[For such is the state of the disbelievers], until, when death comes to one of them, he says, "My Lord, send me back, that I might do righteousness in that which I left behind." No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a barrier until the Day they are resurrected. [Surah Al-Mu’minun, Q23: 99 – 100]
And never say of anything, "Indeed, I will do that tomorrow, "Except [when adding], "If Allah wills." And remember your Lord when you forget [it] and say, "Perhaps my Lord will guide me to what is nearer than this to right conduct." [Surah Al-Mu’minun, Q18: 23 – 24]
Pa Adewale sat outside on the veranda, in his favourite reclining chair, enjoying the cool evening breeze. His grandchildren Maryam (six) and Abdullah (ten) were outside the house with him as well. Pa Adewale was teaching them the names of the various plants, animals and other things that they could spot from their vantage point on the veranda. The house they lived in was a bungalow set back in a vast compound, and at times, like now, the family opened the gates wide and gathered on the veranda to watch the people go by and learn one or two things from their grandpa. He was an experienced and widely read man with twenty-nine years of travelling around the world under his belt.
“Look at that big tree Grandpa, what is it called?” Maryam pointed to a tree adjacent to their building.
“It is called an ‘Almond tree’, Maryam. By Allah’s will, it brings forth the Almond fruit, the very one young people like you call ‘fruit’.” Pa Adewale stroked her head as he explained. She was sitting in his lap while Abdullah was seated on a mat at his feet. The children nodded their heads while they listened, wide-eyed to his explanation and Abdullah said “Oh-Oooh. No wonder Sa’eed gave me a strange look yesterday when I told him I will pluck ‘fruit’ for him on my way to school on Monday. He asked what kind of fruit and I just answered like ‘ehn, fruit now’. I will let him and my other friends know that I have found out the real name for it.”
Pa Adewale laughed, and said “That’s good. It is always nice to pass on any new knowledge that one acquires.”
“Hmm you did not say in shaa’a Allah o. I know you won’t even do it gaan. That is how you said you will pray and do your homework this afternoon and you have not done both.” Maryam chipped in. “Shut up your mouth jo.” Abdullah said eyeing her.
Pa Adewale looked down at Abdullah, “Ngbo, is that true. You have not prayed Asr solah?” He inquired.
“Erm-em, no, sir. I – I planned to but I did not remember” Abdullah replied, stammering.
“Abdullah Adewale, get up, go inside and say your solah now.” Pa Adewale told him authoritatively.
Abdullah scrambled up and made for the front door. He turned to look back at Maryam who had also turned her head to look at his retreating back, and clicked his thumb and middle finger at her, mouthing: “You’ll see.” Then he disappeared into the house, but not before he saw Maryam smile and stick her tongue out at him.
This boy is like me in many ways, thought Pa Adewale. Although solah was not yet compulsory at Maryam’s age he asked her if she had prayed and she nodded in the affirmative. They continued their leisurely watch and a few minutes later, Abdullah returned and announced to them:
“I have prayed Asr and also recited my evening adhkaar.”
“Maa shaa’a Allah. Baaraakallahu feeh. May Allah accept it from you.” Pa Adewale was pleased. “Now sit back down, Abdullah. I want to tell you both a story”.
“Yes, yes, I love stories.” Maryam said excitedly while rubbing her hands in glee. Abdullah said Aamen to his grandpa’s dua and settled himself at his feet, also ready for the story. Pa Adewale began:
“This story is about a boy who loved to procrastinate.” The children squeezed their faces in confusion as they did not understand the new word. “What does proscastin.. mean, grandpa?” asked Abdullah.
“It’s pronounced Pro-cras-ti-nate, and it means: ‘to delay something which one is supposed to do for another time’. Don’t worry you will understand better, while I tell the story in shaa Allah.” Their grandpa explained and continued:
“Once upon a time, there was a young boy who lived with his parents and brother. His name was Luqman and his brother’s name was Sadiq. Luqman was twelve years old, and he was a good boy who obeyed his parents and did well at school and madrasah. But he loved procrastinating. He would put off saying his solah at the right time, he would delay his chores, his homework; in fact almost everything he was supposed to do…except eating and sleeping.” The kids giggled at that, and Pa Adewale went on:
“Luqman’s family and friends warned him about the dangers of his actions and tried to get him to stop: but try as he may he couldn’t bring himself to. One Saturday morning, Luqman sat in the living room studying while his brother was outside playing with their neighours’ kids. It was harmattan season, and as such it was cold and windy outside with dust particles flying around. Luqman knew that he had to call Sadiq in soon because he had persistent asthma, and dust and cold usually triggered an attack for him. He also had to take his medications and use his inhaler daily. He looked at the time: it was just noon and Sadiq had only been outside for an hour. ‘I will allow him one more hour and then I will call him in’ Luqman told himself. His mother had gone to her shop at the market where she sold provisions and their father was away on a business trip so they were both alone at home. Luqman continued with the book he was studying but soon fell asleep while at it. He was awakened much later by loud shouts and screams and someone shaking him awake ‘Luqman dide wa wo aburo e o’(Wake up and come check your brother). He sprang up and rushed outside to find Sadiq on the floor, barely breathing and unconscious. Sadiq had had an attack. Panicked, he knelt on the floor beside his brother and tried to shake him awake but got no response. He even put his head to his chest but it was silent and he heard nothing. It was at that moment that Luqman began to cry. He was shocked and scared. Someone from the crowd that had gathered round called out ‘Let us take this child to a hospital. Somebody should knock on Mr Okafor’s door, he must be in because his car is still in the compound’. It was like everyone acted at the same time and the next few hours were a blur for Luqman. Alhamdulillah, Mr Okafor was at home and he helped them transport Sadiq to the hospital. He even called their mum, briefed her what the situation was and informed her of the hospital he had driven Sadiq to.”
