Sûrah IX
REPENTANCE
"It is not for the Prophet, and those who believe, to pray for the forgiveness of idolaters even though they may be near of kin to them after it hath become clear that they are people of hell-fire."

9
PENANCE

Nightmare Two:

I have the target in my crosshairs. We are practicing. East of the compound. I am lying, prone-position, elbows plantedólike we are taught. The other rifles "pop, pop, pop" as bullets massacre lifeless dummies, pseudo humans made of rags and stuffed with cow dung mixed with straw. Mine has a face, too far away to make out clearly. Simple features:  button eyes, a carrot nose, its mouth a crooked line of stitches. Mute, it waits. I close my finger on the trigger with a smooth and steady pressure. Aim is sure. A sleek projectile races fatally toward its mark. But time plays tricks. Instead of death within a second's hasty fraction, his takes longeróhis a countenance grown familiar... known... to me... and mine... to him. Before the shot I fire makes contact, daughter knows father, father knows child, and daughter knows heartache, grief, contrition. Father knows naught; the shell hits hardódung turned to tissue, straw to sinew, rags to mutilated flesh-and-blood. I run and run but get no closer, run and run but cannot save him, run and run but have to witness from afar his dying gaze, the love-filled pathos on his face... if only I could reach him, say I'm sorry, close the ground, the gap between us. When I do, I arrive too late. He has reverted, bones to sticks, his stuffing up in flamesómy guilt igniting them... my sins, before and since, never to be absolved.