On one hot day in Faisalabad, the sun was blazing with its full might. Everyone was in a hurry to go back home and sit in a cool airy place. Even the stray animals were looking for a shady place to sit under.

Sara’s day at school was very hectic and she was very tired. More so because she had to wait for her rickshaw driver to pick her up, because he was late. So she had to wait in her school ground. Sara didn’t want to talk to anybody. When Sara reached home, the food was ready and her mum was waiting for her.

After greeting her mum, Sara sat on the chair to eat as she was very hungry. But her hunger turned into anger when she saw that her mum had cooked daal chawal. She wanted to eat Chinese rice that day, but her mum had cooked daal chawal.

“Mum, what is this? Why don’t you cook the food I like? Aliya’s mother cooks Chinese and Italian food for her. It’s always vegetables and daal at our house. I don’t want to eat this. I am not hungry anymore. I am going to order a pizza for myself,” Sara said as she stormed off in anger to her room.

Her mother said nothing. Upstairs in her room, Sara called her best friend Aliya to have a little chat so that she could vent her frustrations and seek solace.

“Assalamoalikum, Sara beta how are you?” it was Aliya’s mother on the phone.

“Walaikumsalam Aunty, I am fine, can I talk to Aliya?” Sara replied respectfully.

“Beta, Aliya is having her lunch. Today I cooked her favourite dish,” Aliya’s mother replied excitedly.

Sara became curious. “Aunty, what’s Aliya’s favourite dish?” Sara asked curiously.

“Daal chawal, she loves it!” Aliya’s mother answered delightfully and continued, “What’s your mother cooked today?”

“Daal chawal,” Sara replied in a low voice. She recalled her conversation with Aliya about food at lunchtime in school, where she boasted about various things, one of which was about Chinese food that she frequently has at home. Sara now realised that a lot of what Aliya said to her must have been lies in an attempt to boast.

Sara realised how mistaken she was. It wasn’t just about indulging in one’s favourite food whenever desired; it was about the love, care and consistent effort put into cooking meals each day and making them special, and that too on hot days.

She also realised that her mother must be exhausted from cooking in the kitchen in such hot weather. Feeling remorseful, she went downstairs to apologise to her. But as she reached the kitchen door, she was surprised to see her mother preparing pasta for her. When Sara saw her mother bathed in sweat, tears welled up in her eyes and she hugged her tightly.

“Sorry mama. I am so sorry for my rude behaviour. I love you,” Sara apologised.

“It’s okay, my princess. More than me, rejecting food is being disrespectful towards food and Allah. I am glad you realised you were wrong. Now hurry up, wash your hands and let’s have some pasta!” mum said, hugging her.

They both had tears in their eyes — tears of love and contentment.

So, dear readers, behave respectfully with your mother. She spends hours in kitchen to cook food for you. Believe me, your mother cooks the healthiest and tastiest food and so many people around the world go hungry each day. Be thankful for all the blessing you have.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 1st, 2024

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