Pa Adewale paused and looked at his grandkids’ faces. The expression on Abdullah’s face was of shock and fear and he asked: “Subhanallah, what happened next? I hope Sadiq became well?” Maryam was breathing hard and was scared as well. Pa Adewale replied “Calm yourselves, my children.” He continued:
“They arrived at the hospital just in time. The doctor told them that if they had come in a few minutes later, they might have lost Sadiq. Their mother had rushed to the hospital from the market and she and Luqman were relieved to hear what the doctor had said. Sadiq was soon declared stable after the necessary medications had been administered and they were allowed to see him for a few minutes. Luqman and his mum went into Sadiq’s room and thanked Allah for saving him from such a close shave with death. Luqman looked at his brother, lying on the hospital bed, with an oxygen mask around his face and realized that he had almost lost his brother due to his lazy attitude. If he had asked his brother to come in and take his drugs when he remembered to, perhaps all this would not have occurred. Luqman vowed there and then never to delay anything he was supposed to do; whether it be his chores, solah, etcetera. He prayed to Allah to forgive him and help him for he regretted his actions and had learned his lesson in a bitter way. Alhamdulillah from that day forward, Luqman never procrastinated, ever again.” Pa Adewale finished telling his story.
“Maa shaa Allah, grandpa. I loved the story, thank you. I am also glad that Sadiq was okay in the end.” Said Abdullah. “Yes. But was that all you got from the story?” his grandpa asked.
“No, sir” Abdullah replied. ‘I learnt that postponing our actions can have serious consequences, most especially delaying solah and other compulsory acts of worship. In shaa Allah, from now on I will never procrastinate again. I will always pray on time, do my chores when I am supposed to and I will always say In shaa Allah whenever I intend to do something.” Abdullah promised.
Maryam clapped her hands and Pa Adewale was proud of him. He smiled at him and said “That is a good step you have resolved to take Abdullah, maa shaa Allah. Allah will see you through, if you are sincere.” Then he recited to them, from the Noble Quran, verses ninety-nine to one hundred and three of Soorah Al-Mu’minun. He also taught them the prophetic dua from Sahih al-Bukhari against procrastination and feelings of laziness;
Allahumma inni a’udhubika minal hammi wal hazan, wal ‘ajzi wal kasal, wal bukhli wal jubn, wa dhala ‘id-dayni, wa ghalabatir rijaal. (O, Allah! I seek refuge in You from grief and sadness, from weakness and from laziness, from miserliness and cowardice, from being overcome by debt and from being overpowered by men.)
Afterwards, he asked them: “Now would you like me to tell you a secret?”. The kids nodded eagerly and he continued “The boy, Luqman, in the story was me, when I was young.” The kids were surprised and “wowed’ in unison. So their old grandpa was once a little boy who sometimes did naughty things too, they thought.
At that moment, their father’s car drove into the compound. He parked and got out of the car, with his briefcase in hand. The kids ran to hug and welcome their father for he was at the veranda now and he greeted Pa Adewale as well. “Assalamu alaykum sir. Eku irole daddy. Eku ile. (Good evening daddy).
“Waalaykumsalam warahmatullahi. Kaabo omo mi(Welcome my son) I hope you had a good day at work?”
“Alhamdulillah. My day was splendid, thanks.” He turned to his kids “What have you been up to with your grandpa hmm?”
Maryam replied excitedly; “We have been learning a lot of new things from Grandpa and he just finished telling us a story of himself when he used to proscantin.” Abdullah rolled his eyes and corrected her “It’s PRO-CRAS-TI-NATE.”
“Hmm I have heard that story before too. Now since it is story time I would like to join in too. Abdullah help me get a chair from the dining please.” He turned to Pa Adewale “Dad, Please tell us another story, preferably one about your travels with Mum when she was still alive.”
Abdullah returned with the chair and his father sat down on it beside Pa Adewale while Abdullah resumed his former position at his feet.
“But you just got back from work. Maybe you should rest and I will tell you later.” Pa Adewale protested.
Immediately, his son and grandkids all chorused: “DON’T PROCRASTINATE!” and they burst into laughter. Pa Adewale laughed as well and said: “Alright, if you insist, I know just the story to tell you.” Then he began: “Once upon a time there lived a man and woman who lived together as husband and wife…….”