In the early 1980s, my son Mohammed was preparing for his master’s degree in the US, so I visited him in Colorado to check how his studies were going. It was Ramadan and we were fasting. “A female classmate is going to cook iftar for us today. Would you like to come along?” my son asked me, and I replied “Of course,” because I was getting fed up of restaurant meals. “What is your colleague’s name,” I asked, and he told me Maasouma Al-Mubarak.
We went over after sunset and found that she had cooked a purely Kuwaiti meal including pudding, dumplings and stew with dried black lemon on top. “Where did you get the dried lemon from in America?” I asked. She told me that there was even a greater surprise. “The meat you are eating is a young lamb that we slaughtered to eat for iftar,” she told me. We enjoyed the taste of Maasouma’s sheep and thanked her warmly.
Years after that evening, she called me here in Kuwait. “I am Maasuoma. Do you remember me?” she asked, and I instantly said yes. “How can I forget you after eating your sheep in America?” I said, and she giggled for long, before asking me to introduce her to the then minister of social affairs and labor, the late Hamad Al-Rujaib. I took her to his office and made her wait until I saw him first. In his office, the minister forgot his position and starting recalling our past memories together, when we used to act onstage together. “Do you remember when I asked you what you had for lunch and you told me that you had bread and rice?” he asked me.
Our meeting went on for long, before I told him that a citizen outside wished to meet him. She was ushered in and discussed what she wanted, and we both left happily. Several years later, she became a minister, and I paid her a visit in her office to congratulate her and give her a present on the occasion. We too reminisced about our memories in the US and the sheep we ate.
Getting up to leave, she insisted on seeing me off till the front door despite my protests that I was merely a citizen and she was a minister. “You are more important than a minister,” she told me. Maasouma in fact followed the Prophet’s (PBUH) hadith, when he said that Allah had chosen Islam for us and asked us to fully observe good manners and be generous to make it complete. She did display good manners by seeing me out and was generous when she fed me a sheep for iftar in the US. – Translated by Kuwait Times from Al-Anbaa
By Dr Saleh Al-Ojairi