Hussain is escorted from Karbala

Not far from the bank of the Euphrates, a child not older than 12 sits solitary in scorching desert sand with her legs crossed. Her head is uncovered, bare under the orange sky, for the very first time. Behind her, a dozen tents are set ablaze. She can feel the heat on her back – the sound of crackling embers and murmuring flames speak of those she set out of home with – but those she can’t find by her side in Karbala anymore. Those who are now fell. Her brothers, her uncles, her kin. Her father. At some distance she can see him – he’s turning into a mirage. Within an arm’s length she can feel him to be at times, but eons away when she reaches out for his embrace. Tall, burly figure. An imamah on his head that was once green, like the one his grandfather used to wear in Medina. But Sakina’s father’s imamah has turned red from all the blood. His broad back is overwhelmed, bent from all the arrows and spears. From where she is sitting in the sand, she is unable to count the number of wounds that are visible on her father’s body. But the blood dripping from his body has made its way through the sand, to where she is sitting. 

Sakina reaches out cautiously – this is her great-grandfather Muhammad’s blood, she thinks. The blood of the Seal of the Prophets. A legend comes to Sakina’s mind – the story of Gabriel appearing in the desert when an infant Muhammad was in the care of his foster-mother. Sakina is transported from the burning afternoon sun of Karbala to the cool night sky in the outskirts of Makkah. She can see Gabriel cleansing her great-grandfather’s heart in the dark of the night with Zamzam, and then sealing it back in its place inside Muhammad’s chest. This is the same blood, Sakina reminds herself as the tips of her bruised and withered fingers make contact with the blood of Hussain in the boiling heat of Karbala.

This is her grandfather Ali’s blood, she thinks. Muhammad’s brother, Waseeh, Allah’s Wali. The fountainhead of Muhammad’s progeny. A legend comes to Sakina’s mind; the remarkable story of Ali’s sword, Zulfiqar. When in battle, the Zulfiqar could tell who it was in combat against. It was said that even if a single person from the progeny of the Zulfiqar’s opponent had a Muslim Momin believer of Allah and Muhammad, Ali’s sword would not make the kill, would not shed blood. And muslims have now shed the blood of Hussain, the blood of Ali, the blood of Muhammad, Sakina thinks. She gently places her hand on the ground. The time for Hussain’s final Asr prayer has long passed. Strong winds from the east blow dust over the fallen bodies of Sakina’s family, sprawled across the desert. She becomes a little perplexed at a strange but brilliant glow rising over the horizon. Four illuminated figures surround Sakina’s father.

Hussain’s escorts are here, she tells herself. 

Above her, the sky splits into two.

Beneath her, Hussain’s blood has forever exhilarated the earth.






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