Ashura - A Day Like No Other
From "Ashura - A Day Like No Other" by Sayed Mahdi Almodarresi [yet unpublished]

On this day, Adam was reborn..
On this day, Abraham was resurrected..
On this day, Moses was restored..
On this day, Jesus was reinvigorated..
On this day Mohammad was revived..
On this day, Imam Hussain was killed..
And, through him, prophets and their message of morality had new life breathed into them.

The sky had turned crimson red... While the time was in the early hours of the afternoon, the sun looked like it was about to set. Perhaps it was going through an eclipse. Judging from the scene on the ground, an eclipse seemed like it was not going to attract any attention as there were events that proved too distracting. No one seemed to care.

It was really hard to focus on any particular section of the plains of 'Naynawa'. At the same time it was difficult to look away. The scene wasn't just shocking.. It was nauseating. Is this the sight of an earthquake? Nothing else could explain the sheer devastation, the mesmerizing carnage, or the catastrophic nature of the landscape. It was as if time itself had come to a halt.

I always knew that man could be cruel... But this..?! This was not the act of men. The perpetrators of this heinous crime were nothing short of 'evil incarnates' with not the slightest hint of mercy in their hearts.

The shock factor prevented any immediate outpour of emotions, but although it was too early to weep over the tragedy, it was clear that tears would forever be shed.

Mutilated bodies everywhere... Flames consuming what was left of the tents and their contents. Women and children were running in all directions, but not to any specific destination. There is no place that would harbor their grievances.

A little was girl running from a fire that had caught her dress. She couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 years old. I believe I had seen her father embrace her just before leaving for the battlefield. I chased after her to put out the flame, only to instigate more fear into her heart. She must have felt that I wanted to steal her possessions. After all, even a cheap pair of earrings proved to be appealing to those mobsters. They were looting everything they could get their hands on.

I told her I carried no harmful intentions and that I just wanted to offer some help. Though she was reluctant to trust me - and for good reason - but she had no choice but to surrender. As I put out the fire with my feet she said with a shaking voice: "Are you a friend... or one of them?".

I felt sorry for her... I really did. But I had to tell the truth. "Neither" I said. "Just a journalist recording the events of the battle".

She found the courage to ask another question. "Do you know whether they will give us some water now, or will they just let us die out here in the desert?. She was quickly reminded of her tragic loss, her father, her brothers, her uncles, her cousins, and started weeping. "They killed them... One by one they killed them... Why don't they just kill us all...?".

This time I just couldn't hold my tears. I was meant to maintain neutrality and remain emotionally detached, but the overwhelming grief had taken over every part of my soul.

Her father had just been brutally murdered after having been deprived of water himself for 3 days in the scorching heat. He was killed while attempting to bring water to his children.

I took her to the river bank nearby for a drink of water. It was the famous river Euphrates with its pure water. Together with the Tigris it was a blessing to the entire nation. But not for the last three days when it was made forbidden for the family of Hussein, even though it was available for the wild dogs and other desert beasts.

The little girl was obviously distressed, but she was also very thirsty. It wasn't just the fact that she was deprived of water for the last three days, but also the summer heat. It was simply unbearable. She almost smiled when her feet felt the cool waters, but she just stood there staring at the stream.

Thinking she was still afraid to drink, I said "It's okay. You can drink now. I won't let them hurt you".

But she just stood there. When she faced me tears started rolling down her cheeks. "I don't want to drink water anymore. I can't. I just saw my 6 month old brother Ali Asghar killed while he was thirsty. My father pleaded with them. He beseeched them for a drink but they wouldn't give him a drop of it until he was killed".