Be-heading `parched souls' in modern Saudi Arabia

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By rahnuma ahmed
Ma, my soul feels parched. It quivers like a kite.
(`ma, amar attay pani nai, atta ghuddir moto khali orey’)
— Masud Hossain of Purbashinda village, Tangail, one among eight be-headed
in Saudia Arabia on October 7, 2011.
Chopped off in a clean stroke, his head rolled away. His body slumped, it hit the ground.
He had been made to kneel, to wait. A parched soul, quivering inside.
Alongwith seven other young men — Suman from Kishoreganj, Mamun, Suman and Shafiq from Tangail, Faruque from Comilla, Abul and Matiar from Faridpur — Masud was found guilty of murdering Hussain Saeed, an Egyptian security guard in April 2007. They’d allegedly been apprehended stealing cable from a warehouse. All eight were sentenced to death, the following year.

Magic Movement organised a mock execution of 8 publicly executed Bangladeshis in Saudi Arabia, outside the National Museum in Shahbagh, Dhaka on October 15, 2011. ? Monirul Alam

Faruk, the eldest among five sons, worked as a tractor-driver before going to Saudi Arabia as a cleaner. He was a very good boy, said Daudkandi’s union chairman. Twenty-seven year old Suman of Kishoreganj went when he was only 18, earnings sent back had not yet freed the mortgaged family land. My cousin and a muktijoddha union porishod member have been feeding us for the last six months, said his father. Abul too, had gone as a cleaner. His wife left him after he was convicted, say press reports, to re-marry (Kalerkantho, October 10, 2011).
Mamun rang his mother on the day he was executed. Take care, ma. Don’t cry for me. Don’t forget to take your medicine. I’ll call you later. False promises, made by a loving son.
What does it take to carry on a normal conversation with one’s closest ones, when death beckons impassively? To not betray, not even the slightest trace of the soul’s quiver?
I watched one of the be-headings on Youtube, twice. Each time, I cried. Who was it, I wondered. Shafiq? Abul? Maybe Matiar…?
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