Aaliya looked out of the window. She felt strange. She thought hard but nothing seemed to excite her. “Life is so boring, she thought and went to the washroom at a snail’s pace. She reluctantly brushed her teeth and finished doing her morning chores.
“Aaliya, where are you? The school bus would arrive in five minutes time. Hurry up and have your breakfast,” her mother called her loudly. But Aaliya was not feeling good. She was almost ready for school but at the last minute she felt uninterested.
“Mom, I do not want to go to school today,” Aaliya said. “What’s the matter Aaliya? Are you unwell,” her mom gave a worried look. “No mom, but I just don’t feel like doing anything these days,” she said and went back to her room without even waiting for her mother’s reply.
Aaliya went to her bedroom, buried her head under the pillow and silently lay on the bed for the next few hours. This strange behaviour of hers continued for the next few days. Nothing seemed interesting for Aaliya. She would sit in one corner of the room and sulk for no reason.
Yasmin, her mother first thought it was a passing phase but her weird behaviour continued for many days. Finally she told her husband, Aaliya’s father, about this. “I’m not sure what’s wrong with Aaliya. She remains so gloomy. I wonder if she's sick. Should I take her to the doctor?” Let me go and talk to her,
He went to her room and asked. “What’s the matter dear? Aren’t you well? ”
“I don’t know what’s wrong, dad but nothing seems to interest me,” tears were building up behind her eyes.
“Don’t worry my child. You will soon feel better. Why don’t you go for a walk or visit your friends?” saying this her father left for work while giving a goodbye kiss to her.
That day Yasmin let Aaliya be on her own. She hadn’t gone to school that day. Ali, her brother came back from school and was as usual chirpy.
“Hey Aaliya, you missed something today. A magic show was organised for us and we had a great time.”
Aaliya disinterestedly looked at her brother and said: “I do not like magic shows. It’s such a waste of time.” “Oh Aaliya, what’s wrong with you? You used to enjoy such shows the most,” Ali said giving a confused look. Later in the evening when Ali was going out to play he called for his sister to join him.
“Come on, sleepy head. Let’s go to play.” “I am not interested.” Aaliya said and got busy in her own world. Ali waited for sometime but when Aaliya didn't respond he didn’t wait further and went alone.
The next day Yasmin got a call from her friend Jennifer. Jennifer and Yasmin were great friends and would often share their joys and problems. “Hi Yasmin, long time not heard from you. What’s the matter? Is everything fine?” Jennifer asked.
“Yeah, everything is fine. I was just busy. How about you,” she said softly. Jennifer could make out from Yasmin's tone that something was bothering her but she didn’t want to trouble her by asking more questions. To lighten up the situation she invited Yasmin to her school.
Jennifer was a teacher for children with special needs and was totally dedicated at her work. It was more of a passion for her. “We are having a painting exhibition by the children of my school and I would be happy if you come. Please bring your kids too,” Jennifer said.
“I will get Ali but not sure of Aaliya,” Yasmin said. “Why, isn’t she well?” asked Jennifer. “She is behaving strangely these days. She hardly smiles,” said Yasmin with worry. Jennifer understood what was bothering her friend and told her to somehow bring Aaliya.
“Bring her here. Don’t worry. She will be ok.” Yasmin had to literally force her daughter to accompany them. Aaliya made several excuses but Yasmin was a little stern this time than her usual self. She wanted her to get back to normal soon.
Once they were at the school Aaliya started her usual behaviour. “Where have we come mum? I want to go.” “Stop behaving funnily,” Yasmin scolded her daughter. As they walked in the corridors several children darted in and out of the rooms. They seemed no different.
In the exhibition hall specially bright, colourful paintings done by the kids were displayed. “Hey Yasmin,” Jennifer shouted with joy seeing her friend with her daughter after a long time.
Hello auntie, Aaliya greeted feebly and Jennifer gave her a big hug. Jennifer took them around and told Aaliya how the children, irrespective of their physical limitations had made the beautiful paintings. Aaliya looked at the children, some of whom were busy painting.
She wondered how difficult life must be for them but each one greeted her with a broad smile. A girl came up to her with a little rose in her hand and said: “Isn’t this lovely, would you like to smell it?”
Aaliya sniffed the flower and thought, “Life is so difficult for them yet they enjoy life and spread it through their smiles and laughter. But how ungrateful I have been. By God’s grace I have everything, yet I fail to be happy and show my gratitude.”
As they were about to leave Aaliya went up to Jennifer and said: “Auntie, thank you very much for calling me here. If I had not come here I perhaps wouldn’t have valued the blessings of life. This is actually a home of the brave and I learnt a big lesson here - to be happy always.”
For the next two hours Aaliya played with the kids there. Yasmin watched them play and heaved a sigh of relief. –[email protected]