Scene 5: MARCHING THROUGH DESERT

 

Narrator: Expelled from Kufa, the caravan pushed forward to Syria.

 

(Women and children come back on, more torn and exhausted, covering their faces with their hair/hands. Sukayna falls, but party moves on)

 

Zainab: Wait! Hold up!

 

Soldier with Whip: (holding whip) Do you want to feel this again?

 

Zainab: Sukayna... fell over...

 

Soldier with Whip: Move along, move it!

 

Zainab: Don't you have any compassion??

 

(Soldier with Spear sets down spear with Imam Husain's head and tries to pick it up, only to realize that it won't budge)

 

Soldier with Spear: What's this? It won't move! (tugs)

 

Shimr: Weakling! (pulls on spear and slaps head) Find out what's wrong!

 

Soldier with Spear: (rushing around frantically, sees Sajjad) You, explain that to us.

 

Sajjad: (quietly) If you help the girl up, you'll be able to pick up the head.

 

Soldier with Spear: Don't give me that... (reconsiders) Here little girl, come along now.

 

(Sukayna gets up and runs to Zaynab)

 

(Soldier with Spear casts an errant look at Sajjad and goes and tugs at the spear. It comes loose)

 

Shimr: Onward!

 

Zaynab: Thank God.

 

(They march across stage)

 

Shimr: Nightfall... halt!

 

(The party stops and the soldiers sit down, keeping captives standing. A monk comes onstage and approaches Shimr, staring at the head the whole time. The monk is wearing a conspicuous cross)

 

Monk: Greetings, soldiers.

 

Shimr: (not very nicely) Greetings.

 

Monk: We are the servants of Jesus. You are welcome to take your night's rest in our monastery.

 

Shimr: We know. (implying that he would do whatever he wants)

 

Monk: Of course you do. (pointing to head) I see your trophy is very valuable to you.

 

Shimr: Extremely.

 

Monk: It must be from a fine man. We have wolves and thieves here. Let me protect it for you inside our monastery walls.

 

Shimr: (drawing sword) Servant of God, are you a thief?.

 

Monk: No, never... I only want the chance to examine your valuable trophy. Will money put you at ease?

 

Shimr: It's not for sale.

 

Monk: I don't want to buy it, I only want to hold it for a while. Take this. (tosses over a bag of money)

 

Shimr: (looks inside. In shock -- yes, something can shock Shimr) 10,000 dirhams?!?! (gestures to soldier with spear) Hand it over. We'll take it back tomorrow.

 

(Soldier with Spear detaches the head and gives it to the Monk)

 

Monk: I thank you, brother. God be with you.

 

Shimr: (grunts in reply)

 

(Monk walks off with head to other side of stage. Monk sets down head and stares at it in fascination)

 

Monk: Just look at it. It's as if light is shining from this wondrous man.

 

Voice of the Head (Imam Husain, offstage): Blessed be you, and blessed be he who knows the value of this head.

 

Monk: (gasps) My Lord, by Jesus, speak!

 

Voice of the Head (Imam Husain, offstage): O Christian monk, what do you want?

 

Monk: Please, tell me who you are.

 

Voice of the Head (Imam Husain, offstage): I am the son of Muhammad al-Mustafa. I am the son of Ali al-Murtadha. I am the son of Fatimah al-Zahra. I am the one killed in Karbala. I am the thirsty, I am the oppressed.

 

Monk: (puts hand on head) Protect me on the Day of Judgement!

 

Voice of the Head (Imam Husain, offstage): Return to Muhammad. Return to the religion of my ancestors.

 

Monk: I will do what you say. (takes off cross and lies it next to head) Ashhadu an laa ilaaha illa Allah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger!

 

(leaves hand on head for a few moments and gazes at it. Shimr approaches)

 

Shimr: (looking with a frown at where the cross used to be) Give it back. (Monk looks at him) I said, give the head back.

 

Monk: (hands head over to Shimr reverently) Dear brother, what you hold is worth much more than any money I could offer. Take good care of it.

 

Shimr: We are.

 

(Shimr takes head and leaves)

 

Shimr: (approaches camp) Everyone up! Let's go!

 

Click here to listen to the sound clip at the end of Scene 5