Sara sat on the footpath, her stomach rumbling with hunger. All she had eaten since morning was a slice of mouldy bread, and you can’t possibly call that breakfast. She could not go home (if you could call a tiny shack home) because she knew her little sister, Amna, and their sick mother was waiting for her, expecting her to bring food.
Ever since her father’s death and her mother’s severe illness, the family had been forced into poverty and Sara had found herself responsible for feeding herself as well as her little sister and mother. Right now, she was close to tears as she had found nothing to eat. People passed her, their pitiless eyes sweeping over her like a pile of rubbish.
Among them was a really posh woman who, like everybody else, ignored Sara completely. She was wearing an expensive outfit and was searching something in her handbag. In a hurry, she dropped a small beaded purse on the ground near Sara. Completely oblivious to what she had done, she walked off.
Sara carefully picked it up, and held it between her dirty hands. It was small, about the size of a fist. She quickly unzipped it, but nearly dropped it at seeing what was inside. There was money, enough to feed Sara and her family for months. Her first instinct was to run back home with it, but Sara could not bring her heart to do it. She knew she was needy, but that didn’t mean she had to steal. Making up her mind, she clutched the beaded bag in her hand and ran after the woman.
It was easy to locate the woman, for she was wearing a bright yellow dress, which was visible even from a big distance. When Sara poked her though, the woman snapped that she wasn’t going to give her any money and that she should ask somebody else. She then started murmuring something about ungrateful beggars.
Sara poked her again and when the woman turned to look at her, she held up her beaded bag. There were no words to describe the reaction of that woman. She was puzzled.
“How come you have my purse?” she exclaimed.
Sara was stung by the accusation, but nevertheless told the woman how she had dropped the purse and Sara had come to return it. The woman looked at her in a peculiar way, as if she had never met somebody so strange.
“And you didn’t keep it for yourself?” she asked gently.
“No madam, it was yours. I can’t keep it,” Sara shook her head as she explained. Then, instead of taking the purse back, the woman pushed the purse towards Sara and said she would like her to keep it. With that said, she walked off again, leaving a dumbfounded Sara behind.
Sara realised that with this honest action she had retained the leftover respect of her family and had received an amazing reward in return.
Published in Dawn, Young World, March 3rd, 2018