I was a teenager full of youth and energy. I wanted to go to war. To fight an enemy that was devouring our lands. I was trained and ready to go but something bothered me.  I had a frightening and scary image of war. I wasn’t sure if I could get along with blood and fire and the military style. But then I went there and saw how wrong I was. I saw life, I saw happiness and joy. The happiness and soul-enriching life I saw in people there…I never found it anywhere else. At that time, I was part of the story. I was a fish swimming in the sea, unaware of the world outside. I didn’t care and think about things. But now years have passed and I’m not a teenager anymore. Now that I look back, I can see and perceive a lot of things that I couldn’t see at that time. We used to mourn for the loss of our friends and the martyrdom of our Imams as much as we enjoyed ourselves in ceremonies and parties. We didn’t know then that this happiness and this liveliness were our greatest weapons and our winning card. One must ridicule the enemy with laughter and life, and we did so without even realizing it. I can’t forget the time when a sanctimonious religious man who thought religion was only limited to chanting words and bearing hardship on the body, criticized the others who were playing football, volleyball and were horsing around or had wrestling games and reminded them of judgment day and told them that praying and serving God was better than wasting time on games.

We said nothing. But our deputy commander said: “What are you talking about? They have left their childhood in their cities and come here to fight. Now this is their home. We don’t have the right to stop them from living and being happy.”

I also remember the time we were in the Karbala5 Operation and saw the way mortars and bombs had freckled the ground, with bullets whizzing past our ears. Abbas Sahraee said: “I wish we were like the Pink Panther, so that when the bombs hit us, only our clothes would get burnt, or we’d only get some crossed band aids on our head at most, right?” and we burst into laughter although we knew those lifeless bullets know nothing of life, just as our enemy. They just killed and annihilated. But we stood against the enemy believing in the spirit of life and laughter. I wanted to tell you part of our story. So I racked my brain and went through some books to tell you about what I heard and experienced. These are mine and my friends’ memories from war. I also brought some stories from “Lovely War” by Saeed Tajik and “Observations” from the Fronts’ Culture Collection and memories from Ahmad Yousefzadeh. Ahmad has bittersweet memories from his days in the medieval prisons of Iraqi Ba’ath regime. And so I dedicate this book to Ahmad and our honorable freed prisoners of war, those who bore the whipping and torture of the enemy’s prisons and didn’t surrender.


  • Friendship in the Style of Tanks