Islamic Short Story - Selling Ceramic Chickens
Author: Gous Ahmed
This is a short Islamic story about a young man who lives and works in England, living with his wife and two young children. His parents are in Bangladesh, and they are in their old age, cannot work and live on whatever funds is given to them by their son, Jamal.
'Ok father, i'll send it by the end of today'.
'Thank you son. We are ok here, but you need to pay off as much debt as possible, and we will struggle on as we are doing now, but you don't have to worry about us. We haven't got much money left, so will run out very soon. God will look after us, you take care of yourself.'
Jamal put the phone down, looked at his watch and stood up, walked into the kitchen and said to his wife, 'Is the food ready? I'm going to get ready for work, i'll be down in two minutes.'
He walked up the stairs and changed into his white shirt and black trousers then came back downstairs. Jamal finished eating and left the house for work.
While he was driving to work he could not stop thinking about his parents and the state they are living in Bangladesh. They live in a small village, surrounded by miles and miles of countryside. The land is owned by other people and they only have a few acres of land which are not worth very much.
Jamal really worries about his mother and father very much, he thinks about them nearly every day. He loves them very much and keeps in touch with them. He is earning quite a lot of money each month, but because he has a high amount of outstanding debt, he is unable to pay them off and send money to his father. This restrains Jamal from sending money to his parents regularly so they struggle on and live on what they can each day, although he would like to support them financially if it was possible.
Three Months Later
Jamal's parents came to England on a holiday visa, living with him in his house. It was Friday, the day of Jum'a, Muslim worship day at the mosque. Men go to the mosque to do their prayer, while women do it at home in the afternoon. Jamal's father looked very enthusiastic to go to prayer early, as he was an Imam (Priest) back in bangladesh. He used to lead the prayers, in front of up to 200 people, and maybe he was very excited at how many people would turn up and also would get to see the new built, bigger mosque in the muslim community.
Jamal came downstairs after having a shower and wearing the appropriate clothing for the prayer. He asked his wife where his father was, and she replied that he has already gone to the mosque. Jamal was surprised because he had not shown him where the mosque was. He thought maybe his dad will follow other people who are also on their way to the mosque. Jamal asked his wife if she needed anything from the shops on his way back, and she asked him to get some Bangladeshi fish for his father. He left the house and started walking to the mosque, which was only five minutes walk away.
Jamal's father set up a small stall near the path leading to the mosque, with three different designs of medium sized ceramic chickens. They were very colourful and smoothly made. He was standing there touching his ceramic chickens for sale, and what better opportunity to sell them, with hundreds of people walking down the path in groups. As people were walking past, they were looking at him as if to say 'Who is this madman?'. The reason why Jamal's father set up the stall to sell ceramic chickens was to raise money and give it to his son, because he thought his son is struggling due to the lack of it. His father did not seem like he was in a rush to go inside the mosque and start praying, although the adhaan (call to prayer) had taken place already.
Jamal walked down the path towards the mosque, hurrying not to miss the prayer because he was late. He started walking faster. The path was surrounded by tall green bushes so he could not see what was around the corner. As he came round the final bend of the path leading to the mosque, he saw a man standing there wearing a prayer cap and a long white Arabic thobe (long prayer shirt). He felt his heart breaking into a million pieces as soon as he realised it was his father. Standing there motionless, speechless and feeling of guilt, not humiliation, he put both of his hands to his chest to put pressure on the pain building up inside him. He knew exactly what was going, as if his father was telling him what he was doing and why he was doing this.
Jamal did not confront his father, nor did he go near him to remind him that the prayer had started. He still stood there watching. Still holding his hands against his chest, but now the pressure against his chest was becoming agonisingly painful, not to mention tears of blood racing down his cheeks and his teeth locking into one another tightly. With his face showing a thousand different emotions at the same time, his breathing ceased with his last thought; why has time suddenly stopped?
Shaking vigorously in his bed, with his eyes still closed, Jamal took a long gasp of air to save himself from dying. His lungs filled up with oxygen, his arms were numb and lifeless, and his side of the bed was wet from his sweat. Opening his eyes to darkness, he knew he felt this feeling of death before. He breathed in and out quickly to start the blood flowing around his numb body, and pushed the duvet off. By now his wife was awake, holding him in her arms, she massaged his head to comfort him.
This dream was different. He was crying, he could feel so much pain in his heart and all around his chest as if a ton of bricks was placed on it. He and his wife knew exactly what the dream meant.
That night, and other nights from then on, Jamal could not sleep in peace.
Jamal's father passed away two weeks before he had this dream.
He did not send the money he promised to his father. He did not send any money for a very long time...
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