An Innocent Footstep Led to a Fate of Blind Death

Sheep Return without A Shepherd

Wednesday, February 28, 2024
An Innocent Footstep Led to a Fate of Blind Death

Ali Hamed, a fourteen-year-old, eighth among his seven siblings, was accustomed, like all the children in the village of "Al-Hudn" nestled in the countryside of Abyan province, to venture out, engage in play, and undertake the duties of shepherding sheep. Despite the harsh living conditions endured by most families in the area, Ali never failed to find moments of joy amidst the adversity of reality.

On the morning of Sunday, December 4th, 2023, at seven o'clock, Ali embarked on his routine task of herding the family's sheep—the primary source of their livelihood—in the vicinity of his village. He carried with him provisions: a cloth bag containing water and some dry bread.

In an unusual departure from routine, his father accompanied him to the doorstep, bidding him farewell as he set off. The father watched his son's departure until he vanished with the flock over the horizon towards the pasture as if an inner sense forewarned him that it might be their final parting. For the first time, his mother also followed suit, bidding him farewell at the door as his father had done.

Ali proceeded with his flock towards the pasture, opting this time to head for the grazing area of "Thurrah," one of the regions where clashes between the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group and Saleh supporters against the Southern Resistance forces had occurred during the turbulent years of 2015 to 2016. Despite the withdrawal of the warring parties from the area, the mines they had laid remained dormant, posing a constant threat to innocent civilians seeking necessities such as water, firewood, or the grazing of livestock.

At two o'clock in the afternoon on December 4th, 2023, while Ali was frolicking and leaping with his sheep on his return journey home, tragedy struck. His foot inadvertently triggered a metallic object, igniting a ferocious explosion that tore his body apart, claiming his life instantaneously. The sound of the blast summoned nearby villagers who arrived to witness a gruesome sight: a child with severed limbs and a mutilated body, surrounded by five charred sheep.

After identifying him, they tenderly wrapped what remained of his body in a blanket and transported it to his father's house. Upon receiving the news of his son's fate and seeing the remnants of his body, his father was overwhelmed with shock and grief, unable to contain his anguish at the tragic end of his beloved son.

Ali's remains were brought inside the house, where a shroud was placed over the blanket enveloping his body. His face and certain parts of his body, marred by shrapnel wounds, were carefully cleansed, while his mother and sisters wept inconsolably as they bid him farewell, knowing he would never return.

His mother's poignant words echo through the house: "His presence lingers in every corner; we shall remember him always. He was a beacon of light in our lives, now extinguished. Though he may dwell in our hearts, our tears flow unabated."

In solemn silence, his mother's tear-filled eyes spoke volumes as the sheep returned, but their shepherd did not.