A small board was hanging from the top of the fruit stand which said “My mother is elderly and a paralytic and there is no one else to take care of her at home. She needs frequent feeding and frequent trips to the toilet. If you are in a hurry, please pick whatever fruit you like and put the money under the pad in the corner. The rates are also written nearby. If you don’t have the money then please take the fruit anyway, I won’t mind. And Allah is the best Sustainer.”
I weighed 2 kilograms of apples, grabbed a dozen bananas put them in a shopping bag. After checking the rate list, I took out the money, lifted the corner pad and placed it there, amidst many other notes of various denominations. I looked around to see if anyone was watching me then I picked up my purchase and came back to my flat.
After iftar, my brother and I went back to that stall and found the owner packing it up, about to leave. He was a middle aged man, the whites in his beard peeking out from among the black, wearing a cream colored shalwar kameez. He smiled at us as he said “No more fruit left, sir.” We asked his name. He said, “Khadim Hussain”. A few minutes later, we were having tea at a nearby shop.
He told us, “My mother has been bed-ridden for the past three years. She has developed some mental issues recently and now has been paralyzed as well. I have no children, my wife has passed away and there is no one to look after my mother so I have to do it all the time. One day I told her as I was massaging her feet, ‘Mother, I want to take care of you more than anything but my pockets are empty and you don’t want me leaving your side. You say you feel extremely anxious and worried when I go away. Tell me what I should do then. Where will we get food from? I am not a citizen of Bani Israel and you are not the mother of Musa (AS). What should I do?’
“My mother tried to sit up with difficulty so I adjusted her pillow for her and had her rest against it. She raised her wrinkled face and trembling hands in supplication and I don’t know what she asked Allah. Then she told me ‘Just leave your stall at the roadside. You will get your food while sitting in this room.’
“I said, ‘Mother, what are you talking about? If I leave the stall there, somebody will come and steal everything on it. No one cares about other people these days. Who will actually pay for the fruit when the shopkeeper isn’t there?’
“She said, ‘Don’t argue with me. At fajr, fill your stall with fruit, leave it at the roadside and come back to me. And in the evening bring back the empty stall. If you lose any money, then this Khalida Surayya will obtain every single rupee from Allah.’
“Brother, it has been two and a half years since then. I take the stall in the morning and bring back the empty stall in the evening. I have not lost a single rupee, instead people often pay more than is due. I usually make about 300-400 rupees more than I would according to the rates. Some people also leave flowers for my mother. A few days ago a girl left a dish of pulao with a card saying ‘for mother’. A doctor left his business card that had a note on the back saying ‘Uncle, if your mother is not feeling well, call me and I will pick her up from her house.’ A pilgrim visited my stall and left a packet of Ajwa dates. A couple came to buy fruit and left a suit for my mother. Every day things like these are given to me along with my money. My mother doesn’t let me leave and Allah doesn’t let the blessings stop. Not only is Allah the best Sustainer, He is also the best Retailer.”
In the end, I would like to tell all children that if you are free and see your parents doing some work, always offer to help them. Tell them “Mother/Father, here let me help you with that.” Then just watch how success follows you everywhere in this world and the next.