Rule of thumb

It was a beautiful spring day, and Manal was playing outside. She was using chalk to draw different pictures on the driveway. So far she had made a rainbow, a hopscotch game, and three happy face drawings. Right now, she was working on a picture of a tiger.

Manal loved to draw almost as much as she liked to work in the garden. Her mom had bought some brand new chalk for her last week, and Manal was making sure none of them broke off or rolled down onto the street. She looked up to see her dad trimming the shrubs, and called out to him.

‘Baba, come see my pictures!’, she said.

Baba stopped his work and looked over to Manal. ‘Give me a few minutes, sweety. I’ll come by as soon as I’m done with this plant.’, he replied.

Just then her mom and baby brother came out of the house. Her mother was carrying baby Yusuf, and they both walked by to admire Manal’s drawings. ‘Be careful, Mama! Don’t let Yusuf mess up my stuff!’’, warned Manal.

‘I’ve got him, don’t you worry Manal. I love your rainbow! How about I make some clouds around it? Do you have any white chalk?’, asked her mom.

‘Sure, Mama’, said Manal handing her some chalk. Yusuf was clapping his little hands and gurgling happily at everyone, when Manal turned to look at him, just as she was closing the box of chalk.

Suddenly the box slipped out of her hands and all the chalk rolled down the driveway. ‘Oh no!!’, she cried out, starting to run after her chalk pieces. Her dad was heading over to see her drawings, when he saw the chalk rolling away and quickly raced to help. Luckily, the chalk had fallen by the sidewalk, and they found all of them easily.

Manal walked angrily towards her brother. ‘Yusuf! That was all your fault! You made me drop all the chalk and now I’m very very mad at you!!’

‘Manal! What do you mean? He didn’t do anything!’, said her mother. Yusuf started to cry and Mama tried to calm him down.

‘Sweety, I think you’re upset about dropping the chalk, but we found all of them. Everything’s fine, you know’, consoled her dad.

‘No! He was talking, so I got distracted. It’s his fault I dropped them. He’s always messing everything up!’. Manal was very angry.

Her parents looked at each other, while Manal stomped away and sat down on the front steps. Her mom and dad came to sit with her. Her brother had stopped crying and was happily sucking his pacifier now.

‘Manal, you know Yusuf was just happy to see you. And I agree, he does get into your stuff sometimes, but what happened just now was an accident. You know he doesn’t know what he’s doing as yet, he’s only a baby.’, explained her mom.

Manal shrugged and swiped at her tears. ‘But he does mess up my stuff a lot!’, she replied, still angry.

‘Manal, what’s the rule of thumb when you get mad?’, asked her dad.

‘Stay on track, don’t bring up old matters back.’, recited Manal grudgingly. She said it a couple more times and took a deep breath. ‘You’re right Mama. I’m sorry Yusuf.’ She gave him a smile and kissed his cheek.

‘I’m glad you feel better honey. Yusuf and I will go inside, and make some lemonade. Why don’t you finish up your drawing and come on in afterward?’, suggested her mom.

‘Thanks Mama, I will. You know, Baba, I like that thumb rule. I give it a big thumbs up! Thank you for reminding me.’, said Manal wiggling both her thumbs at her father.

Her dad chuckled. ‘I like that rule too, and I’m proud of you calming down so quickly. Let’s go finish up your drawings now, and don’t worry I won’t distract you or drop the chalk box!’, he teased.

“Baba!! You’re forgetting the rule! No bringing up old matters remember?’, she teased him back.

They both laughed and went to finish their masterpieces.

Story inspiration : “Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous. Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men, for Allah loves those who do good.” (3:133-134)

“It is not lawful for a Muslim to desert (stop talking to) his brother beyond three nights, the one turning one way and the other turning to the other way when they meet, the better of the two is one who is the first to greet the other.” [Bukhari]