“Usama! Are you reading mystery books before bed? Again?” Usama’s mother questioned warningly.
“Mom, it’s only the last book in the series, then I’ll be done, really,” Usama reassured. His attention didn’t waiver from the book.
“Usama, you know that we should read good books before we sleep, and then recite the dua’s so that we can have Allah’s protection through the night. And seeing the books you read, it’s no wonder you get nightmares at night.”
“But,” Usama interjected. “At least I never wake you up if I have a nightmare.” He never owned up to a mistake.
“Fine, fine, now go to sleep and don’t forget to read your dua’s.”
Usama’s mother kissed him goodbye and went to her own room, leaving Usama to read the last chapter of the book, which he enjoyed very much. As he reached the end of it, Usama’s eyes began to droop, so leaving the book on one side of the bed, he shifted to the other side and lay down.
In the middle of the night, he awoke in terrible fright. Despite the cold, he was covered from head to toe in sweat. He had never had such a startling nightmare before!
Four horrifying and intimidating criminals wearing masks were chasing him in the dead of the night. He was running fast through the tunnels to escape them, when, not able to see a tree in front of him because of the dark, he crashed into it, and let out a blood-curdling scream, instantly waking up, shivering.
He thought about getting a glass of water, but he didn’t have enough energy or courage to go all the way to the kitchen in the dark. He lay down once again, hoping to get some sleep, but the effort was useless. He simply could not sleep, no matter how hard he tried. The window in his room showed the long, dark silhouettes of trees, which rustled every now and then, frightening him further. The wind outside was howling, sounding more and more like a wolf in an abandoned place. A cat was wailing somewhere, making the whole scenario chilly and rather creepy.
Just then, Usama thought he heard a sound coming from the roof. He listened carefully. Yes, there it was again! His window showed the main gate of his house, too, and he could see some of the family’s precious bags just outside the gate. Whoever was on the roof wanted to get to the bags, and steal them, no doubt!
‘I didn’t wake up without reason,’ thought Usama. ‘There must be something wrong in the house.’ He had to go to the roof of the house, and stop the thief, or whoever it was before it was too late!
As he climbed out of his bed, his legs shook from fear, but remembering the brave inspector in the mystery book he was reading, decided that he really must go on. He was almost ready to deal with the intruder.
He got a terrible shock as he opened the door to go outside, and froze. There, just outside his door, was a man standing in a coat. “Who is it? Who are you?” he managed to say in a strangled, trembling voice, but there was no answer. Just then, he remembered that he had hung his school coat there last night, outside his room, and sighed with relief, slightly embarrassed at his fear.
“It’s best if I take my torch with me, then I’ll be able to see in the dark,” he thought. Taking his big black torch out of his drawer, he felt much more like a confident hero.
Usama headed towards the roof. As soon as he entered the place, something leaped on him and grabbed him with force. His terrified scream was muffled under who that had grabbed him, and he fell down with a loud thud.
Meanwhile, Usama’s father, who had the habit of waking up just before Fajr to offer the tahajjud prayer, heard all the commotion happening above and was wondering what it could be, when he heard Usama’s scream. Quickly scrambling out of bed, he put on his slippers and hurried to the roof. Usama’s mother also woke up in alarm. She ran after her husband reading the Ayat-ul-Kursi hastily, hoping nothing had gone wrong. When they reached the top, they found Usama on the ground, apparently unconscious. His father asked his wife to get a glass of water to pour on his face while he stayed with his son, and she went at once. Usama’s father began patting his head, and as he was doing so, found strange claw marks on Usama’s face. Worried, he looked around but didn’t see anyone.
Usama’s mother returned with the water, and they poured it gently on his flushed face.
He slowly opened his eyes. “Dad? Where am I? Where are the robbers?” was his first question.
His father looked confused. “Usama, there is no robbery here,” he explained.
“Oh, there is! He wanted to steal our things outside the gate! He’s the one who attacked me, too!” the boy exclaimed. Not understanding what to do, his father sent him down to his mother and started searching for any signs of a robbery.
Sometime later, when Usama’s father came downstairs, he saw Usama’s siblings all gathered in his room, who looked up at his smiling face in confusion. “Dad, did you call the police?” inquired his son. His father smiled.
“Why do I need to call the police when we have such a brilliant detective in our house?” he laughed. His wife was not amused. “Tell us quickly, what happened?” she asked impatiently.
Usama’s father began, “Well, our detective son has clearly made up quite a story. The things that were outside the gate were actually rubbish bags, which the garbage disposal did not come to fetch the day before. The noises from above were only the pipes, which were creaking because of the freezing cold weather.The ‘robber’ who attacked Usama was actually the cat who had kittens a few days ago, one of which is lost, and she leaped on him, thinking he took one of them.”
Everyone stared. Laughed.
Usama’s elder sister made a face. “It serves you right for reading so many mystery stories at night. Waking everyone up!”
“And Usama does not even read his dua’s at night,” the smaller sibling, Adil, complained. Seeing the angry and upset look on her son’s face, Usama’s mother stepped in, “Okay everybody, now let him rest. Go pray Fajr now! I’ll give him the medicine he needs, and explain everything.” She did not want to worry her son at that moment.
After everyone left, Usama’s mother put her hand on his head. “Does it still hurt?” she asked gently.
“Yes, Mom,” he said, in a tearfully, wanting some sympathy. “Are you going to sleep with me from now on?” he asked her.
“Till when can I do that, sweetie? You will have to be brave and sleep by yourself eventually,” his mother replied.
“I was being brave, wasn’t I?” Usama asked hopefully.
Just then, his father entered the room after coming back from Fajr prayer. He sat down next to Usama and said, “Usama, I think you still don’t get the point. What your brothers and sisters were trying to tell you is exactly what your mother and I have been trying to explain to you. You shouldn’t read scary or spooky mystery books before going to bed, and remember to always read the dua’s right before sleeping, to get Allah (S.W.T)’s protection throughout the night. Our beloved prophet used to read them, then neither will you have nightmares nor will you see imaginary thieves,” he finished, watching Usama fall silent.
After a while – “Mom, could you give me the dua’a book we have so that I can read it every morning and night?”
His mother was just about to respond when Aadil peeked inside the door.
“By the way, Sherlock Holmes, did you seem to notice if the thief was wearing a cat’s mask, or not?” he asked, a grin spreading over his face, as Usama angrily leapt out of the bed and ran to catch the fleeing boy, laughing all the way down the hall.
Written by: Naima Sohaib
Translated by: Maryam Sohaib
Image Source: torch