(7) The Betrayal

Pin drop horrifying silence prevailed all round
The mosque of Kufa stood on hallowed ground
Treachery it had witnessed time and again
It was the mosque where Ali had been slain.
The town crier was reading the Governor's decree
"To associate with Muslim will not go free
He is an emissary of Prophet's grandson, Husayn
Who has refused allegiance to Yazid, with disdain."
When the prayer was over, Muslim looked back
The mosque was empty, earlier it was packed
He glanced at his host, Hani Ibn Urwah
No words were needed, only a breath choking, Ah!
The packed mosque had just witnessed jubilant scenes
So great was the rush to swear allegiance to Muslim
They had madly jostled and vied with each other
In honoring Muslim, as Husayn's cousin brother.
They exchanged glances, the picture was clear
For their own lives they had absolutely no fear
To inform Master Husayn was the sole prime need
Whom could they trust? No, none, indeed!
Hani rushed out, choked to the brim
He had in his house, two sons of Muslim
He whisked them out by the back door
For safety's sake, there was no other go.
Muhammad and Ibrahim, two innocent lads
Were anxiously awaiting return of their dad
They were now on the road; alone, all alone!
The cruel treacherous world was now their home.
Soon was Hani's house completely surrounded
The hopes he had nourished were soon grounded
He fought the armed troops of upstart Obeidullah
The odds were too heavy; he prayed to Allah!
He was soon overpowered and chained
There was now no hope which remained
His only thought was to inform post haste
To Husayn, of the events and breach of faith
After Hani's departure, he reflected a while
A train of thoughts flowed, mile after mile
Hani was sincere, there was no iota of doubt
But if in danger, whom could he for help shout.
He thought of his sons, the two young kids
In the house of Hani, he hoped they were hid
He prayed to God to spare him for a little while
So that, to Husayn, he could send the secret file.
It was night, he had no place to go
Tired and forlorn, his walk was slow
Curfew was imposed, no soul stirred out
The search was on in all possible hideouts.
He sat for a while and leaned against the door
The door of a house with an old muddy floor
An old lady came out to see who it was
"My son! Why do you not return to your house?"
"Do you not have a wife nor children?
Go and rest, in peace, in your own garden!"
A lump came to his throat: yet, he sadly smiled
"I come from the house of the Prophet," he replied.
The venerable old lady was in shocking pain
"My God! You are Muslim, the Emissary of Husayn,
How did I fail to recognize you, O, My Lord!
What reply will I give to my Most Merciful God?"
She hid him on the old wooden attic floor
Extinguished the lights and shut the door;
Her son soon returned from his usual rounds
He was in the army of the Yazidi hounds.
"Hani has been beheaded," he declared,
"The search is now on for Muslim and his lads."
The simple old lady was moved to tears
And confided to her son, her own gnawing fears.
The son was elated at the fortunate news
He pretended sorrow, as a deceitful ruse,
"I will soon be back with the two young lads"
And rushed to his Master, Obeidullah Ibn Ziad.
The sound of horses hoofs were approaching near
Muslim was in his prayers; he knew no fear
He immediately realized, he had been betrayed
His time was up; he would soon be dead!
The noble lady was aghast! How could she explain?
It was her son who had brought her everlasting shame
Muslim assured Taha that he was absolutely sure,
She was a lover of Husayn and his grandsire!
The lane was narrow, it had no width
Two horses abreast could hardly breath
It was an ideal ground for single combat
Like lion, Muslim ferociously fought.
To the enemy, it soon became abundantly plain
It was a futile and sure loosing game
From housetops, they hurled missiles and stones
Seriously wounded, M7uslim left his vantage position.
He desperately moved forward; they all fell back
So fierce was the charge, they all fled in a pack
To stop him, they thought of a clever ruse
They dug a trench and had it covered, as subterfuge.
He rushed on wielding his sword dexterously
He fell in the trench, as planned treacherously;
The retreating hounds soon swooped down
In no time, he was heavily chained and bound.
In the streets of Kufa, he was soon paraded
Those who had sworn him allegiance, were delighted
They were watching him with perfect equanimity
As if he was an utter stranger; what rascality!
"As per Arab custom, I shall fulfill it
Your last wish if you shall reveal it."
A glint of hope came to Muslim's eyes
Why not accept and make this final try?
Obeidullah, if you are true to your word,
Fulfill my last wish and inform my lord
To return to Medina, before it is late
As coming to Kufa, would be a sheer waste.
The crafty Obeidullah was absolutely flabbergasted
Spare the lives of my two sons, he could have suggested
He could not even imagine, how could a person
Think of his master, when doomed were his sons.
Muslim's last wish did not go in vain
Merciful God kindled the heart of one of them
He left Kufa post-haste to fulfill his mission
And informed Husayn of Muslim's martyrdom.
Husayn wept bitterly, as never before
Muslim's daughter realized her father was no more
One pair of earrings, he lovingly gave to her
And another to Sakina, his child most dear.
"Are you returning back?" the messenger inquired
"No! I am not," Husayn, very sadly replied
"As ordained, I am going to meet my destiny,
And so are my faithful friends, who are with me."