That was all that Yusuf had.
He wanted to buy those colourful rubber bands that had become a trend in the past few weeks. He knew it’d look really smart on the new girl’s short curly hair. The ringlets fell in waves around her and the rubber bands would be like her crowning glory.
…and the black ribbons looked old and tattered. She had nothing other than that to tie her hair. Of course, she couldn’t cut them! Her mother wouldn’t let her, he was sure. A girl ought to have long hair.
How he wished to find the money to buy them. But, it cost 15 rupees. It’d take him months to buy those even if he started saving immediately! What really made him sad was that when the day came for him to shyly ask her to marry him she would definitely ask him about this. Who wouldn’t? Any boy in his right mind would find a way to impress her with what he could afford.
Yusuf was in a bad mood all week. Everyday he would pass that small shop with glass interiors and colourful shelves and peeked into them until he was shooed away by the owner.
On the 5th day his eyes caught something absolutely commonplace and rather unimportant that he had been ignoring all this while.
A roll of twine.
Of course, it wasn’t going to help her tie her hair and the ribbons will still be a part of her. But, this was the next best thing. And anyway, he rationalized, a piece of jewellery was better than a hairband, right?
It suddenly seemed so simple to Yusuf that he laughed aloud at his stupidity. His solution to the predicament was staring at him all these days. A roll of twine was all that he needed. At least to begin with.
Kicking up a sandstorm, he ran home in excitement and rushed to his old tin trunk in which his broken toys were stashed for his younger sister.
He wasn’t sure when she’ll come as he had been hearing about it for a very long time now. He brushed that thought aside and sank his hands inside the voluminous trunk and after a few minutes of struggle he came up with a long ball of black thick yarn.
He remembered exactly where he had found it. Right next to Rafique chacha’s loom, spattering and groaning and clanking under the heat. He knew that he wouldn’t’ve begrudged him this length of yarn, but he still thought that sneaking it away was the smartest thing to do. After all, he thought smugly, chacha never mentioned that his precious yarn was missing.
He measured it out and cut them into comfortable lengths and smoothed the ends. As he finished cutting 10 lengths of roughly of 12 inches each, he proceeded with the remainder of his plan. This part was harder. The process was long and he was in a hurry.
So he started immediately.
He ran to the small thatch roofed barn and scared the hens scampering away. Amidst dried poop and left over grain he found a lot many things. Round buttons and shiny disks that bordered on his amma’s dupatta. The discs were a plenty so he picked them as many fit into his childish palms.
He then ran to the river where women went to wash their daily laundry. Here he found magic. Buttons of all shapes and sizes along with daintily painted wooden knick knacks of various shapes.
Yusuf knew he had an upper hand now. Better than the costly rubber bands and looked more expensive. He ran home and sneaked a little bit of ash from his grandfather’s room and ran back to the stream. He worked hard. Dirt of many generations clung to them and he cleaned it with delicate hands so as not to twist or break them.
It took him an hour more to dry them and thread them. He had to take two lengths of the black yarn and wax them together to make it stick and make it waterproof.
The result was astounding. He could imagine the way she’d wear it with pride. He could imagine how he’d leave it under her writing pad the moment he found an opportunity.
Of course, he wouldn’t tell her it was him. Not yet. He’d quietly sit and watch from behind when she finds it.
And then she’ll wear it to school the next day.
One day she’d be his own.
Your legacy should be that you made it better than it was when you got it.