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Chapter Sixteen

For eighty-four days, my wife sat on the floor on the corridor blindfolded and isolated from other ladies who were there. Disabled by the language barrier, she would communicate with Haras by sign, pointing her finger towards the direction of closets, and go when allowed. As is known, women nurse their tastes jealously, so to partake of the filthy food, which was daily, being served was unthinkable. She went without food for days till the Haras observed this, and reported to Muhaqqiq and the "Doctor". Fearing that she might die of starvation, they forced her to eat. Some women, who actually were informers but were there ostensibly as detainees, cajoled her, coerced her, and ultimately managed to feed her with milk, crumbs and butter brought as a special diet.
 
Sitting alone and unable to communicate with anyone, as this was not allowed in the corridors, she wondered what had befallen us. Not knowing where I was, she felt insecure, and as she remembered our children, she wept for days on end till at last tears dried up. No one was there to pity her or say a word of consolation. One morning she was taken to room No.73 along with Iraqi ladies, where she spent the rest of her days. Soon her companions found out that she was a total stranger, and pitied her plight.... "Allah Karim.... " - God is great, benevolent, they would tell her.
 
Here in my cell, thoughts about my wife tormented me most. Where was she? How would she put up with the situation so shockingly cruel? Unable to control my emotion, I burst into tears and my friends surrounded me pleading, "Do not cry; please do not cry." They did not know that my wife was also apprehended till I broke the news. They shook their heads in disbelief, and I remember one Jordanian who walked away with moist eyes. "Why? -Why your wife? Why are these innocent women being tortured?" Abu Ali asked.
 
The Muhaqqiq sent for me for the third time. Today his voice was sharp and accusing.
 
"Say, who sent you here?"
 
"Nobody, I came on my own, for pilgrimage to the Holy Shrines."
 
"Have you been to Iran?"
 
"Yes
 
"Why?"
 
"For Ziyarat."
 
"Which Ziyarat?"
 
"To the Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashad."
 
And then the Muhaqqiq stood up, drawing nearer to me, and with every step, which he measurably took, he asked:
 
"You are President of your community Federation in your country?"
 
"I was. I have since retired."
 
"Our investigations reveal that you are a founder of a World Shiite organization in London and also its President."
 
"I am one of its founders. I am no more its President."
 
"Why did you not reveal this before?"
 
"Because you never asked about my social or religious activities. I am supposed to answer your questions only."
 
Four hard blows descended upon my lower lips, sending me tottering to the floor. As I gathered myself, the Muhaqqiq continued:
 
"Do you love your wife?"
 
The mention of my helpless wife sent my heart bleeding. Controlling myself, I managed to say:
 
"Naturally so."
 
"Well, you will never see her again. We know we have caught a big fish. You will be executed."
 
The Haras was summoned to escort me back to the cell. I did not know where my feet fell, as I walked with him in the alleys.
   

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