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Selma Cook

This is the true story of two brothers who are separate in age and level of communication. It tells how events occur to bring them together in a most unexpected way.

 

Hafsa had told her eleven year old son Zaki, to stay with his little brother in the car, as he was still asleep.
"I won't be long," she had said happily as she tossed some money into his lap, so they could buy an ice cream when the little one woke up. She had to see a friend for about half an hour and if she didn't have to take the boys with her, it would be half an hour of peace.

What a forlorn face could be seen in the front seat. She had parked under a beautiful sprawling tree that dangled its lingering branches over the top of the car, protecting it and what it contained from the harsh rays of the run. Zaki stared in front of him; his face slightly inclined on the left side into what resembled a snarl. His little brother was the pain of his life. Oh he loved him dearly but that boy was surely a trial.

Zaki had always wanted a little brother. Someone who would look up to him and need him. He wanted to have a little brother whom he could carry around on his shoulders and play armies with. Instead he got two sisters and Sami.

From the moment he was born, Sami screamed. It wasn't the heart wrenching cry of a babe, but as one friend put it, "A scream that could break glass!" As Sami grew, his scream grew along with him. Zaki tried to be his friend but even if Zaki sat next to him or tried to play with him he would screw up his little face and blast! His father said he must have been born with lemon juice in his mouth. Mother said he would grow out of if and it was best to ignore his screaming but sometimes that was hard to do.

Zaki was always getting into trouble. The screaming made everyone nervous, and after a while it was like a kind of water torture, the slightest ooh, beeeep or aaah, would send Mother off into a tirade. "What did you do to that boy?" Why is he screaming now?"

Sometimes no one believed him that he had just sat down next to him or started to play with something that Sami wanted. Now Sami wasn't spoilt, he was just born a little screamer. He didn't scream because he was scared, in fact the only thing he was afraid of, was dogs. The best times for Zaki was when Sami was sleepy and let him read a bed time story to him and sit with him until he went to sleep. When he was sleeping, Sami was so angelic.

Now here was Zaki in the car, with a little time bomb lying down on the back seat. Any moment he would wake up, see his mother wasn't there, and scream! But Zaki had it all worked out. He had the money in his hand and he would tell Sami that they would go for a nice little walk to the shop and buy an ice cream. He wanted so much to be close to this little fellow. But in all the three years of his life, he had never even volunteered a hug to Zaki, except perhaps if they were playing horsy and Zaki was the horse and Sami was the cowboy. That was nice. Just from a few minutes.

As was inevitable, Sami sat up. He was a scrawny little guy. Light brown curls, deep brown eyes that twinkled with fun but could quickly grow dark, working up a blood curdling scream. He was still sleepy and rubbed his eyes, stretched out his legs and then he asked Zaki. "Where's Mama?"
"She's coming soon Inshaa Allah," replied Zaki calmly.
"I want Mama," he said.
"Do you want an ice cream?" offered Zaki.
"Ok."
"Well, let's lock the car and go for a little walk to the shop. But you have to promise to hold my hand when we cross the road."
Sami nodded his head, his face was bright. He loved ice cream.

Zaki started to smile. Maybe it would be all right after all. Here they were, the sun was shining, the street was lined with shady trees, the birds were singing and he was walking peacefully down the street with his own little brother who was trotting after him, the way little brothers do, trying to keep up with his big steps. Zaki held his hand more relaxed now, enjoying the afternoon. When they rounded the corner to the street of the shop, there was a low wall surrounding a building. Like a good brother, Zaki let his little brother walk next to the fence to be far away from cars and bicycles.

Then without any warning, the biggest Rottweiler you've ever seen jumped onto the wall on his forelegs. His huge mouth was right next to Sami's little ear as he bellowed out a deep thunder like bark. The dog probably was friendly, for if he wanted to, he could have swallowed him up there and then but he chose just to bark in his face. For just a second Sami froze, as did Zaki. But the size of the dog and the smallness of the wall, spelt out extreme danger to Zaki, whose first inclination was to head for the hills. And run he did. He forgot all about his little brother.

Now Sami had met his match. There was no comparison between his high pitched squawk and this elephant like bellow. There was nothing else little Sami could do. The height was perfect. He fitted exactly between his ankle and his knee, so involuntarily, he wrapped himself around Zaki's right leg.

There they were, brothers indeed, pounding down the pavement. Bigger brother lumbering along with his dear little Sami safely wound around his leg. They continued moving like this until the Rottweiler had gone to get a drink of water and they had arrived at the car, where Zaki fumbled for the keys, got into the car and endeavored to peel his little brother off his leg.

When Hafsa arrived back at the car, she found a strange sight. The boys were both sitting on the front passenger seat. The windows were up and there wasn't even the slightest sound.
"Assalam alaikum boys," she said. "Did you finish your ice cream?"
"Don't want no ice cream!" shouted Sami, a few decibels lower than usual, "I want Zaki!"