Naima had just returned from school. Her long face and a lifeless salam spoke 1000 words to her mother. “what’s wrong Naima?” asked her mom. “Nothing Ammi”, responded Naima. Few minutes later Ammi got her favorite snacks and chocolate milk. Normally easily pleaseable Naima hardly noticed her plate.
Ammi asks softly, “Did you forget to take your assignment to school?” Naima now in all tears,“I don’t want to go school.” Ammi questions, “why?” “Ammi all girls have fancy gadgets and latest cell phones. They speak about it all day. No matter how much I ask, you won’t get me any of those?” Ammi replies, “There is no need for these. We have a phone they can use it to call you. With that stuff you will be lost in games and useless jokes. Your time is better spent without that fancy stuff.” Naima bursts out, “I feel primitive belonging to Stone Age. I feel ashamed to be amidst my friends. Their parents pamper them as though they are princesses. I think they are special. How lucky are they? And here I am…” She stops abruptly.
Ammi was upset too. She silently left to kitchen. Few minutes later Ammi calls out. “Naima, would you like to have avocado kheer?” Naima can’t prevent herself from smiling. She had a big sweet tooth. Ammi announces, “you would have to help me cook it today.” Naima gladly agrees.
Contrary to Naima’s expectations it had just four simple ingredients. Ammi asks Naima to slowly pourone cup of couscous into 3 cups of hot skimmed milk . “keep stirring dear otherwise there could be lumps. Once the milk came to boil, Ammi reduces flames and asks Naima to add sugar to her taste. Then Ammi adds half a cup more of sugar before switching off the stove. “Ammi the porridge is sweet enough”, says Naima. Ammi just smiles as she covers the porridge. Then Naima was asked to spoon out pulp from two ripe avocados. Ammi had it ground to a smooth paste along with two cups of skimmed milk in a mixer. “Should I add it to the kheer?” asked Naima. “Patience dear, kheer shouldn’t be hot otherwise the avocado won’t taste the same” was the response. Few minutes later Naima mixed avocado paste to thick porridge. Now Naima was free to enjoy kheer garnished with nuts. It was not too sweet. The avocado paste had reduced its sweetness.
Ammi, “Did you like it?” Naima gave a big smile as she nodded. Ammi smiled back and said, “Tell me all about the kheer you made.” Naima asked, “Why mom?” Ammi replied, “Consider it as your extempore contest. Tell me all about it.”
Naima loved narrating. She stood up and lectured, “Today I was given the honor of making a tasty avocado kheer by mom. This is an original recipe invented by my Ammi. It’s made with milk ,avocado, couscous and sugar. It tastes creamy in spite of containing no cream. The couscous makes it filling. This light green sweet is sure simple, healthy and quick to make.”
Ammi asks, “Is that all?” Naima, “There is absolutely nothing more to say.” Ammi announces, “let me show you what you failed to see. Kheer is a Indo-pak recipe. My recipe has two alien ingredients – Avocado and couscous which are not originally from India or Pakistan.
- Avocado is native of Mexico and Central America where it is primarily used to make salsa a savory dip.
- Couscous is crumbled semolina. Its stable food in North Africa. It adores Tagines of Morocco. French relish couscous too.”
Naima interrupts. “Wow Ammi your humble kheer is an international cuisine uniting several continents. You are a genius.”
Ammi smiles and says. “I should also mention those who helped me.” Naima questions with big eyes -“Isn’t it me?” Ammi grins and continues. “No dear. Try to see beyond yourself.” Naima declares, “I didn’t see anyone help you.” Ammi smiles again and continues. “ Where do these ingredients come from?” Naima quickly utters, “Ah! The milk is from cows. Our local pasteurizing plant should have pasteurized and packed it. A farmer somewhere in Mexico should most probably have cultivated the fruit and exported it. And I remember, you picked up instant couscous packet packed in France. Yes, without those milkmen, farmers, exporters and many more people this dish wouldn’t be here.”
Ammi calmly says, “Very good. You are still forgetting one who made all this possible.” Naima is shocked. “I can’t believe this Ammi. Is there more to it? Please don’t say he is Abba (dad) who earns to feed us.” Ammi laughs aloud. “That’s true too. Thank you dear, I forgot to mention his role. But I’m not referring to your Abba.” Naima comes close and questions -“Who else?”
Ammi hugs Naima and says, “He is Allah. He had planned it long back so that you may relish the kheer today. Neither did the milkmen nor the farmer had any idea about kheer which you relish. Allah made it possible and all praise belongs to him.” Stunned Naima speaks out. “Allahu Akbar. I never saw it that way. Every morsel of food we take is by the grace of Allah. Countless people should have worked on it to make it end up on our plate! ”
Ammi asks Naima to sit next to her and says, “Not just food, the clothes we wear, the house we live in and vehicles we drive – are all a signs of His mercy. If you explore you’ll be surprised to find how many people worked on it. Unfortunately most of us still grumble.” Naima, “How is that so?” Ammi continues, “That’s because people have a tendency to see those who are more blessed than them and fail to appreciate what they are blessed with.” Naima realizes that her mom is pointing at her and moves slightly away.
Her mom quotes from Quran,” Therefore remember Me (by praying, glorifying,). I will remember you, and be grateful toMe (for My countless Favors on you) and never be ungrateful to Me. (chapter 2, verse 152). “
Then she says softly. “Remember Naima, in this materialistic world no matter what gadget you buy soon there would be a better gadget. Do not value people with gadgets they carry. Allah values people purely by Taqwa (God consciousness). Don’t corrupt your faith by being ungrateful. Indeed His blessings are countless. Allah states in Quran – ‘And if you would count the favors of Allah, never could you be able to count them. Truly! Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ (chapter 16, verse 18). It’s He who blessed you with your Ammi and Abba. You are more precious to us than any princesses. We know what’s best for you and we want Allah to be pleased with us.”
Naima hugs her mom tightly and says, “I’m sorry mom.”
Mom kisses Naima and says I’ll tell you hadiths which would increase your blessings. Ammi opens and reads hadiths on Alhamdhulilah from tafsir ibn kathir.
Jabir bin `Abdullah (ra) narrated that : the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The best remembrance is: ‘there is none worthy of worship except Allah (Lā ilāha illallāh)’ and the best supplication is: ‘All praise is due to Allah (Al-ḥamdulillāh).’”
Anas bin Malik said that the Messenger of Allah said, “No servant is blessed by Allah and says,`Al-Hamdu Lillah’, except that what he was given is better than that which he has himself acquired.”
Naima kisses her Ammi and says, “All I can say for having u as mom is Alhamdhulillah.” Ammi adds, “Alhamdhulillah – I have a wise daughter.” Naima quickly adds “Ammi I want to take rest of the kheer to school tomorrow.” Ammi “why dear?” Naima, “To tell my friends all about it. I’ll show them how lucky am I to be away from gadgets living real life away from this virtual world.”
No matter how upset you are there are 1000 more reasons to say Alhamdhulillah.