Sara was very nervous. Her art exam was today! Art was very difficult for her. She liked it a lot but only when she had lots and lots of time to do it. For the exam, she was only given an hour to draw a picture and that was not enough at all. For this exam, she would have to draw a house with windows and doors. She had practiced so many times, trying to get the lines straight and the sizes right but it only worked when she had taken four whole hours to do it!
Sara’s mother said to her, ‘Don’t worry about it. Take the ruler and go. Say, ‘Bismillah’ and take a deep breath before you start. You’ll be just fine!’
‘Thanks, mummy!’ Sara replied.
The night before school, Sara made sure she had everything in her bag. The morning of her exam, before she came to school, Sara made sure again that she had everything she would need.
The teacher had told everyone to bring pencils, sharpeners, erasers and most importantly, a ruler. Sara knew that she would need a ruler to draw straight lines for the house and get the sizes right. If she did not have a ruler, her house would be crooked and ugly. Then she would get very frustrated and everything would go wrong.
Sara had her breakfast very slowly because she was very nervous. That morning, the cereal tasted like craft paper and the orange juice tasted like paint. The yolk on her eggs looked like a blot of yellow paint instead of what should have been the painted sun on a painted white sky and one of the prongs on her fork looked very crooked.
As she sat in her bus on her way to school, Sara looked out the window. She noticed that the glass on the window had a very crooked crack on it. The seat in front of her looked a little crooked too. That morning, everything was crooked and Sara knew her house would be crooked too. She took a very deep breath.
When she went to school, Sara saw Wafa. Wafa seemed very nervous. She was looking for something. Sara asked her what was wrong. Wafa told Sara that she had lost her ruler. Sara knew that Wafa had actually forgotten to bring her ruler as she was always forgetting to do things. ‘Poor girl’, thought Sara. Sara told Wafa that she should ask the teacher for an extra ruler. Then, Sara went back to worrying about her crooked house.
Just then, the school bell rang and the teacher came in. Sara couldn’t help but notice that the teacher’s hijab seemed a little crooked. Sara swallowed at the thought of her crooked house. Sara reminded Wafa to ask the teacher for a ruler. Wafa was going to ask for another ruler but she did not want to.
‘Why won’t you go and ask her for a ruler?’ Sara asked Wafa.
‘Oh! I don’t know. She won’t have one. I’ll just manage!’ Wafa snapped.
Sara knew that Wafa wasn’t asking only because she did not want to tell the teacher that she had forgotten her ruler. Sara felt bad for her but she had other things on her mind, like her crooked house.
After a while, the teacher called the students one by one, to take a sheet of paper to draw on. Sara left her things on her table and went to take a sheet of paper. When Sara was gone, Wafa quickly grabbed Sara’s ruler. She kept it under her table, in her desk so it wouldn’t be seen. She ran quickly to get a sheet of paper.
Sara held her clean, white sheet of paper and headed to her table and chair. When Sara got to her table, she did not notice that her ruler was gone. She sharpened her pencil and was going to start drawing. She said, ‘Bismillah’ and took a very deep breath. She held her pencil firmly, imagined her straight lined, right sized, perfectly drawn house on her white sheet of paper …….
and …… then she could not find her ruler.
Sara got very nervous. She began to feel very hot. The floor began to look very crooked. She did not know what to do. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead and her lips got a little dry. She did not want to ask the teacher for a ruler because no one was allowed to talk during the exam. She also saw that all the extra rulers had been given away to other students. What was she going to do?
Sara was very frustrated now. Her eyes were getting wet and she kept saying ‘Bismillah’ and taking deep breaths. She decided there was nothing to be done but draw the house without a ruler and hope for the best.
She drew the house as neatly as she could. The lines were crooked and she thought her house was ugly. All the windows were of different sizes. The door seemed abnormally small. The chimney looked like it was falling off the roof and the roof looked like it was falling off the house. The top half of the house looked narrower than the bottom part of the house and soon Sara’s one hour was up.
When the exam was over, she gave her paper to the teacher. The teacher saw that she was upset. She asked Sara what was wrong. Sara started to sob. She said that her ruler had gone missing.
The teacher asked the whole class if they had seen Sara’s ruler. Wafa still had Sara’s ruler. She hid it under her table, in her desk. Sara saw that Wafa was hiding something. She got suspicious. She remembered that Wafa had forgotten her ruler. She told the teacher so.
The teacher looked through Wafa’s things. She found a ruler and asked Sara if it was hers. Sara knew it was her ruler and said that it was.
The teacher scolded Wafa. She told her that stealing was a very bad habit. She told Wafa and the whole class that Allah (SWT) will be unhappy with people who steal. Wafa was embarrassed. She had gotten caught in front of the whole class. Now she felt very hot. Beads of sweat began to appear on her forehead and her lips got rather dry. She was very embarrassed.
Wafa said she was sorry to Sara. She hoped Allah (SWT) would forgive her. Sara accepted Wafa’s apology. Sara was still upset because her house was still crooked and would never be straight but she knew how to forgive and so she did.
After the school day was over, Sara sat in her bus as it took her home. She saw the crooked crack on the window and still thought the seat in front of her was crooked but now Sara didn’t mind. The crooked things she saw reminded her of the crooked house she drew and she was glad she was able to put up her best effort in drawing it.
That was how Sara started appreciating what was crooked.