“Can you keep this box safely for me and could you please bring it back tomorrow?” Adnan asked Sameer, after school.

“Yes, certainly I will. But what’s in it?” asked Sameer.

“It is a gift for my younger brother’s birthday, and I want it kept safe somewhere until his birthday,” replied Adnan.

Adnan and Sameer then departed for their homes. All day long, Sameer thought about this beautifully wrapped gift. Sameer was curious to know what Adnan was giving to his younger brother that was so neatly wrapped and given to him for safekeeping. He decided to open it.

“I just want to see what is in it, and then I will wrap it again and return it to Adnan without him ever knowing that I opened it,” he thought.

He started pulling off the scotch tape, when his mum entered the room, and asked, “What are you doing?”

Before Sameer could reply, she looked at the gift in Sameer’s hand and inquired, “This is a beautiful gift. Who gave it to you?”

“It’s not mine. Adnan has given it to me for safekeeping. I will return it to him tomorrow,” replied Sameer.

“Then why is it in your hand,” questioned his mum.

Unable to answer his mum’s question, Sameer remained silent.

Understanding the situation at hand, his mother asked, “Were you trying to open it so that you can see what’s inside the wrapping paper?”

Sameer’s face flushed as he was caught red-handed.

Knowing what her son was about to do, she explained, “Son, this is wrong.”

“But, mum I would have just taken a look at it and would have packed it back again. And Adnan would have never known about it,” protested Sameer.

“Son, safekeeping is a huge responsibility. It means entrusting someone with something that you know the entrusted person will take care of for you. Adnan trusted you and chose you among all his friends for safekeeping. That says a lot, so you should not break his trust by opening it. Would you like it if your friends never trusted you with anything again?” asked his mum.

The thought of having friends who didn’t trust him terrified Sameer, “No mum, I don’t want that ever,” he said.

“Then son, put it where it is safe, and return it to your friend without opening it,” advised his mum.

“Sorry mum, what I was about to do was wrong. Now, I understand that when someone trusts you about something, you should not break the trust in any way,” said Sameer.

“Good, I understand that you just wanted to look at it, but if you would have opened it, it means that you would have broken Adnan’s trust and the sole purpose of safekeeping.”

Sameer put the gift in his bag and returned it to Adnan after a few days when Adnan asked for it. Adnan thanked him and was happy to admit that his trust in Sameer was right. Sameer was ashamed to realise the mistake he was about to make had his mother not stopped him.

Published in Dawn, Young World, January 11th, 2020