I felt extremely tired as I sat in the car with my husband and kids that warm evening. It was a hectic day in school as the new session was about to start and all the hassle of preparing results and organizing for a new session had me weary for the past week. We were going to a book shop to buy books and stationary for my kids for their upcoming session in school. Since it was the beginning of new season there was a massive amount of buyers in the all the book shops across the street. As I entered the diagonally opposite shop where my husband parked the car, I could see two elongated rows of buyers waiting for their turn to reach the counter. I unenthusiastically stood at the end of one of the rows. I wanted to leave the shop and try to make my business done from somewhere else but anticipating the same situation everywhere I stood there waiting for my turn. As I was two turns away from the man in his 40s sitting calmly on the counter dealing with forbearance the unending sea of customers, I saw an old man evidently the grandfather of a young boy standing next to him. The man was wearing a turban on the head and a pair of kameez and dhoti. The boy seemed to be seven to eight year old in a dim worn out shalwar kamees and a pair of rubber slippers broken around the edge. Handing over the list of books to the salesman, the old man proudly looked at the boy, who was excited as if he was about to unfold a secret treasure. I could easily ascertain the intense eagerness igniting those beaming eyes.
The salesman compiled the books and announced the amount of money he had to pay. The old man repeated behind in a cracked voice. Yes, the salesman replied. He hesitantly reached his pocket taking out the money he had, but the amount he had was not enough, he counted again and said in a weak voice “I will get the money “. The salesman replied “no problem sir”. The old man took the hand of the boy and walked towards the door. The boy could not grasp what had happened why they were leaving without taking the books. The frustration on the man’s face was irrepressible. The boy was dejected, he had thousand questions to ask, why couldn’t he get the books? Why can’t he when other kids of his age happily leaving the shop with the bundle of new books in their hands. I wanted to stop them, I wanted to help them with all the money I could but something stopped me. I don’t know what, I was crying inside my heart, I wanted to see that boy happily carrying the packet to his home. I saw them leaving the shop, the old man dismally made the child sit on the ill-conditioned cycle which they had ridden on and left. I turned around to see my husband standing at the corner of the packed room. Sensing my discomfort he asked me the reason with a movement of his hand, I turned my head with watery eyes avoiding contact with him.
It has been three years now since then, I still mourn the sorrow and grief that the boy went through that day. I can never forget those cheerful eyes suddenly going void, expressionless, that beaming face suddenly going dark and gloomy, that innocent mind suddenly inquiring questions, answers to which no one had. It is true that ALLAH (S.W.T) chooses the luckiest of his men to help his people in need. Sometimes the opportunity to please ALLAH knocks on your door but you fail to respond. That day I wasn’t among the lucky ones. No matter how many people I please through gifts, charity or donations, repentance on my indecisiveness that day will never end.