CHAPTER ONE.

Khaira, Huda and Abdur- Rahman crowded close together as they watched their parent’s car drive away out of sight.

Khaira held Huda’s hand tightly, trying to make her feel happy. Mummy had told her to look after Huda well and Khaira was eager to do a good job.

Unfortunately for Khaira, Huda stared at the disappearing car and something inside her snapped. “Ma! Ma! Ma!” she screamed. She pulled her hands out of Khaira’s and began to run towards the road, where the car had once been. Khaira, already 6 years old, was smart enough to know that roads were very very dangerous, especially for little children. She quickly caught Huda’s hand again and held onto it tight.

Huda didn’t care. She wanted her mummy. “Ma! Ma! Ma!” she continued to scream. She fought against Khaira’s hold and again managed to run away from her. This time, Khaira caught her just in time, before she could run back onto the road. Frightened at what would happen if Huda managed to run on the road when there was traffic, she wrapped her arms around Huda in a tight hug.

Huda however, didn’t understand. So she kicked and fussed and poor Khaira was sure that she’d soon have bruises. Khaira was quite close to tears when Nani came to the rescue.

She scooped up Huda into her arms and motioned for Khaira and Abdur Rahman to follow her into the house.

They followed Nani, who led them into the kitchen, where she had hot, hot rotis stacked in a pile next to the stove. Abdur Rahman’s eyes widened in delight and excitedly he asked, “Nani, please may I have a roti?” Even as he was asking, Abdur Rahman’s hands were already reaching out for one.

“Of course, you may even have ten if you wish to,” Nani replied.

“But Nani,” Abdur Rahman said with wide eyes, “how can I eat ten rotis if my stomach is only the size of my fist.” Abdur Rahman balled his hand into a fist and stared at it, “See Nani, only one roti will be able to fit in there and only if I chew it well and squash it in nicely. And by then my tummy will be very, very full. My stomach may just burst if I eat 10 rotis, and then I’ll have to go to the hospital. I don’t think I’d like that at all.”

Nani just laughed and shook her head, watching with a smile as Abdur Rahman grabbed a plate and put his roti on it, carefully smearing honey over it. Khaira followed suit, digging into Nani’ s cupboard for date syrup. Naani reminded them both to recite their eating dua first, before eating.

Nani made one for two year old Huda, but she was uninterested in her own, wanting her siblings rotis instead. She jumped onto the table, sneaking bites of Abdur Rahman’s roti when he wasn’t looking, and staring at Huda with big, begging eyes, until Khaira gave in, told her to recite ”Bismillah” first and then allowed her to have small bites.

Abdur Rahman stared at his empty plate a few moments later, said ”Alhamdulillah” and grinned at Huda. “Where did all my food go? I’m sure I didn’t eat it all. Maybe a little birdie stole it?”

“No, it was me. It was me!” Huda exclaimed and ran off as fast as she could on her tiny legs, Abdur Rahman pretending to chase behind her. Nani’s once quiet house was now filled with the sounds of the patter of children’s footsteps and the beautiful, tinkling sounds of children’s giggles. Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Aalameen.

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