Advertisement Post 1
In this sea of children, was a little boy smiling wide and tip toeing his way back. He held his sister’s tiny hand, who was taking baby steps trying hard to catch up with her brother. Occasionally Hadi had to stop for her and she beamed thankfully each time he did. With distance, the mass of children kept on decreasing as more and more children turned to their own specific routes. Hadi and Menahil’s house was farther away from the rest, in fact they were the only ones to go that far. Despite the heat at this part of the day, they didn’t mind going the extra long way. They could always enjoy watching the colorful items put up for display in shops that they passed by. Beautiful dresses for ladies, some were simple, while some were adorned with stones big and small that shone like little stars. Hadi and Menahil’s mother wore similar dresses, except that hers were very simple. She had only one dress that had shiny stars like the ones they saw in this market. She had told them that she had worn it when she and their father got married. Both the children were thoroughly fascinated with this thought and imagined how beautiful their mother would have looked in it. Hadi stopped by a big store that showcased bicycles. The shop was known all over for its good name and excellent goods. Ali, a boy from his class had gotten one from this very shop and everyone was in an awe of it. Hadi hoped that his father would buy him one this Eid, as promised; he had been a good boy at home and at school. The girl hovered in front the store just next to it; it was filled with treasures for a 4 year old like her. Dolls, accessories for those dolls, teddy bears, tiny tea sets, crayons in eye catching boxes, doll houses, plastic make up kits and much, much more. There were goodies like sweets and candies in all flavors, jelly beans, Quality Street chocolates which she had tasted at a friend’s place once, yummy M&Ms and many more names of which she had no knowledge at all. The only treats she had had some infinite many times with her brother was cotton candy sometimes and ice lolly the other. She and Hadi would save some money from their weekly allowance and feast themselves over the weekend. Sometimes when she had been careless of saving, her brother would generously give her his cotton candy. She loved him a lot. He always protected her, be it at school or home. Once, her brother was made to stand all day in the sun as a punishment because he had beaten up a boy who tried to bully Menahil.
“Come on Meenu”, he said as he shook her tiny hand in his. The girl was completely absorbed in what she saw. No response. “Meenu”, he tugged at her sleeve. “Let’s go home. Ammi will be waiting.” Meenu turned to her brother innocently. She had soft cheeks with a touch of pink and big innocent eyes; a dot of longing there that instantly changed into a radiant smile.
“Okay!” She jumped for the first step, then on one leg for the next three holding on his hand.
“Be careful Meenu”, he said in monotone as he smiled at the little angel. How much he loved her! She was a bundle of joy for the family, and Hadi had loved her dearly since the day she was born.
“Hadi bhai (brother)…” she said panting and jumping, with her scarf coming lose on her face. She did it perfectly with her tiny hands.
“Are you still going to get me that doll you promised?” She wanted a Barbie on her birthday but their father didn’t get her one. He said it was not as good as she thought it was, yet every girl in school believed otherwise. Being a girl, Barbie seemed like a prized possession. She was upset and had cried till her brother promised to get her one for Eid. He had some money tucked away and had decided to add his eidi from this year as well.
“Yes I will”, he said brightly. She was ecstatic. They walked in silence, Meenu, taking her usual baby steps and Hadi, holding her hand protectively, leading them home.
“You know why I like Eid?” she was breathless by now.
“Because”, she paused to catch her breath. “Because we have no school and we play all day and Ammi (mother) makes siwayyaan (a dessert made on Eid as a tradition in some households). I like siwayyaan, do you?” She looked up at him expectantly.
“Yes”, he said with his eyes on the way. “And what else do you like?”
“I like wearing new clothes and getting eidi when Baba returns from the mosque with you,” She was smiling all the way.
“Yes, I like that too”, he was distracted thinking about the last night. He was up way beyond his bedtime when he overheard their parents talking. He peeped in and saw his mother put a hand on his father’s shoulders. Baba looked upset.
“It’s everywhere Ayesha. Everywhere I go, the prices are so high. I’m sorry I can’t get you anything for Eid again this year. I had to choose between us and our children. You know how Menahil loves Eid day, and she’s too young to understand why I can’t buy her the toys she wants or a new Eid dress. Hadi is my son and I can’t ignore him either, can I? I don’t want to see the longing in their eyes. It kills me”, Baba took Ammi’s hand in his. “My dear Ayesha, how beautiful you are, and how I wished to see you in something lovely this Eid, something befitting your beauty and grace. I had enough savings for all of us this Eid, but Hadi’s torn shoes came as an off guard expense.”
“Hush”, she put a finger on his lips. “You must know I understand.” Hadi left after that, realizing he had heard something that wasn’t meant for little children to hear. The words stayed with him that long night but he decided not to feel sorry for himself and his family. Not ever. They had each other and that was all that mattered.
“Bhaaiiiii”, Meenu’s sound caught his attention.
“What are you thinking?” She seemed tired. With a whoosh, he scooped Meenu in his little arms and she instantly clung to him.
“Okay”, she made a face like the one she always made when she sensed Hadi had a secret from her but it only made her look cuter.
“What’s that face for?” he laughed.
She remained silent and hid her face in his shoulder. Turning into another ally, they took their last steps towards their house. It was a dirty one and no one from their school lived there in the whereabouts. There were mud puddles everywhere from the rain last night. He walked slowly, careful not to get his new shoes wet. As he came closer, he could hear his grandfather’s voice from inside, asking his mother about the children’s return. He smiled instantly as he thought “Home!” Hadi held his baby sister protectively and knew he loved her more with every minute. He promised himself he would get her that much longed for Barbie this Eid and everything else on some bright day of his bright future. He would work really hard at his studies so he grows up to an industrious young man. Though Hadi was young, he knew where his real happiness truly resided: Home.