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Now, a long time has elapsed from those days. The man had been taken to Tehran for the interrogation to be completed and he couldn’t avoid answering. He was keenly aware of the empty seat in his cell. His cell wouldn’t be given to anyone else, since he was to come back. Some time elapsed and he returned. He was being tried for some days and then, unlike those days before he went to Tehran, he was allowed to come and see us in our collective cell. Once he told us the following story. I will relate those pieces that I will try to summon from the various parts of my mind and memory. Although it is painful, it has a firm message which will have a deep impact upon every reader. Hearkento what he suffered and told us:
I had been brought to Tehran for only a few days. I was alone in a cell. Sometimes, I would be taken for interrogation and they would try hard to hear from what I said whatever they wanted to hear; I was also allowed to write and sign at the end of my responses as a confirmation. One day, at dawn, I was awakened. I didn’t know what the matter was. The same man who used to interrogate me was at the door. He told me, “Get up! Today I will grant you the greatest bounty you have ever seen so far!” I got up, and set out with him and one or two others. Our destination was unknown to me.
We walked some distance and reached a container used as a room. This kind of room is temporarily used here and there, and may be replaced whenever they want. Some pieces of rope were hanging; one or two men had already been hanged and some dead flesh was seen on the ground. The man said, ‘behold carefully; I’ll tell you later.” I cannot describe what I felt then. I didn’t know if the hanged ones were guilty or not; anyway, the souls of these wretches had soared unto heaven and the flesh had to be buried below the earth. We continued walking. At dawn that day the interrogator, as if he had won a great victory, walked haughtily; you would have thought he would defy the whole world.
The same story was repeated. Another room, some more flesh, and some hanging bodies which had no movement at all, as if their souls had not seen any value in this world to entice them to stay longer and had left theur flesh behind for the interrogator who deserved it. The same words, the same behavior, and nothing else.
We went on and entered the third room. A piece of rope was hung from the ceiling; the end of the rope was like a hoop; a man was standing below the rope waiting on a stool, his hands tied on the back. The interrogator said, “Your religion says you should obey the government, and now it is I — the government — since I am its official representative. So you should observe whatever I tell you.” He stopped talking, and as was his habit, stared into my eyes to see what would be my reaction. Then, he cast a look at the man below the rope; I didn’t know him at all. Again, his horrible voice was heard, “go up!” I went up. “Put the hoop around his neck!” I hesitated for a moment and looked directly to the eyes of the waiting man, and I said, “I don’t know who you are. I am such and such a person from such and such a city. I am here, in this city, for some days to be questioned and to give some answers and then I will return to my own town. I am a Baha’i.”
The man on the stool looked at me kindly and affectionately and said, “I am most happy that I will set out towards eternity at your hands; it is much preferable to being hanged by his hands,’ and he pointed to the interrogator. Then he continued, “I am such and such a person; from among the people of Baha, like you; and now I am taking a long trip to have the honor of seeing my dear Baha. So, don’t worry and don’t fear either. Do whatever he says. I am eager to go; I have been eager for a long time, and I am happy now that the time is ripe for it.”
I admired his steadfastness; I cast a look behind me, at the interrogator. He was waiting just to see what we would do and what our reaction would be. I looked at the Baha’i man again and hugged him; then I kissed him and said farewell, wishing him a good trip. Then I put the hoop of the rope around his neck. The interrogator said, ‘let the stool get rid of him.” I drew the stool. The man was freed into the air and the rope got tight around his neck. A small movement was seen in his body which you couldn’t see after a while any longer. There was a nice smile on his lips, as if he had seen his Master and Beloved at the time of leaving here, Who had opened His arms to embrace him; he knew that He was ready to welcome him.
The man soared high into heaven, but his lifeless body was hanged there on the rope. I came back to my own world, and, accompanied by the interrogator, I went back to my cell and to this painful memory, engraved profoundly inside my soul, which remained with me. Now, this thought hurts me: whether I could have refrained from obeying the interrogator, and whether it was the Will of my loving God or the wish of the interrogator, who didn’t know the meaning of affection at all.
Now, years have elapsed from that day when he, painfully, related the story to us. It was not long after that day when he himself took the same trip. A bullet entered his cranium from the back and left it through his cheek.After but a moment his soul was in the presence of his Beloved, and the flesh was ready to go back to the earth. When his body was accompanied and escorted by many cars and people in that city, everybody asked: ‘who is he that so many people are escorting him?” The guards were kind enough to answer the people, “a martyr is being taken;” and, in fact, he was a martyr who testified to the Truth of his Beloved. May his soul be happy now, and may his memory be cherished forever.