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Sa’aduddin Al-Khamseen

There he was. Lean, with his extraordinarily broad forehead and short, but thick beard, streaked with silver at the chin. It was hard to miss him. Though his prematurely greyed hair would not show it, his eyes still had the lingering twinkle of a twenty - seven year old. On his way to the mosque, one could notice his strained face as he ascended the stairs. The limitless torture that he had subjected himself to, were only too evident from his blackened soles and cracked heels, visible as he knelt for Azaan. Denied of the luxury of time, enjoyed by those of his age, he pushed on towards another sweat – siphoning day at the mines. The workers, here, were not fortunate to have helmets, mounted flashlights and customised boots. They wore the traditional kaftaan, and were barefoot. As he approached the entry shaft, the supervisor handed over a candle, a box of matches and the pickaxe. The candle in his hand brought terrifying memories of the week last; when a poor miner was left to his death when a fellow worker lost his grip on a crevice and dropped his burning candle. The miner hanging from the sheer rock face was lucky, climbing out of the coal - mine, just in time to escape the fire sparked by the candle’s contact with a pocket of methane. The fire flourished, eating up the meagre amount of oxygen present in the narrow chamber

where the pathan lay trapped. . The deadly tentacles of smoke put the man out of worldly repair even before the flames could touch him.