Suit for Idd
An uncomfortable, unpleasant, indescribable chill feeling suddenly struck Fatma. “Could it be Ali, my son?”
Ladies-young and old, children, youth were yelling to each other on the way to the “well”
- A child is found floating in our local community well
- Was killed and thrown into the well
- Fell while fetching water
- The child is still alive and crying
- Nonsense, it’s long dead.
Only last night Ali, the 4 yrs old son of Fatma has shown his tantrum to his mother. She had come back from the market without a new cloth for him for the Idd-ul-Fitre.
“ All my friends have got new cloths. Mussa got a jeans trouser. Rehema has a nice gown. Mohamed’s father gave Mohamed a suit……….
You! you don’t love me…..So you don’t like to get me a cloth for Idd….. I won’t eat food today……. I will not go to fetch water…….. I will sleep hungry and dirty.
Fatma used to go to the market everyday to sell few items of fruit. With the little money she earned daily, she could not buy much of her merchandise. She had to wait for a good bargain also. By the time she got something to sell, her other friends have already started selling long time back. But she never lost hope. She was absorbed in her own thoughts, her future world. She had to educate her son. One day he would also become a learned man. May be a judge to punish the bad people like Ali’s father. No! she wouldn’t like to remember him. It was a history. A bad history. But it still haunted her.
On several occasions Ali had enquired from his mother about his father. The answer given by the mother was reasonable and satisfying enough to little Ali. He was told that his father had gone to a far place to work and earn a lot of money for him and his mother. He was also assured that his mother was strong enough to defend him from the enemies and dangers in the absence of his father.
Ali remembered the day when his mother really defended him in the bravest way. A stray cow had come running fast at a tremendous speed from nowhere. His mother pushed him behind and picked up the piece of wood lying nearby and hit the cow with all her strength. She did not realize that the wood had a big nail sticking out. Luckily the nail directly plunged into the left eye of the cow. With the pain the cow mowed and rolled onto the floor. They both were saved.
To Ali it was a scene never to be forgotten. A scene, which made him convinced that his mother was a strong woman. He did not need a father to protect them. He could be patient and wait for the day when his father would come back with a lot of presents. The idea of having a lot of presents, to be able to go and show to his friends, to boast in front of them made Ali excited and forget about the father.
As usual on that night also, Fatma had cooked up an explanation.
“Ali my darling, my loving boy! Who says I haven’t got you a suit also for the Idd festival? I bought you a nice suit. But as you see we don’t have a door in our house. We don’t have a strong cupboard to hide your cloth. Thieves can come at night while we are sleeping and steal your suit. So on the way back home I have hidden it at a safe place.”
Fatma was playing with time and luck. She really wanted to buy something for her son this time. She could not wait to finish selling her fruits that day. She wanted to pass by some of the footpath vendors and do a window-shopping. She found the brown suit really appealing.
“It will really look nice on Ali. The two front pockets with the pictures of lions embossed will make him so proud. May be I can even manage to put few coins in the pockets to jingle and show to his friends that he has not only new cloths but money in the pockets.”
But she was short of 400 shillings. She begged the merciless vendor boy to give her the 400 as a discount. The vendor as merciless as he was, shouted back at her, insulted her. She should go away and look for some other vendor who can give her free.
Fatma was praying that the moon would not be sighted on that day. Then the next day she could add up the 400 shillings and would get her son the suit and would make him so happy and she would be so proud watching her son walking majestically with the new suit. The imagination made her face decorated with a little smile.
Ali was not sure of his mother’s safe place was really safe. Hardly there was any corner, which he knew of as safe. He and his friends used to play hide and seek everyday. However cautiously they try to hide, they were always spotted out. He had to make sure his suit was safe.
“Mom, I know a safer place where to hide my suit. Let us go, I will show you.”
Fatma had to think fast before her son finds out about the lie.
Yes! She got the answer.
“You know the big well near the cross road? There people go to fetch water only, nobody goes down to look at the water. So I thought that is the safest place. So my dear, I left your suit there and tomorrow in the morning I will go and collect it. Now it’s already dark. So is somebody hungry now?
After the good news, Ali suddenly felt hungry. Mother and son had a stomach filling meal and went to sleep. Each of them had different plans and thoughts about the new suit.
Fatma planned to leave very early before her son gets up and sell off whatever remained from the day’s merchandise, pick up the suit from that merciless vendor and come back to celebrate IDD with her son.
Before his friends come to show off, Ali wanted this time to be his turn to go and make them jealous. He would not wait for his mother to go and collect the suit, he would go and get the suit himself from the well. He fell asleep immediately.
Fatma saw many people talking, running and shouting something about a child in the well. She saw them all going to the direction of the well.
A sudden chill hit Fatma, her whole body had goose bumps; left her merchandise, rushed to the well pushing her way. People scolded, yelled at her for pushing. Nothing mattered to Fatma. She had to reach there as quickly as possible. May be she would find him still alive.
At the cross road, Fatma found scores of people. She pushed herself in front and looked into the well. She saw a naked child floating face downward.
People were discussing, shouting, planning how best to reach to the floating body. Someone said “We can’t even know whether it is a boy or a girl. We can’t identify. We have to wait for the Police to come and help”.
But Fatma did not need to wait for the police to identify the floating body.
Her instinct was correct. She jumped into the well to join her son.
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