A Gift from Heaven
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The call for evening prayers sounds in the streets of Madina. It is time for him to enter the mosque for leading prayers; He always comes this distance by his followers and friends on foot. His face is color off and has a mark of callus in formed due to nightly prostrations in prayers.
Day light is efficiently fading and darkness of night appears. I am hiding behind a Palm tree. I can see him approach slowly.
He is Imam Sajjad who is my cousin. I have just seen him that helps needy people. He gets everything that needs in calms and offer them in calms.
In that condition I received his helpers too but he hasn’t helped me in order to give food cloth and etc.
I step out from behind the plenty of trees and shout abuses at him pouring out all the love in my heart. I call such obscene and words that are even wonderful. A single motion of his hand would be enough for his companions to tower over me for a real beat-up while he only regard me without telling even a word! I understand nothing of his eye contact.
I stopped brawling and keep quite. He has stood quietly and continues his gaze on me. I wish he would abuse me too, or at least answer my obscene words with something or even slap me on the face. I look round and see angry faces looking at me in disgust and hatred.
Imam Sajjad moves towards a step forward. His mysterious silence has frightened me. As if my heart wants leaps out of my body. Imam looks at my eyes silently and says “Brother! If what you have lied, may God forgive you!”
I covered my face with my hands and run away. I am running but I don’t know why! Is it in fear of my life or for the shame? In panic I lose myself in the dark and narrow streets.
After sometime I arrived at home. I am still frightening while feeling a burning fire within. I keep my head with my hands.
This is the umpteenth time I have scorned him, and each time he treats very honorably and patiently that sets fire to my whole soul. The low chirping of the crickets announces the coming of night. Suddenly my heart gives a leap. This is the moment when an angle appears in the sky of our district. Every night an angle descends from heaven with the arrival of darkness. Now is the moment for the owner of the contest of its knapsack among the indigent of our district.
Everyone has forgotten me but God remembers. If he had forgotten me, he has not sent this angle to me every night.
When night falls, this angle descends gently and knocks at the door of each house. He carries a load of food and firewood, and offers them to the needy people. That is why the people of our district have given him the name of owner of the sack.
OH! My God, darkness has drawn a veil over everything. It is about time the owner of the sack came. I am awaiting him. I open the door of the house and glance the street. The children cries are heard from the neighborhood’s clay walls. Night has arrived, but the tablecloth for dinner has not been spread yet in the houses of neighbors.
I hear the voice of Samiye-my next door neighbor-soothing his hungry child. Children are hungry and their mothers are wandering around the house to find some bread.
A dark shadow appears at the end of street. It is him all right. He walks slowly and gently. His back is bent with heavy load he is carrying. On reaching the first house, he knocks on the door. A woman says “Salutation to you, O owner of the sack! Greetings to you O angel of God!”. The angel takes out two bags out of his sack and gives them to her.
I came inside and shut the door. A few moments later I hear the knock on the door; my heart begins to beat faster. How long to see his face! However he covers it with a veil. I open the door with trembling hands. The street is empty and silent and the silence is broken only with the chirping of the crickets. The cries of the neighbors children aren’t heard any more.
The angel puts down his sack. This time, instead of food and firewood he offers me a bag of drachmas. My hands tremble even more.
When I came back to myself, I found that he has disappeared from view. No one can know who he is. But I do. He is an angel sent by God every night to help the needy. How long to see how he returns to heaven! I am sure that he opens his white wings and flies up to heaven. In many nights as now I have gazed at the darkness of the street to watch his flight heavenward. But alas! He vanishes so gently and quietly that I have never noticed his departure.
“Samiye! Have you ever seen his departure?”
“No, I haven’t! They say that he vanishes before his departure and then open his wings slowly to fly.”
Once when he was handing me a bag of bread. I held his hand and rubbed it against my eyes. It smelt of rose perfume. It had a green pasture.
He drew his hand gently out of mine and stroked my head. His caress was as warm and hot like a mother welcomed her baby warmly in cradle.
Night has enveloped our district. Now it is the moment when the owner of the sack will arrive. I know that the neighbors are waiting for him behind their doors. On that time I can wait too? But all of them have left me alone. I am ill and unable the only one who is known really my suffering only the owner of the sack. How hard and bitter would my life have been if it weren’t for him.
The hands of clock don’t move as if the time is stand. The air is heavy and dull. The damp grooves in the wall smell of sorrow. The sound of cries reach heaven but tonight their cries sound sharper and louder than ever. When is the angel going to arrive after all over?
I look up at heaven. The sky is dark and gloomy, and five more days are left before the moon once more gives the good tidings of its arrival.
The cries of children are insistent. I put my fingers into my ears so as not to hear any noise, but no, it is not only the cries of children. I also hear the cries of adults, the cries of men and women! O my God!...........
What do I hear? I had never before seen the people of this street cry for their hunger. The cries are heard louder every moment.
Look! Everything around is weeping. The walls of the houses, the street-bed and even the faded wooden doors of houses are crying. It is right! Is it really right what I hear?
This is the cry of Samiye! How sadness she is weeping! Weeping because of hunger.
No! I aware from cry habit because I have been her neighbor for many years. She had not wept like this even for her husband’s death!
I open the door and find the city is plunged into tears. Tall palms have bent their heads down and the sky has covered its face with a veil of dark clouds in order to hide its tears.
The street is crowded and everyone is sad and gloomy. No one says a word, and in my loneliness I wander about the street. Samiye is sitting down by a palm tree; crying. She picks up the earth on the ground and sprinkles it on her head, as sign of mourning.
The palm branches strike themselves against their trunks and “Samiye beats her head. I sit down near her and ask her, Samiye! Why are you crying? Is your daughter ill?”
Her wailing echoes louder than any other sound in the street. I ask her again,”Samiye! Answer me! My heart is aching with loneliness. Samiye shouts “The angel has gone to heaven for ever. I saw his departure with my own eyes”.
I say helplessly,” ”what are you saying? The angel has not yet visited our district. How did you see his departure?”
Samiye beats her head against the palm trunk shouting,”The angel was Imam Sajjad. He was martyred today. When they were washing his body for burial, they noticed a black mark on his shoulders; this mark was on his shoulders for carrying the bags every night to the houses of poor.”
I felt my heart became heavy and my soul was into the oven and it has been burning. I was choked with tears and I gave vent to my feelings. I wanted to pour out the heaviness of my heart all at once. However, why was the voice strangled in my throat? Why couldn’t I wail? Why couldn’t I get lighter? Tear ran down my face like a stream. On that time, I wish my whimpers would flow like my tears.
I can’t hear the rest of the speech. I felt as if the entire street was turning around my head. In many times I had to close and opened my eyes. I wanted to be relaxed by gathering all my strength in my legs and proceed towards the Baghi’e cemetery.
By the tomb of Imam Hassan I observed another tomb that is covered by damp and fresh earth. I put up myself on it. The dust smelt the same perfume of the owner of the sack has it. It’s appeared the lovely God perfume into my soul.