It’s one of those anecdotes that give your trust in God an instant boost. And make you wish things would go deliciously wrong again.

A young Chinese student moved to an apartment in our building a couple of days ago. I met him and his mother on our way to the park. They were a friendly bunch.

‘I can imagine how you must feel leaving your kid here.’ I said to the mother. ‘If I were you, I’d probably interview every single tenant in the building before leaving.”

She laughed out loud. ’Well, then you really know!’

‘Don’t worry though, it’s a wonderful place and we’re happy to help. He’s in good hands.’

I turned to the young man, Andrew. ‘Anytime you need anything, just knock our door.’

The next few days were busy like all days. Ibrahim, my 12 yr old son, would sometimes come across Andrew in the hallway and say hi. I often thought of cooking something delicious and sending it to Andrew to see how he was settling in but never got around to it.

Then one early morning, we were grocery shopping and I remembered Andrew.

‘Let’s buy something for him’. I said to Ibrahim.

‘Pizza!.’ He said.

‘Not halal’

‘Ice cream?’

‘We might have to leave it at his door. Don’ want to be worried about melting.’

‘Candies?’

‘Bad for teeth. How about nuts?’

‘Boring’ he said.

‘Fruit?’

‘Come on. mom.’ He rolled his eyes. ‘Next you will suggest broccoli and then quinoa.’

‘OK smarty, cookies?’

‘Cake!’

“OK. Done.’

So we bought a cake.

Now the problem was that neither of us remembered the apartment number of Andrew. After a lot of guessing who lives where, we finally decided it’s got to be apartment 9.

‘But even if it’s not Andrew, give it to whoever lives there OK?’ I reminded him. Kids can be brutally honest sometimes.

‘Why? why not knock on everybody’s door, let them all come out and give it to Andrew. This way he will feel more special.’

Ibrahim!’

‘Just kidding mum, You think I’m a kid?.’

‘Ha! not a kid. When I sent you the other day with biryani for Richi you knocked on the apartment door next to him too. Was that not a childish prank mister?’

‘That’s because I thought Richi might not open the door. So just to save your food, I knocked both apartments doors and stood in the middle.’

‘And imagine what could happen if both of them opened the door and you had just one box of meal? Who would you give it to then?’

‘Come on. They’re not robots to open the doors at exactly the same time. And I was all set to hightail it anyway. So as soon as one of them opened the door, I’d hand him the box and run off before the second one had a chance to open his door. And by the way, I knew the other one wasn't going to open the door any time soon.’

‘Why? was he not home?’

‘No, because I heard him taking shower.’

I held my head.

‘You still stick your ears to the walls to see if someone is in the bathroom or not?! It’s rude!’

‘I don’t!’ He protested. ‘But I can’t help hearing it. You want me to wear ear plugs?’ He smiled mischievously.

I sighed.

‘Look Ibrahim, it’s bad to pry and listen to what we’re not supposed to listen. Now, be a good boy. Just knock on the door of apartment 9 only and give the cake to whoever opens it with a smile.’

‘Nobody opens with a smile’ he grumbled. ‘It’s only me who is smiling my teeth out. They smile only when they see the thing in my hand.’

‘It’s you who I meant should smile.’

‘So if he’s in the shower, should I wait or come back?’

Of course you come back.’ I gritted my teeth.

‘But how am I gonna know that unless I listen quietly?’

‘My God, Ibrahim.’ I wanted to hit him on the head, but I was holding the cake.

‘You can make a perfectly sane person insane in no time. My head is already aching and it’s just 8 am in the morning. Just go. No questions asked.’

‘Full time mama mode.’ He laughed.

Finally, when Ibrahim knocked on the door of apartment nine, the person who opened the door wasn’t Andrew. It was someone we had never met before.

‘Morning!’ the stranger said.

‘Umm. Hi.’ said Ibrahim, quickly recovering from disappointment.

‘Just wanted to give you this’. He handed him the cake.

There was a moment of silence. Then the man exclaimed.

‘Wow! isn't this a wonderful surprise!’

Then he looked at Ibrahim incredulously.

‘Hey, how could you possibly know it’s my birthday?!’

--

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H. Afridi

H. Afridi

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Interested in everything good under (and above) the sun. Seeker of truth. Entrepreneur. Health, environment & grassroots sports enthusiast. Productivity freak