Saturday morning, Sabir is all set to play soccer with his father. As he relishes last piece of his breakfast pancakes with maple syrup, he hears a thunder. It is followed by the sweet smell of earth greeting the first drizzles of rain. Abba (Father) comforts sad Sabir, “Insha Allah, we will play soccer next Saturday.” Rain picks up pace and few drops of rain splash against Sabir through the window. Sabir wipes his face and shifts away from window. He says, “There is no other option for me.” They notice a broken window shield. Abba announces, “We’ll have to mend it once the rain stops. I’ll check if other sun shades are fine.” As Sabir wonders what to do, Abba leaves to check other rooms.
Few feet away from them Sabir’s Appy (Elder sister), Salma is engrossed in her painting. She sparingly uses her new acrylic paints. She had spent her Eidy(Money gifted to her on the day of Eid) on these colours. She is sure these colors and her new brush strokes would enhance her painting. Their sister, a naughty kindergartener Saba is also silent today! She too was trying her hand in painting. While Salma’s painting looked like a mountain range, Saba’s imitation of Salma’s painting just had brown M, N, W and X. Sabir decides to play with them. He waits for them to complete their work. Salma is no mood to leave her scroll. He spots her dreamily look at her collection of trophies. She had won the painting contest for two successive years. She was confident that she’ll win this year too.
Sabir teases her, “Oh no! Appy, tomorrow you’ll win again! Then we’ll have one more trophy to dust and clean. So sad.” Still dreamy Salma utters, “Insha Allah! Farha has purchased oil paints too. I’m afraid she would do better than me.” Saba giggles as she dips her fingers into the green poster color to paint trees. There was more paint on her than on paper. With brown and green color on face, she looked like a little commando. Impatient Sabir requests, “Please, stop painting Appy. You don’t need to practice. You are sure to win. Let us play hide and seek. “Annoyed Salma questions Sabir, “Why haven’t you left with Abba to play soccer?” Surprised to see Salma so engrossed in her work Sabir exclaims, “Can’t you see, it’s raining cats and dogs?” Salma and Saba look out for the first time.
Saba looks worried. She grabs a wooden ruler which was lying next to her and charges towards the entrance. Sabir asks her, “Where are you going?” Bold Saba announces as she runs, “To save the raining cats from the dogs.” Salma laughs aloud. Salma turns towards Saba to explain that it only means it’s raining heavily. To her horror, she sees Saba slipping down few feet away from her. The rain drizzling from window had found its way into dinning cum living room. Poor Saba had steeped on it. What happened next was more like a scene from a Rugby match. Sabir runs to catch Saba. Salma dives down and catches Saba. Sabir loses balance and falls over them. Salma screams in pain, “Ahhhhhhhh!” Amee and Abba rush in to see Salma’s hand pinned down by Salma and Sabir. Salma tries to get up but couldn’t. She cries in pain, “My hand hurts. I cannot move it.” Amme recites suratul Fatiha and blows on her hand. Abba carefully lifts her and rushes her to the closest hospital.
A couple of hours latter Salma returns with her arm tightly wrapped and resting in a sling. Sabaa runs to salma and asks, “Have the bones here snapped?” Salma stares back. Abba turns towards the concerned mom and says, “Alhamdhulilah, It’s just a sprain. She will be fine in a week.” Amme asks poor Salma, “Are you in pain dear?” Salam replies with a long face, “ No Amme. I feel better now. Doctor has also prescribed medicines for pain. But Amme, how will I paint tomorrow. I wanted to win. I could have.” Amme calms Salma and takes her to room. It was Salma and Saba’s room. It was painted in baby pink and was adorned with various shades of pink -Sparkling pink curtains; bright pink bed spreads and fluorescent flowers. There was a white teddy bear besides Saba’s bed. Salma’s wardrobe was adorned by her painting. Salma’s room always had a calming effect on her. As Amme fed Salma hot tomato pepper soup she suggested, “Allah is best of planners. Your paintings are too precious for this contest. Once you recover we can submit your paintings for other contests. Take rest.” Salma’s medicines make her drowsy. Amme leaves her to sleep.
That day, Salma secludes herself in the room. Amme goes to check on Salma. Sabir and Saba rush behind her. To everybody’s surprise, Salma was trying to paint with her left hand! She tries hard to perfect her strokes. She tries just drawing straight lines. The lines twist! She tries again. The result was almost the same. Still, she ignores the result and proceeds to paint a cottage on a new scroll. She requests, “Amme I just had medicines. Please can I have dinner later? I want to paint alone. Insha Allah I’ll call you when the master piece is ready.” Amee agrees. As she leaves she cautions Salma, “Don’t strain yourself dear.” Salma affirms with a smile, “Sure Amme, I’ll be careful.”
An hour later, Salma calls Amme. Saba and Sabir rush into the room. Nervous Salma manages to smile. She shows her painting and questions, “So, how does it look?” Sabir doesn’t know what to say. Anmee enters the room and cheers Salma, “Oh sweety, you surprise me. When your first attempt to paint with your left hand is this good, you can do much better tomorrow.” Salma breathes with relief. Saba decides to complement, “Not bad, you are almost as good as me.” Saba’s honest complement broke Salma’s fake smile. Saba is also first to console Salma! “Don’t worry. Insha Allah, you could end up painting like me in the contest.” Sabir couldn’t help but smile. Salma on the other hand started sobbing. She utters, “Now I’ll be a laughing stock”. Amme hugs and pats Salma. Amme whispers to Salma, “It’s okay. You don’t need to paint. You could win next year.” Saba doesn’t understand why Salma is upset. Amme suggests, “Saba, why don’t you stay back and color something to cheer Salma. Salma needs to eat her dinner now.” Saba gladly agrees. Amme takes Salma to dining room. Sabir joins them.
