Monday, March 30, 2015

True Happiness comes from Helping Others

Amir woke up feeling very happy. It had been his birthday a few days ago and his friends and family had given him many presents. Best of all, his grandfather had given him five thousand rupees.

His father had promised him that he could do whatever he wished with his money and Amir knew what he wanted – a complete cricket kit with gloves, pads, bat, helmet and, of course, a shiny red ball. With this kit, he knew, he would be the envy of all the boys in the neighborhood.

Cricket was Amir’s passion. He wanted to play for his country when he was older. His room was adorned with posters of cricketing giants like Imran Khan, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and his favorite Shahid Khan Afridi. He wanted to emulate these stars when he grew up and right now a good cricket kit would help him further his ambitions.

Every night he would lie in his bed and dream about playing cricket. What runs he would score with his new bat! Fours and sixes, half centuries and maybe hundreds. The shiny red ball would race towards the boundary and he would raise his bat to acknowledge the applause of his teammates and the crowds..what dreams!

Amir belonged to a well-to-do family. He was the only son but he was not a spoiled child. Early in the morning, right after breakfast, he asked for his father’s permission to use the car. His father promised that he would send the car back with the driver after he had reached his office. Amir got ready and went out in the garden to wait for the car to arrive.

It was a beautiful day. The sun cast a golden light and the air was perfumed with the scent of the blooming flowers. Amir walked slowly towards the garden, inhaling the smell of freshly mowed grass. His eyes fell on Tariq who was working in the garden.

Tariq was the son of their gardener, Ali Akbar. He was usually relegated the job of a fielder whenever Amir played cricket with his friends. Ali Akbar had been unwell for some time and had not been coming to do his chores. Amir had heard his mother complain about Ali Akbar’s frequent absences to his father. Amir noticed that Tariq’s face was tear-stained as he silently weeded the grass.

He went up to him and put his hand on Tariq’s shoulder. “What is the matter, Tariq?”

“Baba is very ill, Amir,” he replied, his voice tremulous. “He urgently needs to be in hospital. But he was discharged today without proper treatment because we had no money to pay for the medical bills.”

Tariq further told Amir that no one was ready to help them as they had already borrowed a lot of money. Tariq had left his school to fulfill his father’s duties but the future looked very bleak for their family. Tariq feared for his father’s life.

Amir listened silently. He and Tariq were of the same age but how different were their circumstances. He looked at the wallet containing all his savings.

“This money could save someone’s life”, he thought.

“But you wanted to buy that kit,” a small voice said inside his head. “You have been saving for quite a long time and now with your grandfather’s gift, you can buy it now. If you give away the money you won’t be able to buy that kit,” the voice persisted.

Amir felt torn. But with another look at Tariq’s tear-stained face, his mind was made up. Without a word, he handed his wallet to Tariq. Tariq was taken aback but then, slowly and silently, he raised his hand to accept it. Amir went back inside and spent the rest of his day in his room. He was a little sad and disappointed but he knew that he had done the right thing.

A few days later, when Amir was going outside to play, he saw Tariq in the garden. Before he could say a word, Tariq ran towards him.

“Your money saved my father’s life, Amir!” he shouted with tears rolling down his brown cheeks. “We took him to the hospital and the doctor said we were just in time. He is fine now. I can never thank you enough,” he said. “You saved my father’s life, Amir”, Tariq kept on repeating.

Suddenly, Amir felt that he had just hit the biggest six of his life, a more powerful sixer than any hit by Shahid Khan Afridi. He felt the shiny red ball soar high up in the sky and sail towards the boundary. In his mind he saw the people in the stadium rise to applaud and acknowledge his selflessness and sacrifice.

He hugged Tariq and, with arms around his shoulder, he went out to play cricket with his battered bat and the old taped ball.

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