Short Story! – No Money For The Crayons!
No Money For The Crayons!
At first she thought she was dreaming – but the stiffled incessantly crying got louder! More louder now! She made a silent prayer to herself more – what is that crying? Who is crying? Is it a Jinn? A ghost? Who could be crying this late at night. She looked over at her husband sleeping by her side – snoring loudly!
The poor man! He had just returned from his taxi business – and the situation was not good at all! He had never seen things so bad like this before – not only people were not using taxis – but they continued to argue endlessly on the rates! Everyone preferred the mini-buses taxis – and the few National buses that sometimes – and infrequently – plied on the same routes! Early morning – after dawn prayers – he would take just a cup of tea – and start on his routes! Breakfast – if any – came far later in the day!
Children Art Images – For Demonstration Purposes Only!
Against his will he had been given early retirement – and the pension was not enough to pay for the installments for the small house he had built from the mortgage loan he had taken! A distant relative had given him the taxi – on condition he got 50% of the returns – and the service and maintenance of the taxi was left for him to do!
Thank God I am a Believer – he cried from within him – and I believe in doing good things in life – otherwise I might have done things my family, friends and relatives would have been ashamed of me! Good things come to those that are patient – the Religion said to him! I must keep going on – even if the struggle and life is all uphill – and there was still no light at the end of the tunnel! I must keep going on – at least for the sake of my family – if not for anyone else!
** Umm Khadija started to get up from the bed – slowly and not to wake her sleeping husband. She sat by the bed – and listened intently where the crying was coming from. She was not imagining things – the crying was audible clear and real. It was coming from the bedroom of the girls’ bedroom. She was debating whether to wake her husband or not? What if the cry was from a Jinn? Could she handle such supernatural things on her own. She had heard of these stories before – but she could not believe it! It was now all coming to her – haunting her – and worrying her to the till!
As we Arabs say – beat your chest with your hand – and go out and see what it was all about? Why are you crying, my child? – she asked her eldest daughter Miriam. Why are you crying child? What is wrong? Pray please tell me – what is wrong – and why are you crying? Do you know it is late at night? These things are not good things to do at this late hour! It brings out bad things – and misfortunes – bad luck only! Crying for no reason! Why are you crying, my child?
To this the child Miriam burst into loud weeping – and the tears poured down her cheeks. Her eyes were red hot for weeping – even could be seen in the dim light of the room. Mummy – the poor child cried – I put off the Air conditioning. Dad always complains about the electricity bill. We must help him – all of us Mummy! If I finish school – and go to College – I will help in the household – I promise Mummy – if I get my first job! Pray for us Mummy!
Children Art Images – For Demonstration Purposes Only!
Image – Omani Taxi – For Demonstration Purposes Only!
Child – are you crying for this reason? You are too young to take all these load on your shoulders – dear child – first pay attention on your schooling – and get good marks and results. All these things will take care of themselves – trust me child! Is this why you are crying now?
No Mummy – I feel so sad and sorry for poor dad! He has to look all of five of us – and we have a long way in school to help him! He always comes back from work – dead tired and worn out! Poor man – he tries hard to feed and look after all of us – with the poor taking he gets from his taxi! And all his pension almost all of it goes to the bank loan. Last month the electricity was cut – because he could not pay in time!
Mummy – the poor girl finally lets out! I had joined in School the Arts class as one of the social studies – extra circular studies. All of us in class are required to join one class or the other. You know Mummy – I like drawing, no? Yes I know child – the mother replied. So what is the problem, child? Mummy, they need us to buy crayons, paint box and canvas paper! I dare not tell Dad – with all the troubles we have already, Mum … you know?
Mummy, you know in school – some of the kids come with very good sandwiches and meals – we come only with the Lebanese bread – with cheese only, Daughter – the Mother retorts – do not only look at those ahead of you in life – there are many others far behind you! I know Mummy – that is why I share my sandwich with my friend! They come to school always empty – and in break they all go and sit under the big tree – looking at all of us with meals brought – whilst they are without! The poor girl cried out again – deep and in pain – hurt read all over her face!
So how much does all the things cost? – the Mother Umm Khadija asks finally her daughter ** Miriam. I do not know Mummy – maybe between ten to fifteen Omani Rials! I dare not ask dad – last time I needed a Compass Box – he shouted at me! Yet a Compass Box is only three Rials at the most! I am scared and afraid Mummy – what can I do now? I like the Arts class – something close to my heart – and my hobby! What can I do, Mummy? Please help me Mummy? When do you need to buy these things? As soon as possible Mummy – because in the class I just watch the others draw. They do not share with me – and the Teachers are not really interested – if we draw anything or not. It is a class they have to monitor – that is it is for them only – Mum!
Okay I will get these things for you my daughter – do not worry about it. Tomorrow I will go and buy these things for you. Write for me what you need? In English or Arabic, Mummy? Does not matter – there will be someone in the Stationary shop for sure who can read Arabic. Do not worry child – go back to sleep now – okay dear child? Sleep now – you need all the rest. She kissed her daughter goodnight.
As she enters her bedroom – her husband Hamza looks at her. What is going on? Oh – it is Miriam – she had a bad dream – but now she has gone back to sleep. It is those horror films she likes to watch on the TV – how many times I tell her – but she does not listen! Let it lie – husband – she is sleeping now. You go back to sleep too – only a few hours to Morning Salaat Fajr (dawn) prayers!
Next day in the morning – Umm Khadija is at the Gold Shop. This was her last piece of gold left she inherited from her late Mother – and what was left from the dowry. As usual the Indian shopkeeper looked at the bracelet from a distance – disdain and disinterest fully manifested on his face. Nobody wants these types of all gold things – I can give you only thirty Rials for this! Surely it is worth more – Umm Khadija pleaded – to no vain! Look Madam – the retort sternly came – do you want thirty Rials or not? Please do not waste my time – I have other customers waiting for me! Now tell me? Okay – what else I can do?
As she walked away from the Gold shop – she was crying deep all inside her – with deep hurting pain and wounds – but at least her daughter can now attend the Art class – finally!
Footnote Sayings –
- There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds! – Laurel Hamilton
- One thing that you cannot hide is when you are crippled inside! – John Lennon
** All names are fictitious and any resemblances are just coincidental!
By Majid Al Suleimany