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By Selma Cook

 

 

"Come on Moppy and eat your porridge," said Mum as she looked over the rim of her glasses. Moppy was silently stirring her spoon around the steamy porridge.

"Do I have to eat this, Mum? I don't really like it," said Moppy.

"Be grateful for good food," said young Doody looking wide-eyed and innocent. "Think of all the hungry people in the world."

Mum looked at Doody and smiled radiantly.

"Now isn't Doody so kind to think of the other little children," beamed Mum.

 

Doody was Moppy's cousin and the biggest problem she had. When Doody was around Mum fussed around him and petted him and pinched his cheeks. She thought Doody was perfect. Moppy knew better.

"Aren't I just a little bit perfect too?" thought Moppy to herself.

 

"I saw you tip half the sugar bowl into your porridge," whispered Moppy to Doody with knitted eyebrows.

"I did not," sneered Doody.

"You did so. I saw you with my very own eyes," declared Moppy.

"You're imagining things," continued Doody. "You can't prove it anyway."

"You know Mum said no one's to have more than two spoons of sugar," said Moppy.

"I'll do whatever I like," said Doody sticking his tongue out.

He was careful to make sure his aunty didn't see him do that. Nevertheless, he gulped the rest down just in case Moppy did say something. Just when he had swallowed the last mouthful, he quickly tipped the remaining sugar into Moppy's bowl and cried out, "Look Aunty! Moppy's put a lot of sugar on her porridge and it's bad for her teeth, isn't it?"

 

"Oh Moppy!" exclaimed Mum. Moppy opened her mouth to say something in her own defense but Mum was talking so fast she couldn't get a word in edgeways. Moppy felt sad. Her Mum didn't seem to hear her when Doody was around.

 

 

"Now look Moppy! You've wasted all the porridge. No one can eat it with all that sugar. It will give you a tummy ache," said Mum rather annoyed.

Moppy glared at Doody who was smiling innocently.

"I think you can wash up the dishes this time," said Mum, looking a bit sternly at Moppy.

"But I did them last time," protested Moppy.

"No buts!" said Mum.

Moppy cleared the table and Doody sat on the bench while Moppy stacked the dishes in the sink.

"You're not allowed to sit on the bench," said Moppy who felt like giving him a push.

"You're not allowed to sit on the bench," mimicked Doody.

Moppy started washing the dishes in the soapy water imagining how nice it would be to see her Mum get upset with Doody! Oh what a pleasant thought.

 

 

Moppy remembered what Mum had told her if kids tease you at school or give you a hard time. She hoped the same thing worked for rotten little kids in the house as well as it did at school. Mum always said, 'Just ignore them! They'll get tired of talking to themselves and getting no reaction out of you and they'll give up eventually.' Moppy really hoped she was right.

 

Doody started to feel bored watching Moppy wash dishes. She wasn't talking to him. He felt like squeezing her. He wanted her to argue and fight and get upset and his dream was to make Moppy cry. Oh what a great day it would be if he could make Moppy cry like a baby!

 

But he needed a plan. It wasn't so easy to make Moppy cry. Then he thought of something. Just thinking about how clever he was made him feel like doing a victory dance!

 

"Hey Moppy! You're my servant! You're washing my dishes," said Doody looking very pleased with himself.

Moppy thought to herself, "I'm washing the dishes because Mum asked me and so I'll get blessings for that. She told herself not to answer him. Doody watched for a sign that Moppy was getting upset but he couldn't see anything. Not a thing. He had to think fast.

 

"Well, Moppy…I mean servant! Make sure you wash my dishes properly.  Oh and you looked so silly when I told your Mum you'd put the sugar in your bowl!"

Moppy still controlled herself and didn't answer him.

Doody continued. "I think I'll go play dolls now – with your dolls! Anyway, servants don't have dolls!" Doody jumped off the bench and went to Moppy's room.

Moppy pursed her lips. She couldn't bear to think of 'Disastrous Doody' playing with her dolls. She decided to be patient.

She didn't see Mum behind the kitchen door listening. She had heard everything!

 

Doody went into Moppy's room, opened the cupboard and took out a cartoon filled with dolls, clothes, and all kinds of accessories. He spread them out on the floor and was thinking what to destroy first when Mum came into the room.

"Oh Doody!" she smiled.

Doody beamed back trying as hard as he could to look innocent.

"How kind of you to help sort out Moppy's things. I was just going to clean out these boxes as well." Mum went to the cupboard and took down three more large cartons. "You may as well work with these also. Summer clothes folded in here, and winter clothes folded over there and toys up on top of the desk. Thanks sweetheart. You are a treasure."

Doody couldn't speak. How did all that happen? He'd have to think again.

 

Doody was surrounded by books, dolls, summer clothes, winter clothes, and boxes. Every time he looked at the window he felt like trying to escape. He had just finished working out how he could jump onto the tall tree beside the window and make a run for it, when Samy poked his head around the door.

"Moppy! Guess what?" asked Samy enthusiastically.

'I'm not Moppy," said Doody with a look of defiance.

"Oh no problem," said Samy, "I was just going to ask her about you."

"Why? Me!" asked Doody curiously.

"I have two tickets to the football game tonight," said Samy, waving the tickets in front of Doody, teasing him. "Do you want to come?" asked Samy.

