It’s Sunday, our week has kick started and Sid has just returned from school. I notice he is looking paler than usual. He drops his bag and quickly downs a whole bottle of water. It must be the heat, I reckon. He gingerly hands me his lunch box and dashes off into his room before I notice that the box has returned untouched. I feel the first hint of irritation seeping its way into my system as I mentally rerun the lecture that he has to now endure about food wastage, its implications on the environment, the people who are not fortunate enough to manage to get a square meal and could possibly benefit from this one wasted meal and the fact that inside the box are his favorite sausage rolls that his mother has made in the early hours of the morning skipping about an hour of her beauty sleep.
He then walks out of his room, changed and ready for lunch, a disarming smile pasted on his face as he pretends not to notice the look of disapproval etched on my face. Little princess is fast asleep so I can give him a piece of my mind without having to hear her repeat every word after me making the situation seem more like a joke than a serious discussion.
“So what is the excuse today?” I question, my tone hinting a warning of the impending lecture.
“Can we please discuss this over lunch Ma, I am really hungry,” he replies politely as I struggle to maintain my demeanor without having his sweetness dilute the situation.
I quietly sit down with him for lunch and I watch him gobble up his food a little too fast and unmannerly to my liking.
“Ma, I had to take my partner to the Medical and when I got back snack time was almost over. I was very hungry and so looked forward to quickly munching on my favorite sausage rolls,” he pauses as I listen to a story that had been told several times in the past, “it’s then that I notice that my friend who is fasting is back after his prayers. He usually leaves for prayers and only after he leaves do we begin eating or drinking. Ma’am says it is very rude, almost disrespectful for us to eat or drink when one of our friends is fasting,” I listen with renewed interest at the twist in his usual excuse of a story.
“Since it was still snack time, I could have eaten but I decided against it. Would it not be rude to munch on my favorite sausage rolls when he does not even drink a drop of water all day? It is the least I could do,” he continues nonchalantly, “I will have them for tea, though, I love them too much to see it go all wasted and of course I know the damage that wasted food can do and the people who can benefit from it and all the rest of it.”
I stare dumbfounded, my irritation magically replaced with admiration for his feelings.
In a fast-paced world where our selfish interests take precedence to the feelings of even our near and dear, it is good to know that children like him take the advice of their teacher seriously and respects the religious sentiments of the country that he lives in. We have discussed more than once the reasons why those of us who do not fast refrain from eating in public and indulge in the spirit of Ramadan by engaging in charity and goodwill, yet this selfless act is one that I would happily give credit to his teacher and the school that educates and lets them ponder on the importance of goodwill and compassion.
He has gone a few hours without food but his selfless act brings back hope that all our efforts to raise children, who are not only efficient to make a successful career but base their every success to the values they have been taught, have not gone in vain.
In the words of Dalai Lama, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”