The Lesson

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Written by: Rais Muhammad Umar

The landlord, Haji Shah Ali Khan built a splendid swimming pool in his magnificent farmhouse. His bungalow on the farmhouse was surrounded by a mango orchard which covered hundreds of acres. The swimming pool was very big and had different levels of water so that everyone could enjoy a bath in it. The swimmers and non-swimmers, adults and minors could take advantage of it. A tube well supplied water all the day to the swimming pool. From one side the tube well water came in and from the other side it drained out into a cemented water course which irrigated the mango orchard and other crops. Thus the fresh and cool water of the swimming pool fascinated all and sundry in the scorching heat. Along with the swimming pool, the farmhouse had different slides and swings for entertainment. It was like a park in big cities. The farmhouse became famous far and wide. School teachers took their students to the farmhouse for picnics. Madrasah Asatizah brought their pupils to the farmhouse too.
Everyone had to take permission in advance to visit the farmhouse. Sir Shafqat's students (my father's students, actually) also wanted to visit the farmhouse. They had been requesting Sir to take them for a long time but he was ignoring their requests because he was too busy. He just couldn’t take out time for entertainment. Then the landlord, Haji Shah Ali Khan's grandson joined us at our tuition centre. He told the other students about his farmhouse, about the swimming pool, the slides and the swings. Now the other students' wish to visit the farmhouse intensified. They again besought Sir to take them to the farmhouse for a visit. He got a little bit ready and said, "O. K. children, I shall take you there for picnic one of these days." All the children shouted happily, "Hurrah!" The next day, Haji sahib's grand son told Sir and all the children, "Grandpa and abbu have given their permission. You can take the students to the farmhouse whenever you want." All the students entreated Sir to take them to the farmhouse on the coming Sunday. I also wanted to visit the farmhouse so I added my pleas to those of the students. At last Sir agreed saying, "Ok children, we shall go on the coming Sunday. But you all know that the farmhouse is in Pak Singhaar, an area near Tando Allahyar which is about 40 kilometers away from here so we shall have to hire a van to reach there. Each one of you will have to bring Rs. 150 and give it to Owais. As we shall be there the whole day we shall need food, bottles and tea for refreshment and we will arrange these things with the collected money." All the students readily agreed to do so. In this way the tour of Pak Singhaar, the farmhouse, the swimming pool was arranged.
On Sunday morning I put on my newly-stitched blue suit, applied antimony in my eyes, oiled and combed my hair. As I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself, a feeling of arrogance entered my heart. I was looking so handsome! In my pride I forgot to recite the du’a of wearing new clothes. As I was getting in the van I saw that all the boys had brought an extra pair of clothes in a polythene bag to put on after swimming to their heart’s content. They reminded me to take another pair of clothes too so I ran back inside. My mother was standing there with my clothes in her hand. She gave them to me saying, "When will you ever learn? Your habit of forgetting things is getting worse day by day!” I took the clothes and ran back to the van. As soon as I got in, the van set off for our destination.
All the boys must have recited the du’a of travelling but I forgot to recite it. In the van, all the boys started chatting about the swimming pool. They were all very excited to see the farmhouse. Some boys recited naats in the van which was moving fast towards its destination. After about an hour, the van driver told us that the farmhouse had come. I was really surprised when I saw it as it was more splendid than I had thought. All the boys got out of the van and headed towards the mango orchard which was so big that after about half an hour many of the boys got tired. They requested my father to take them to the swimming pool. The tube well was running and the fresh cool and clean water fascinated all of us. We gave our mobiles and cash to Sir for safety and Sir once again instructed us to bathe in the swimming pool in a disciplined manner. He instructed those who did not know how to swim not to go in at the deeper end. All the boys started changing their clothes which they had brought for bathing in the swimming pool but I did not change. I intended to bathe in the newly stitched clothes which I was wearing. Seeing me ready to dive in the swimming pool, one of the boys tried to stop me but instead of acting upon his sincere advice, I made fun of him. I arrogantly said, "You don't have such nice clothes so you are jealous." My words seemed to hurt him and he must have been regretting his advice. His set face and the pained expression on it gave me a queer pleasure. I did not care even a little bit and dived into the swimming pool in my new clothes. All the boys were enjoying themselves. Two slides had been installed in the swimming pool and some of them were really having fun. Time passed very swiftly and soon it was one o' clock. Sir ordered us to leave the swimming pool, change our clothes and have lunch. We changed and then had biryani and soft drinks which we had brought with us. After the meal Sir took us to a nearby mosque for zuhr salaah. We offered salaah in the mosque with the congregation and then came back to the farmhouse. After some rest we enjoyed the swings and the see-saw.
As evening fell Sir said, "Boys, get ready, we are going back. We shall offer Asr salaah in the neighbouring mosque. Pack your clothes and other things carefully." All the boys took their clothes and other things and got into the van. Our visit was the subject of discussion in the van. Qaiser Khan said, "The farmhouse was really superb." Muhammad said, "I liked the swimming pool best." Wali Muhammad said, "I enjoyed the swings the most." Ali Hasan commented, "I liked the swings. They were awesome." Faisal said, "The slides were really good." Abdul Haseeb said, "How big and beautiful the mango trees were!" "I climbed one of them," Zohaib boasted. The van was moving fast. It had covered more than half the distance when Owais suddenly asked me, "All of us have our shoppers of clothes but I don’t see yours. Where is it?" "Oh, my God! I forgot to take it. I forgot it at the farmhouse. And they were my new clothes!" I was near to tears but what could be done now? We were at the end of our journey.
When I entered my home empty-handed, first my elder sister asked me, "Where are your clothes?" "I forgot them at the farmhouse," I replied. My mother was stunned. "Son, you have to learn to be careful," she said at last. "Today, you have forgotten your clothes. Tomorrow you may forget something precious." I felt ashamed of myself.
At night, the picture of the whole day ran on my mind’s screen. I remembered that I had not recited the du’a of wearing new clothes. Instead of reciting it, I had felt so proud of myself. And then I had hurt one of the students with my arrogant attitude. I had told him he was jealous of my new clothes. No wonder they had been taken away from me! The last thing I did before falling asleep was to ask Allah ta’ala sincerely to forgive me.