Laying down the book I looked up at Tessniem. "OK, so what are we going to do this Ramadan?" Her cheerful face lit up. "Paint the windows." Looking at my pretty white sheers I forced my head to nod. "OK, what else do we do during Ramadan?" Omar jumped off the couch… "Not eat, ah, I mean fast." "That’s right, we fast for a whole month," said Tessniem, gently wrapping her arms around her chest and hugging her self. "I love Ramadan, it’s fun." Omar said, "Yea, it’s great, we get to choose whatever we want to break our fast with."
I could tell by his eyes that he was remembering steaming corn dogs out of the oven dipped in ketchup with a glass of chocolate milk. "And what makes that food taste so especially good?" I asked sitting upon the couch. Omar raised his hand high into the air like he was in class. "I know, I know," he screamed." Omar you can put your hand down, we aren’t in class now." Omar lowered his arm and smiled "because we are doing it for Allah and when we eat we remember Allah."
Tessniem jumped in, "and the poor people who don’t have any food like the ones in Somailia and Ba…" Omar turned to her, "you mean Bosnia." Tessniem looked up at Omar "yea Bas, that place Omar said." Omar’s head lowered and his mouth’s edges dipped down. Taking his hand. "What’s wrong Omar?" "I just remembered the stories about the Bosnians eating grass because there was nothing to eat during the war." Breathing deep, "yea, there is a lot to be thankful for." Tessniem walked up to me with her shoulder raised close to her ears. "Remember that picture of the Somali baby on the ground and the vulture waiting for him to die?" I did not even have to think back, the picture is forever seared in my memory.
Placing my arms around Tessniem, I brought her close to me on the couch. Omar scooted over to me and hugged my other arm. Looking at the floor, he leaned his cheek against my arm. "Mama?" he whispered. I made a soft hmm to let him know I was listening. "Can we send them some money so they can buy food?" Sitting up I smiled, "Yes, every year we give them Zakat."
Rubbing his eyes I could see his wheels spinning in his brain, got up and ran to his bedroom. I thought for a minute he was going off to cry. I could hear the closet door open and the sound of jingling down the hallway. He quickly turned the corner and stopped abruptly in front of me holding out a plastic spice container filled with paper riyals and change. With his face solemn he moved it closer to me so I could take it from him. "Omar, what do you want me to do with it?" With puzzled expression he looked at me like I was seriously confused. "Mom… It’s for the poor people, who don’t have any food."
Taking the plastic container, I started slowly unscrewing the red lid. "And how much do you want to give to them?" Omar scrunched up his face and held out his right hand upward as if to say ‘you still don’t get it?’ He sighed heavily and took the container and dumped it onto my lap. "All of it Mom!" I thought I should get into the concept of percentages for Zakat, but it just didn’t seem appropriate.
Looking down on my lap, I knew he had been saving his money for a Spiderman at Wonder World. I was getting ready to tell him about the reward from Allah when Tessniem appeared in the living room with her spice container bank. Smiling she untwisted the red lid and dumped the money on my lap too. Too touched for words, I hugged them. Looking at the money, Tessniem laid her hand on her cheek thinking. Softly she whispered, "maybe it will buy enough food for that little boy so he can get up and the vulture won’t eat him."
Of course the most logical thing to tell her is that the picture was taken over two years ago and most probably the child never got up and was never buried. But only Allah knows what happened, and this little girl needed to know that by the mercy she receives from Allah there was still hope.