WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM KIDS….
My wife called, ‘How long will you be poring over that newspaper? Will you come here and make your darling daughter eat her food?’
I tossed newspaper away and rushed to the scene. My only daughter Ayesha looked frightened. Tears were welling up in her eyes. In front of her was a bowl filled to its brim with Curd Rice. Ayesha is a nice child, quite intelligent for her age. She has just turned eight. She particularly detested Curd Rice. My mother and my wife are orthodox, and believe firmly in the ‘cooling effects’ of Curd Rice!
I cleared my throat, and picked up the bowl. Ayesha, darling, why don’t you take a few mouthfuls of this Curd Rice? Just for Dad’s sake, dear. And, if you don’t, your Mom will shout at me.
I could sense my wife’s scowl behind my back. Ayesha softened a bit, and wiped her tears with the back of her hands.
OK, Dad. I will eat – not just a few mouthfuls, but the whole lot of this. But, you should… Ayesha hesitated. Dad, if I eat this entire curd Rice, will you give me whatever I ask for?
Oh sure, darling.
I covered the pink soft hand extended by my daughter with mine, and clinched the deal. Ask Mom also to give a similar promise, my daughter insisted. My wife slapped her hand on Ayesha’s, muttering Promise, without any emotion.
Now I became a bit anxious. Ayesha dear, you shouldn’t insist on getting a computer or any such expensive items. Dad does not have that kind of money right now. OK?
No, Dad. I do not want anything expensive.
Slowly and painfully, she finished eating the whole quantity.
I was silently angry with my wife and my mother for forcing my child to eat something that she detested. After the ordeal was through, Ayesha came to me with her eyes wide with expectation. All our attention was on her.
Dad, I want to have my head shaved off, this Sunday! Was her demand
‘Atrocious!’ shouted my wife, a girl child having her head shaved off? Impossible!
Never in our family! My mother rasped. She has been watching too much of television. Our culture is getting totally spoiled with these TV programs!
Ayesha darling, why don’t you ask for something else? We will be sad seeing you with a clean-shaven head. No, Dad. I do not want anything else, Ayesha said with finality.
Please, Ayesha, why don’t you try to understand our feelings? I tried to plead with her.
Dad, you saw how difficult it was for me to eat that Curd Rice. Ayesha was in tears.
And you promised to grant me whatever I ask for. Now, you are going back on your words. Was it not you who told me the story of our Beloved Nabi SALLALLAAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM & how He honoured His promises no matter what?
It was time for me to call the shots. Our promise must be kept.
Are you out your mind? Chorused my mother and wife
No. If we go back on our promises, she will never learn to honor her own. Ayesha, your wish will be fulfilled.
With her head clean-shaven, Ayesha had a round-face, and her eyes looked big and beautiful.
On Monday morning, I dropped her at her school. It was a sight to watch my hairless Ayesha walking towards her classroom. She turned around and waved. I waved back with a smile.
Just then, a boy alighted from a car, and shouted, Aaish, please wait for me! What struck me was the hairless head of that boy. May be, that is the in style, I thought.
Sir, your daughter Ayesha is great indeed! Without introducing herself, a lady got out of the car, and continued, that boy who is walking along with your daughter is my son Muaaz. He is suffering from…leukemia. She paused to muffle her sobs.
Muaaz could not attend the school for the whole of the last month. He lost all his hair due to the side effects of the chemotherapy. He refused to come back to school fearing the unintentional but cruel teasing of the schoolmates.
Ayesha visited him last week, and promised him that she will take care of the teasing issue. But, I never imagined she would sacrifice her lovely hair for the sake of my son!
Sir, you and your wife are blessed to have such a noble soul as your daughter. I stood transfixed. And then, I wept.