The Story of Little Zayd
A trip to the Village
(3rd and final part)
Maulana Haidar Ali Madani
On the land behind Uncle’s house, there was a garden that belonged to both uncles. When little Zayd arrived, he saw that the gardener was digging a flower bed of roses. Seeing the children arrive, he stood up whilst dusting off his hands. Uncle greeted the gardener and said: ‘Meet my nephew little Zayd who has come from the big city.’ After meeting him, they started walking through the garden. There were rows of trees full of mangoes, peaches, plums and dates. In the corners of the garden were banana trees that had formed a boundary around the garden. On one side, there were flower beds filled with buds, and alongside tulips, there were roses that were red, white, yellow and purple, all of which were blooming. Chirping away, birds would fly around the entire garden from tree to tree. Butterflies would also go from one flower to another as if they were playing with them. One of the cousins tried to catch a butterfly, but little Zayd exclaimed: ‘Brother, do not do that! Butterflies are very delicate; their wings might break if we catch them.’ Uncle smiled at this and said: ‘Little Zayd is correct. Let the butterflies play with the flowers.’
After exploring the entire garden, Uncle took the children towards the end of the garden. Here, beneath the large, dense and shady trees, a well was running. Next to it was the gardener’s house, which had a big seating area outside. The uncle said: ‘All you children should go and wash your hands and face and then sit down. The gardener will now serve you.’
After some time, the gardener arrived with some freshly picked strawberries and peaches. Having washed them with the cold water from the well, he presented them to the children and said: ‘Here, take these fresh strawberries and peaches and eat them.’ Whilst laughing, he added: ‘But take care not to ruin your clothes, otherwise your mothers might not be too pleased!’
They explored and walked through the garden until the afternoon. Uncle took the children home and lunch was prepared for them. The children sat on a mat in the garden in front of the cooler and were given warm desi ghee mixed with sugar along with pickles and tandoori roti. This was the most unique lunch that little Zayd ever had, and it was extremely delicious too, which is why he said: ‘Mother, when we leave, let’s take some sugar from grandmother so you can make this lunch for me again.’
His mother smiled, and grandmother said: ‘Yes, get some sugar and desi ghee ready for my grandson right away.’
After performing the Zuhr prayer, the children were told not to go out in the heat of the sun. Instead, they remained indoors and slept. Grandmother would watch over them, and it was impossible for even the naughtiest of children to get away and go outside. However, they feared nothing more than the walking stick that she held. Although nobody had ever been hit by her stick, the fear was still there.
The next day, little Zayd was shown the barn where cows and buffalos were tied up in rows eating fodder. There were goats roaming around in one section, and the chickens were going everywhere. Sometimes they would sit on top of a buffalo, and sometimes they would enter the area where the goats were and peck on some grains. Then, Uncle told little Zayd to close his eyes and open out his hands. Little Zayd felt something soft on his hands and immediately opened his eyes. There, in the palm of his hand, was a small chick; it jumped and ran away. Before it became really hot, Uncle told one of the workers to tie the cows and buffalos in the shade and then went home with the children.
A month flew by in which little Zaid walked in the fields, ate fruit from the gardens and was smothered with love from his grandmother and uncles. One day, his mother told him that his father would be coming to collect them, and so little Zayd started packing the gifts he had received. The next evening, when getting into the car with his father, little Zaid began recalling the beautiful memories of the village and promised his cousins that they would visit again next year. He was thinking how brilliant it would be if their house was there so that all the cousins could live together and enjoy themselves. However, children, always remember, if love remains in the heart, then distances are nothing.