AS soon as Ahmed woke up in the morning, he ran to the bathroom, hurriedly washed his face (not because he was getting late for school but because he was excited about something else) and shot towards the garden of his house.
Although his mother kept calling him for breakfast, Ahmed paid no heed. She finally gave up knowing what that boy was up to and the family had breakfast without him.
Ahmed was a mischievous boy who immensely enjoyed annoying others even if it was an animal or a tiny helpless insect. His chief amusement was playing with ants in the corner of his garden every morning on holidays, and though he called it ‘playing’, he was actually poking the ants with a stick. The poor little creatures ran about here and there, bumping into one another and falling and tumbling over. Ahmed would continue this game until almost half of the poor ants’ population were dead and left many of their families homeless and children orphaned.
His granny and mother had forbidden him a thousand times to play this horrendous game and given him all sorts of punishment, but Ahmed turned a deaf ear to them.
Today too, Ahmed had planned to murder many more ants. He went to the corner of his garden where the ants dwelled. They had just woken up from their sleep and were marching in a line for a morning walk.
“Good morning, my friends,” said Ahmed in his cheeky tone. “Are you ready to play?”
The ants seemed to pay no attention to their enemy and kept on marching.
“Oh! I forgot to bring my stick,” said Ahmed, “Just wait and I’ll be back in a second, and then we’ll begin the game.” Saying this, he made a bolt for the fig tree behind which he had hid his stick, just in case granny or mother saw it and broke it into pieces.
With the stick grasped in his hands, he ran back to his favourite spot and announced to the ants, “I’m back. Let the game begin!” And he began the game by poking an ant that was in the middle of the line. Suddenly, there was chaos. Ants started running here and there for their lives, bumping into one another, falling and injuring themselves.
“Ha ha! I’ll crush you!” said Ahmed poking a helpless ant with his stick. Having crushed it, he spotted another ant running into another direction. “So you think you can escape, eh?” he said, “Goodbye!” And the poor creature was dead.
Now, he glimpsed another ant that, unlike the others, was standing still, face to face with Ahmed as if it was protesting. In no less than a second, the army joined it and transformed into a large group of ants that stood face to face with the intruder, bravely protesting.
“Ha-ha!” laughed Ahmed impishly, “So you think you can stop me, huh? I’ll crush all of you!” He drew his stick nearer to the protestors, but the next moment the scene changed. The tiny ants started to become bigger and bigger. Ahmed rubbed his eyes in disbelief. Bigger and bigger the ants became until they were enormous giants and Ahmed looked like an ant in front of them!
What a frightful sight it was and how horrified Ahmed was! Blood seemed to have left his face. He wanted to scream but he had lost his voice. He wanted to run but his feet seemed to be stuck to the ground. He just stood there trembling and horror-stricken.
At last his voice returned and he screamed, “Help! Help!”
“So you think you can escape, eh?” the giants thundered, “We’ll crush you!” And they stepped closer to Ahmed.
“Help! Help!” Ahmed screamed louder than ever. In an instant his mother came running and found Ahmed trembling all over, staring wildly in the air. “What are you up to now, Ahmed?” she asked with a frown.
“Help! Th… the ants are giants! They’ll crush me!” he stammered still trembling.
His mother saw nothing but tiny ants on the ground. She understood everything and wanted to burst out laughing but she didn’t want the show to end this way so she pretended to be astonished and said, “Oh God! Of course, the ants are giants! Run away Ahmed before they really crush you!”
And Ahmed ran away like a wild dog barking madly, “Help! Help! They’ll crush me!” He bumped into his granny who, quite bewildered was coming to inquire what the matter was. “What is it, Ahmed?” she asked him.
“Th… The ants are giants! They’ll crush me!” he stammered.
At that moment his mother came and winked at granny, who now understood everything. They decided to end this show by teaching Ahmed a lesson which would put his mischief to an end.
“Well Ahmed,” said his mother, “when I was a girl of your age, I used to ‘play’ with ants and poke them with a stick just like you do. And one day, they turned into giants and were almost about to crush me when your granny came to the rescue.”
“I made a bargain with the giants,” said granny with a grin, “and they promised not to crush your mother unless she poked them.” Ahmed listened with his eyes wide with fright.
“So go back to the giants,” said his mother quite enjoying this, “and say you’re sorry.”
But the horror-struck Ahmed ran away, madly screaming, “Help! Help!”
And this way he learnt his lesson and never dared to trouble the helpless creatures.