Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Electricity Bill

Why aren't you eating your pizza, Saba? Don’t you like the flavor?”

Mrs. Hameed asked her daughter who was staring at her dinner plate silently.

“No, mother. It’s fine. I am not very hungry,” said the young girl.

“What the matter dear?”

“Mother, do you know Yasmeen got punished in her school today? She has red welts on her palm where the headmistress has caned her,” Saba told her mom.

Mrs Hameed frowned. Yasmeen was Razia’s daughter who worked as a maid in their house. She was about the same age as Saba and studied in a government school.

“That’s terrible, Saba. But do you know why?”Mrs. Hameed asked.

“Razia does not have an iron in her house.  And even if she did, they can’t afford to pay the electricity bills. Yasmeen went to school and her uniform was very crumpled. The headmistress got angry and punished her severely.” Saba answered her mother’s questions forlornly.

“That’s very sad. But dear, what can we do?”
 “Mother can’t you allow Razia to iron Yasmeen’s uniform in our house when she irons ours?” Saba asked.

Mrs Hameed was rather taken aback by her daughter’s sudden request.

“My dear, you know how high electricity bills are nowadays and I am not sure what you father will say…You know he is always telling us not to waste electricity in the house,” she answered, a little hesitantly.

“But mother, Razia masi works in three houses. If everyone allows her to iron Yasmeen’s uniform, then it will be only for two days per week as 6 divided by 3 is 2. This way, it won’t be a burden on anybody and Yasmeen won’t get punished in school,” Saba pleaded with her mom while showing off her math skills.

Looking at her daughter’s earnest face, Mrs. Hameed didn’t have the heart to say no.
“Okay. I’ll tell Razia that she can iron Yasmeen’s uniform here every day. Are you happy? Now eat your dinner,” Mrs. Hameed said laughingly as Saba let out a whoop of joy.

Mrs. Hameed went to the kitchen where Razia was working and gave her the permission to iron Yasmeen’s school uniform at their home every day. Razia was extremely grateful and thanked her profusely.

Just then they heard the car come in the driveway.

 “Daddy’s home,” shouted little AbuBakr sliding out of his chair. Mr. Hameed came in with a bouquet of flowers which he handed to his wife and a big box of chocolates which he gave to his children.

“Guess what children. I have been promoted in my office. Isn't this great news?” he said, beaming at his family.

Mrs. Hameed was very happy to hear this news. Just then she saw Razia plug in the iron to do the clothes. In her heart, she was already regretting her decision. The bills will be so high. What will the children’s father say? She wondered.

“And do you know what the icing on the cake is,” Mr. Hameed said, taking a bite from his daughter’s pizza.

“Now that I have been promoted, in addition to a new car, I will be getting a monthly allowance for our utility bills too. Now I won’t get mad if you walk out of a room without switching off all the lights,” he joked.

Mrs. Hameed could not believe her ears. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Razia neatly fold her daughter’s uniform that was smooth and without any wrinkles. Saba looked at her mother with a mischievous smile and Mrs. Hameed looked back at her daughter with tears of gratitude and pride in her eyes.

She felt as if they had just been paid the electricity bill for Yasmeen’s uniform in full with added blessings for their kindness.






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