My little friends , Farook Aman, Canada
When we talk about friends, we usually presume that we are talking about human beings as friends. However there are life time friends of a different nature; animals, such as dogs, cats, goats, reptiles, etc .
We get attached to these creatures who do not usually know what we say, but they try intelligently hard to perform in such a way that they provide sense to what we say and act upon it. My neighbour has a dog, called Darcy. She pretty well understands everything that Charles and Caroline say. She is an amazing intelligent dog.
Charles often pass by my house with Darcy, and Darcy will habitually stop to check if I am around, say shovelling snow, or cutting the grass or wash the car. Darcy loves the biscuits that I offer her and is manifestly appreciative. When she sees me, she makes funny faces, moving head from side to side and often drops few drops of urine as a sign of joy as she comes to greet me. She understands when I ask: Do you want a cookie?
She would say yes in her own way: Shiny brown eyes, wagging tail and focused (yes) look to my face!
Betty, on the other hand, is like a sausage-shaped dog that has old age wisdom and adorable exchanges. She lives with Dave and Christine, who are also my neighbours. Betty is so sweet when she wiggles her tail to greet me. She too loves the cookies. She suffers from arthritis, but she never complains and always keeps a happy living mood with the family.
My little friends are wild little animals; 5 squirrels, 3 rabbits and few small birds. The squirrels and the birds visit me throughout the day, starting around 9 a.m. They come and wait peacefully outside my glass-framed patio door leading to the back yard of our house. They wait for handout of food, cutely holding their paws up in anticipation. I usually feed them all kinds of nuts, some fruits, red delicious apple peals and yes, avocados and cookies. The birds are given left over rice and bread crumbs which they enjoy eating and then fly away. Squirrels are intelligent and cute little animals. It is a joy to watch their swift way of eating or itching; they would hold the food with the front paws, roll it several times while they titbit at it very fasts. I love to watch them eating. They are friendly in their own way, but very cautious to get closer. However, I have managed to feed one of them by hand. She is what I call Aisha (the living). She is sick; crippled on the right side. She is much slow moving than the others. She cannot hold food and eat like the rest of the other squirrels. It is a big struggle to undertake. Time and again, she would role on her right side and figures out how to eat. I feel sorry for her, but she resilient and wise not to confront others. I can only provide her with food and try to protect her from the aggressive ones who attack to take food away from her. Aisha’s favourite food is dates. It keeps her warm, I suppose, in the cold winter. When she is full, she would pick the food and hob gracefully one step at a time on the snow covered ground to fetch a spot where she could dig a small hole in the snow and bury the food to revisit later. She would then gracefully but comical cover the hole with her front paws. She is the only little animal who looks me in the eye and expresses a silent gratitude. She is never shy to get closer to me, but not too close obviously; she knows that I feed and protect her from the others, who are fast moving and invariably aggressive against one another. So, there is some sort of silent trust between us. Squirrels often provide me with an entertaining show as they speed over the snow covered back yard trying to catch one another and fight. They sometimes climb the tree branch and watch approaching danger and athletically jump to the snow covered ground.
John, one of my good neighbours, promised to bring his Video Camera to record the little beasts in action!
3 rabbits visit my back yard daily almost to the minute from sunset. I cut fresh bread and leave it for them every evening. I also leave, nuts, fruit peals such as apple, cantaloupe and water melon. The next morning the food is gone and the snow covered back yard is relatively cleaner. Wild rabbits are timid and would not come closer to the patio door, if they see me standing. Habitually, when it is dark, I would put the light on to see the back yard and to watch my rabbit friends feeding quietly and favourably happy. It is amazing to note that they would remain in my back yard for most of the night in spite of the very cold temperatures; sometimes as low as minus 20 C plus the wind factor making it even colder. As day light breaks they disappear to revisit at sunset. I often wonder how they manage to withstand the cold temperature, but I pray for them to have the strength and the wisdom to endure. I see them run fast from one end of the yard to the other and sometimes they seem to fight (or play) by standing on their back limbs and hit with their front paws. It is so endearing to watch them in action. The fight (or play) would end in seconds thereafter.
In the hot and humid days of summer, I also leave 3 pots of water for my friends to drink. In no time, small birds come fast to drink and bath too. They are ever so vigilant; as fast as they come, they fly away as fast as well. They do not gamble to encounter any danger!
These little animals are expert in knowing how to protect themselves from danger. Yet they interact with us, as humans, and exhibit elegance, beauty and gratitude that cannot be matched by humans.
As I compare these beautiful little creatures with humans, I witness in the latter, hate and jealousy, fear and aggressiveness, meanness and back biting against one another. One of our Imams at the mosques often lectures us about avoiding undesirable habits, such as back biting, suspiciousness and jealousy. He once mentioned that Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him, was asked: What was the worst thing that a human can do? Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) held his tongue with his hand and stretched it out a bit and said: This!
What he meant was that saying the erroneous and immoral thing about others could lead to greater evils and harm. The animal kingdom has better mercy for one another than humans have. Example is reflected in the vicious and merciless wars that would decimate millions of human beings, land and nature as well as innocent animals.
A tongue could therefore source and cause terror, distress, pain and sufferings. It could also reward and recompense. When we evaluate what we say; if good, it is added to the balance of our blessings; if bad, it is added to the balance of our sins. Needless to mention, the balance of hasanat (blessings) is superior to adopt as a way of life.
I end by stating that there is an Arabic proverb that rhymes beautifully and it goes like this (in an English translation that will not rhyme): Your tongue is your horse (so to ride), if you respect it, it will respect and protect you, if you humiliate it, it will humiliate you too.
We are reminded day in and day out to love and respect others, regardless of race, colour or religion. How often do we remember that sense of acumen and wisdom and follow its path?
The other day, a good friend of mine articulated a practical joke that reflects and summarize our lives as human beings. It is funny in a sense but has wisdom and deep connotation.
The story of the joke goes like this: A scorpion fell in a pool of water and was about to t sink and die, when a frog was swimming by. The scorpion begged for help to save his life. The frog replied: if I save you from drowning, you promise that you will not to sting me, to which the scorpion promised and approved thankfully. However, when the scorpion was on safe dry land, he stung the frog that saved him. Painfully the frog shrieked and said: You promised me not to sting.
The scorpion replied: I am sorry; it is my nature!
Let us reflect for a moment and count, if we ever could, how many times we sting and get stung by brothers and sisters, yet we call ourselves human beings?!
I prefer to obligate my little friends who exhibit love, respect and appreciation.
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