Amme had made Salma’s favorite fried rice for dinner. Chicken, capsicum, cabbage, carrots and corn made the rice colorful. Amme’s choice of herbs and sauces raised fried rice to whole new level. Salma realizes her stomach is grumbling and tries to reach out for plate. A sharp pain and the wrap around her hand stop her. She starts sobbing again. Abba joins them. He announces, “Today, I’ll feed Salma dinner. Do you remember Salma I used to feed you when you were a baby? Then, I never got a chance to pamper you like that.” Salma wipes her tears and smiles. As he feeds Salma Abba jokes, “You used to bite my fingers. I better be careful.” In no time, the plate was clean. After a hearty meal Salma hopes for a dessert. She questions, “Abba will you feed me desert too?” Amme declares, “I didn’t make a desert. But, I have something better.” She hands Abba a hand full of dates. Sabir jokes, “At least it grows in desert.”
Abba nudges Sabir and says, “Dates are packed with iron and nutrients. Even few dates can win Allah’s appreciation.” Seeing kids astonished, Abba asks, “Do you want to hear about it?” Sabir and Salma shout with excitement, “Yes.” Abba narrates, “Once prophet Muhamed Saw, ordered muslims to give charity to ease hardship of muslims. Companions of prophet competed in righteousness. Umar RA had donated Half of his wealth for the cause. He was sure he would surpass Abu bakr RA.” Sabir exclaims, “Half of his wealth! That should be lot! How much did Abu bakr RA donate?” Abba narrated slowly, “He donated alllll his wealth.” Salma and Sabir had their eyes wide open. Amazed Salama asked, “Didn’t he leave anything?” Abba responded, “When prophet was concerned about his companions’ family. Abu bakr RA just responded with, ‘He had left Allah and His messenger’. Umar Ra applauded Abubakr Ra by admitting that He would never be able to surpass Abubakr RA. See, how they encouraged one another.” Salma and Sabir were spell bound. Abba continued, “There is more to this story. One of the companions had worked very hard all night and earned about two measures of dates. He donated a measure of dates. Few ill hearted people made fun of such poor companions. Though it appeared little, Allah SWT appreciated and accepted the donation and admonished those who made fun of them. ALLAH KNOWS WHAT IS IN OUR HEART. We can only see the apparent. Allah knows the efforts we take to please Him.” Salma utters, “Allah o akbar.” Sabir concluded, “Oh! You were referring to these donated dates as priceless.”
Abba continued, “And now comes the best part of the story. They had collected these funds for a strenuous journey. Sick and weak people were advised to stay back. They were upset. Due to thier sincerity, Allah will reward them in abundance. “Salma was spell bound. Sabir feeds Salma last date fruit and utters, “Sincerty to Allah makes all the difference”.
Amme announces, “Now that you have heard the story get ready for bed.” Amme accompanies Salma to her room. They are shocked to see a mess there. Saba was standing there with a huge smile. “Aaaappy! I have made your cottage colorful. This should make you happy.” Saba had used her fingers to colour. In the process, she had mixed Salma’s new colors. Amme fears that Salma would be very upset. Instead Salma hugs and kisses Saba. Salma happily says, “Thank you dear. You have taught me to go back to basics.” Stunned Amme asks Salma, “Are you not upset seeing your colors ruined.” Salma happily announces, “Why should I be? It’s not the expensive colors that paint. I am blessed with creative fingers. Alhamdhulillah, Saba has brought my attention to them and it’s all I need for the contest.” Amme realizes Salma was going to do finger painting. She warns Salma, “Salma it won’t be enough to win.” With a big smile Salma states, “Winning isn’t everything. I’ll do my best. That’s all that which matters.” Amme proudly pats Salma.
Next day, Abba and Saba accompany Salma to the contest. On returning Salma seems calm. She wasn’t excited as usual. Amme asked her how was her day. She casually replied, “good”. In order to not upset Salma, Sabir asks Saba, “What happened there?” Saba replies, “Their topic was: ‘A place you long to visit’ I peeped in to see what others were coloring. Farha drew Taj Mahal. The girl next to window drew a fun park. It was so nice.” Annoyed Sabir asks, “What did Salma draw?” Saba said flatly, “She used just two colors – Black and white. She mixed them in different proportions and painted like me. I couldn’t see what she drew as she was far from the window. She refused to tell me too.” Everybody was convinced that Salma was upset.
By evening whole family went to the award ceremony. As expected, Salma hadn’t won any prize. Farha got First prize. Then there was a special announcement! “Last year’s winner Salma had sprained her hand. Still, she competed and did a finger painting. What she drew in shades of grey mesmerized our judges. Here it is:” Salma’s painting of KABATULLAH was projected on stage. Several audiences applauded with Allaho akbar. Salma was given special sprize as appreciation for her dedication.
Amme pats Salma and says, “I can’t be happier.” Salma tactfully responds, “We would be happier when we visit my favourite place for Umrah. Abba, Will you take us there?” Proud Abba responds with a big a smile, “Insha Allah.” Saba turns to Sabir and says, “No matter what Salma does we end up with a trophy to dust and clean.” Salma laughs aloud.
[Story narrated by Father is adopted from expedition of Tabouk- Seeratun nabi]