Saad was starving. There was nothing to eat in the kitchen. Saad’s mother was at work and would not be back for an hour or so. His dad had gone for a lunch party. He was left with his elder sister Hania who would not share her crackers or chips with him.
Hania was doing her homework while Saad had completed his. While resting in his room Saad impishly thought to sneak the chips and crackers and say that he didn’t know about them if asked. So, he carefully slipped into Hania’s room where she was busy with her homework while wearing headphones so she could not hear anything. He tiptoed to her bed and picked up her chips and crackers.
Despite remembering what his mum taught him that “When you take someone else’s things without asking, it is called stealing and lots of grownups have been sent to jail because of it,” Saad started munching happily while watching cartoons.
Hania wanted a few chips so she turned to her bed to get some. To her surprise, the chips and the crackers had disappeared. She suspected Saad because he was the only one bugging her for food. Luckily, Saad heard her footsteps and hid them under the couch. He swiftly wiped his mouth and licked his cheesy fingers, and sat casually as if he hadn’t moved an inch for the past hour.
Hania approached him and asked in an annoyed tone, “Do you have my chips and crackers? Please give them to me if you are hiding them!”
Saad replied softly, “Chips? Crackers? I don’t even know what are you talking about? How can I enter your room like that?”
Hania walked away and Saad heard her open another packet of chips and crackers. This time she put the packets on her desk. An hour passed and the doorbell rang. Saad jumped happily since he wanted a cookie packet that was in his mother’s locked snack cupboard.
He screamed when Hania opened the door and his mum entered, “Mum! You’re back I wanted to ask you something.”
His mum replied, “If it is something to do with my snack cupboard then no, it is almost dinner time and I have brought cheese pizza, which is very filling and if you eat cookies you won’t eat the pizza.”
Saad sighed and thought, ‘Wait till she goes into the kitchen and Hania to her room, then I can steal the keys and get it.”
Mum gave the bag which had the keys to Hania and she took it to her room. Mum went into the kitchen and started to prepare dinner. Saad crept to his mum’s room and carefully got his hands on the keys. He quietly twisted the key in the hole and opened the cupboard. He quickly took a packet of his favourite biscuits and carefully closed the cupboard. Then he put the keys where they were and tiptoed out of the room and ran into his room.
He swiftly ate the biscuits and washed his crumb filled mouth and also rinsed the inside. Just then he heard mum call out, “Saad! Hania! Food is ready, come and eat.”
Saad washed his hands and so did Hania. Hania went to the table and took a slice and started eating it. Saad took three slices, took huge bites and held the pizza with his hands. Mum also took a slice and kept the remaining two slices for Dad.
Later, when it was two hours past Saad’s bedtime, he heard Dad saying, “Sheila, (Saad’s mum) I am not that hungry since I ate delicious biryani in lunch and it was quite filling.”
Saad’s mum replied, “It’s okay if you don’t want to eat, I will give them to Hania for lunch tomorrow.”
Saad was sad that he would not get the pizza slices and would probably get cucumbers. So, when his mother and father went to sleep, he crept and quietly opened the fridge door, took the pizza out and crept back to his room.
Of course, he had closed the fridge door. He went into his bathroom and closed the door. He gobbled the pizza and went to sleep.
In the morning, when mum was packing lunch for school she called, “Saad! Hania! Who ate the pizza?”
Saad had a pale face but tried to look innocent and said, “What! Me? No, I did not eat it.”
Mum knew Saad ate it because she was his mother and she knew Hania would not do such a thing. She said, “Saad, please stop hiding your pale face, I know you did it.”
Saad replied regretfully, “Yes mum, I was hungry and you would not let me eat anything as I had already had dinner.”
One day Saad was at school and his friend Haroon showed him his video game which Saad longed to have. When Saad went home, he asked his mother, “Mum, there is this new video game I really like, so please can I buy it?”
Mum just replied plainly, “Saad, do you think after so much stealing that you have done you should get a reward? I have already explained to you that you shouldn’t take things without asking. It is called stealing.”
Saad was very unhappy because he was desperate to get it.
Again a wicked thought crossed his mind, ‘Haroon’s house is right behind our lane….’ I think we all know what he was thinking about.
Saad smiled and thought, ‘I am glad that I am a very good climber.’ Saad did not know that Haroon’s parents, Yasmeen aunty and Sakib uncle had thrown a party that night and had invited Saad’s parents too.
It was around 10 pm, way past Saad’s bedtime. Hania was a sensible and obedient girl and was sleeping peacefully in her room. Saad quietly opened the front door and disappeared into the darkness of the night.
He climbed up the gate in such a quiet manner that even the guard did not notice. Saad was having the time of his life.
He walked casually towards Haroon’s house. Saad saw that there was a dinner party at their house and felt delighted when he smelt the aroma of delicious food, because he knew that the guests would be too busy eating food to see him.
Saad climbed up and jumped down the gate of the house. Haroon was also awake and helping his parents. Saad was happy that his work would not be that hard since Haroon’s room would be empty. Saad remembered the Haroon’s bathroom window was always open and he quickly climbed into the bathroom.
He opened the door to the bedroom a little bit to peek in. He saw a small figure sleeping and realised it was Haroon’s little sister Zainab. Making sure Zainab would not hear him, Saad quietly entered. He saw the video game and headed for it, but then he stepped on one of Zainab’s squeaky toys and it squeaked and Zainab woke up crying and screaming. She saw a figure and she howled even more.
Haroon’s parents came rushing in and turned on the lights. Yasmeen aunty scooped Zainab to comfort her and Sakib uncle scanned the room to see what caused Zainab to wake up.
He saw Saad’s shadow and said, “Whoever you are come out, we know you are a thief, you have been caught so reveal yourself.” Saad stood up with a pale face his hands were cold and clammy, trembling with fear.
Upon looking at him Sakib uncle exclaimed, “Saad! How could you sneak into our house like this? I thought you were one of Haroon’s friends. What have you come here for?”
The moment Saad’s parents heard the name “Saad” they came rushing.
Saad’s dad, Yaqoob uncle, exclaimed, “Saad? How can you be here?”
To Saad’s horror, he saw Haroon walking in to see what was going on. Haroon was surprised and asked, “Saad, what are you doing here? Do you need to ask your parents something?”
Saad replied to all the embarrassed and annoyed faces, “I wanted that video game. Mother did not allow me, so, I thought of taking it.”
Yasmeen aunty asked Saad, “Saad hasn’t your mother taught you what taking things without permission is called?” She then questioned Saad’s mum, “Sheila, haven’t you taught Saad the difference between borrowing and stealing?
Saad’s mum replied, “Yes, I have taught him but Saad doesn’t listen.”
Haroon exclaimed, “Saad, you should always listen to your parents!”
Saad’s dad glared at Saad and shot, “Look, your friend is advising you what to do. Let’s go home.”
Saad went home and his parents were very annoyed with him. Meanwhile, Hania was bewildered when she saw Saad awake. When she heard the story she exclaimed, “Stealing also makes you a liar and lying is a very bad habit. I know you take my snacks and when I ask, you lie to me.”
Saad had learned his lesson and he apologised to the Haroon family. Now Saad obeys his parents and never steals or tells a lie.
Published in Dawn, Young World, November 10th, 2018