Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sara's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sarah was sitting in front of the television, filling bright colors in her coloring book. It was Sunday and Mummy was baking cookies in the kitchen. Chocolate chip cookies were Sarah’s favorite. Her two brothers were playing a rather noisy game of Monopoly in their room. Daddy was sitting in the recliner, going through the morning newspaper. The delicious, mouth watering aroma of warm cookies filled the room and made Sarah’s tummy grumble.

Sarah looked up from her coloring book and saw a rather disturbing image at the back of the newspaper. She saw a woman, holding a naked brown baby in her arms. The baby’s head lolled in his mother’s lap and his eyes were closed. It did not look anything like the fat, chubby baby that was in Sarah’s picture dictionary.

A young boy of about Sarah’s age stood nearby as if to seek comfort from his mother’s presence. They both looked malnourished. “Why is this woman crying, Daddy?” asked Sarah. Her father looked up from his paper and replied, “There has been a flood in their area and this woman and many others have lost all their belongings.”

“What is a flood, daddy?” was Sarah’s next question.

“A flood is something which happens when there has been a lot of rain and water does not flow away but enters the area where people live. It can cause great destruction as it has done here,” Daddy replied gesturing towards the picture. “ These people have to live on rooftops as water enters their homes. Some even seek shelters on trees to escape water. They have no food or clean water. Poor people,” Daddy sighed as he flicked open his newspaper again.

Sarah looked at the picture again. How hungry the boy looked and how sick did the baby seem.  “Why don’t they have anything to eat?” asked Sarah, thinking about all the delicious things in their fridge. “Don’t they have a kitchen?”

“Sarah, when floods occur, all things get damaged. There is no gas for stoves, food supplies get wet and spoiled,” Daddy replied a little exasperatedly. “Now go and help your mother in the kitchen.”

Next day, Sarah was very pre-occupied in school. During recess, she quietly sat on a swing and was not her usual cheerful self. She was not even eating the chocolate chip cookies that her mother had baked especially for her. Ms Riffat who was supervising recess, went up to her and asked “What is it Sarah? Aren’t you feeling well?” Sarah looked up at her favorite teacher. It was Ms. Riffat who taught her class the names of the five prayers, the kalmas and told stories about Hazrat Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

“Ms Riffat, do you know that there are people who have nothing to eat because water has made everything wet in their homes?”  “Yes, Sarah. I know about the flood but the government is doing everything it can to help these unfortunate people.”


Sarah had heard about the government although she did not know what it meant. She had heard grown ups around her talk about government in a rather exasperated and sometimes in an irritated sort of a way. Her father always said “the government better do something about it” when the trash can at the corner of their street was over filled and whenever their car bumped over potholes in the road and even when Cousin Ayesha told them about her stolen mobile phone.

It seemed to her that the “government” did not always manage to do all that was required of it. What if it did not have enough food for the flood affected people? “I wish I could give my cookies to that hungry little boy,” Sarah said a little wistfully, looking at the uneaten cookies in her lunch box.

Ms. Riffat looked down at her young pupil. On an impulse, she took Sarah’s hand and went to the principal’s office. In there she related her conversation with Sarah to Mrs. Shafqat. “Can we do something?” she asked. Mrs. Shafqat. The principal called an urgent meeting of the staff.

While the students enjoyed an unprecedented two hour long recess, the teachers came up with ideas for collecting food, medicines, money and clothing for the calamity hit people. After the recess, all students were informed of the situation and asked to contribute to this noble cause. The students themselves were very enthusiastic and hence a charity week was launched.


When the boys’ branch got wind of this, they too launched a campaign of their own. Besides being a matter of humanitarian crisis, it was also a matter of their pride. The senior boys divided themselves into groups and each group, accompanied by a teacher, went to the neighboring houses and shops and collected donations. Non perishable food items, milk, clothing, blankets, tents and sheets were on the students demand list.

Parents were exhorted to donate freely while the teachers contributed 15 days worth of salary. Banners were displayed on school perimeters and passersby deposited contributions, alms and zakat. Even the fat old beggar, who usually dozed under a tree and sprang into action when the school broke up, sheepishly gave Rs. 100 to Sir Ansaar. A whirlwind of activities ensued and a hefty sum was soon collected. Medicines needed to treat diarrhea, gastroenteritis, typhoid and other water borne diseases were bought. The teachers and students sorted out all the stuff and made neat packages for easy distribution.

Mrs. Shafqat was able to contact the army commander in charge of relief activities in the flood affected area and apprised him of their school’s efforts. It was decided that the senior staff with a few volunteers would take all the donations to the army camp. An owner of a transportation company was contacted who offered free transportation of the goods.

A few days later, Mrs. Shafqat received a letter of commendation from the army commander and photographs of flood affectees receiving aid from her staff members. One photograph especially caught her eye. Next day, she invited Sarah and her parents to her office.

She praised Sarah’s generous spirit but for Sarah the best award was the picture Mrs. Shafqat handed to her. “Look Sarah,” she said, pointing towards the picture of a boy munching cookies with a carton of milk in his hand. “You were able to share your cookies with that hungry little boy after all.”












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