “Iraqis have vanquished our military units in Zobeidat. Soldiers of our platoon of reconnaissance were sent to help them and they are slaughtered en route.”
Mirza’s eyes opened wide.
“That’s nothing special, Sir?” he exclaimed, obviously startled, “What is special then?”
“When I was coming back from my last leave I vowed not to go home alive,” I said, cold and dull, “I have nothing to lose except my uniform and a couple of books.”
“But I have a family,” said Mirza, amazed at my cold articulated words, “My wife and three daughters are awaiting me. I love them. In fact, I am tied to life through them.” He paused. “An incursion will be unleashed on us today or tomorrow,” he went on thoughtfully, “There is no way out of it”.
“That’s why I am grateful to the girl who said no to my proposal,” I went on cynically, “She was wise, too wise for my wits; so, I was hurt. Well, well, there is not a big difference between death and life in these circumstances. Perhaps there is more peace in death.”
“You have become a hopeless pessimist,” Mirza said, tired of my negative talk.
“Pessimist or optimist, the bells have already tolled for us, Chief Sergeant!” I said as I was leaning against the wall of the bunker with my half-smoked cigarette between my fingers >>> Part 21
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