"What do you think?" replied Doody.

The best thing he loved in the world apart from teasing Moppy, was football! What a great chance!

"What's going on?" asked Mum.

 

 

"I've got two tickets to the football match tonight," said Samy.

"Can I go?" asked Doody, with a pleading look in his eyes.

Mum turned to Samy. Doody didn't see her wink at Samy.

"Doody! Football? I'm not so sure about that," said Mum looking serious. "This boy Doody is such an angel. He volunteered to clean out Moppy's room and I'm sure he wouldn't dream of leaving the job unfinished. He might love football but he loves Moppy more – they're cousins! They're family!"

"Whatever," said Samy. "If Doody doesn't want to go I can always ask my friend." Samy turned to leave.

"Wait!" cried Doody. "I really really want to go," he pleaded. He looked like he was going to cry.

"What about Moppy, dear?" asked Mum.

Doody looked confused.

"Just ask permission from Moppy to let you off the hook about her room and then we'll see," said Mum looking a bit seriously at Doody.

"Sounds fair," said Samy. He wanted to see how things turned out.

 

 

Doody flew downstairs calling out in a sweet loving voice, "Moppy! Moppy!"

Moppy was sitting on the couch surrounded by books. She barely looked at him when he came into the room.

"Hey Moppy," said Doody.

"Wa alaikum salam," said Moppy, without looking at him.

Doody looked embarrassed. He forgot to say Salam alaikum. He wasn't off to a very good start.

"I need to ask you something," he said quietly, looking at his feet.

Moppy said nothing. She was reading.

"I want to go to the football game and I need to fix the room."

"Go ask your servant," said Moppy, still not looking at him.

"I don't have one," said Doody meekly. He was getting more and more frustrated. This just wasn't turning out how he had planned.

"Oh where did she go?" asked Moppy. She stole a glance at him. Doody was thinking hard. He knew he had been rotten to Moppy but now he needed her. What should he do?

 

He stood there for what seemed like ages until he finally understood what he'd have to do in order to go to the football match. He'd have to say 'sorry'. The very thought made him wince with pain.

"Ahh … Umm … I … want to arr… want to say something," stuttered Doody.

"Who's stopping you?" Moppy kept reading.

"I'm arr, you know, really, umm, sorry." Finally, he said it.

Moppy stopped reading and looked up from her book. Was she hearing right? This was Disastrous Doody standing humbly in front of her saying sorry! Was the world coming to an end?

"What are you sorry for?" asked Moppy feeling bewildered.

"You want a list?" asked Doody startled.

"Yup!"

Doody looked confused. There were too many things to choose from.

"What about if we just start from today?" suggested Moppy.

Doody felt relieved.

 

 

 

"Well I'm sorry about sticking out my tongue."

"Aha."

"And… umm… well tipping the sugar into your bowl."

"And…?"

"Telling your Mum you did it."

"What else?"

"That's all."

"No, it isn't."

"What else?" asked Doody, feeling worried.

"The worst thing Doody!" said Moppy sternly.

"What was worse than telling your Mum you tipped the sugar into your bowl?" asked Doody.

"I'll tell you what's worse," said Moppy, standing up and looking him square in the face. "You called me a servant."

"So?"

"Everyone's equal Doody! You're not supposed to look down on anyone. There are servants in the world but that's a bad way of calling people. Mum calls them 'helpers' because that's what they are. They help. And when you called me a servant you wanted me to feel bad – to feel less than you!"

"Yeah – it worked, didn't it?"

"No, it didn't!" said Moppy adamantly.

"Why?" Doody looked worried and confused.

 

 

Moppy and Doody stood in front of each other. Mum and Samy walked into the room and sat down. Samy smiled. He always liked to see Moppy stand up for herself and today she was doing a fine job. Mum had told him what had happened.

 

"I have an idea," said Mum. She looked at Moppy and smiled warmly.

"If Doody hurries up and finishes the sorting out, he'll have time to go to the match. But only if you agree Moppy," said Mum taking her by the hand.

Moppy closed her eyes. The words her Mum always told her came to her mind. Allah said that if softness is taken out of a thing it becomes ugly. She remembered all that had happened to her that day and it was ugly. Really ugly. At least it looked like that to her. She didn’t want to be ugly. She knew she could turn all this ugliness into something better and beautiful if she could just be soft now.

 

"Oh OK," said Moppy gently.

Doody didn't say another word. He gave Samy a high five and raced upstairs to sort out the boxes as fast as he could.

Mum looked at Moppy and smiled again. She didn't have to say anything. One look and Moppy knew she had done the right thing. Moppy sat down with her books and started reading again.

 

Doody came downstairs fumbling with an armful of books.

"Hey Moppy! Can you help me?"

He looked at Samy and Mum who were looking lovingly and proudly at her. She was getting all the 'good' looks now and all the smiles. No one hardly smiled at Doody now.

Moppy didn't answer him.

"But Moppy," said Doody still fumbling with the books, "don't you want to get a good deed for helping your dear little cousin?"

"Oh you can have this good deed," said Moppy, "I've already had lots and lots of blessings today!"

This story can not be reproduced without prior permission of the author. selmacook@hotmail.com