We are introduced to two characters here. They are Saeeda and her mother. Saeeda's mother was very sick. She had been suffering from all kinds of illness, namely, fever, cough, body-ache, painful joints, etc. Although she had consulted several doctors, none were able to fix her health. While she got better, she eventually fell sick again. Her mother was very weak. Moreover, she looked pale due to her sickness.
Saeeda's mother was very ill
But the most terrible thing about her mother's life was that she wasn't allowed to eat proper food, nor was she allowed to leave her room. The doctors had asked her to get bed rest inside her small dark room. That prevented her mother from getting fresh air and sunlight.
Despite following the doctor's instructions, the mother's health condition became critical. Her concerned neighbours and relatives asked her to consult a specialist instead of the regular doctors. Unfortunately, the fee was very high, and Saeeda's mother was poor. But her friends persuaded her by saying that life is more important than money.
Mother decided to listen to their words. She sold some of her ornaments and secured enough money to pay the doctor's fee and the cost of medicine.
A few days later, the doctor visited Saeeda's home. He prescribed some medicines to her mother after looking into her condition. Although the medicines were expensive, they were also effective. He also told her to eat food that anyone would consume in normal circumstances. Contrary to what the previous doctors had said, she was asked to eat whatever she wishes for, such as chapati, vegetables, milk, and fruits. More importantly, and to the surprise of her relatives and friends, she was asked to leave the dark and tiny room to settle for a bigger one with windows and doors open. The room that she was staying in was so small that it feels stuffy and suffocating. Besides, her windows were always shut, and she never got any fresh air, nor had she seen sunlight in a while.
The doctor asked the mother to leave her old lifestyle behind. Instead of getting cooped up in her room, he asked her to go out to get sunlight and fresh air, and also to eat well. He recommended that she should sit under the sun for an hour, preferably between eight and nine o'clock every morning. Moreover, as the doctor says, sunshine and fresh air can help her mother recover sooner and better. They are, in his opinion, more important than medicine.
Soon, the topic had given rise to a heated discussion among the relatives and friends. Everyone had an opinion to state. Some of them agreed with the doctor, while some other thought that the suggestion was ridiculous. An experienced lady who opposed the doctor's recommendation argued that Saeeda's mother, who was suffering a chronic cough, shouldn't be exposed to sun or air. Of course, as expected, a younger person launched a counter-attack to the older lady's statement.
Everyone had an opinion to share
Saeeda's mother was too tired and weak to enter into the quarrel. However, she firmly stood by the doctor's recommendation. She said that she wasn't worried about the consequences and was willing to follow the doctor's advice. Moreover, she had spent a part of her life between the shut doors and windows. However, her health never got any better. Hence, she must have thought that it was time that she did something different. After all, her health was getting worse and her days seem to be numbered. So, how worse could it get?
Her mother was firm in her decision. She had made up her mind to follow what the doctor had said. She asked her bed to be moved into the next room. She also decided to sit in the sun on her charpoy for an hour every day.
The next morning, Saeeda's mother was all prepared to sit under the sun as told by the doctor. However, the sky was gloomy and cloudy. The sun wasn't shining, and it looked as if it was going to rain. Saeeda's mother was sad but decided to wait for the next day.
Unfortunately, the next day was also the same. The sun was hidden behind the thick dark clouds. Saeeda's mother felt too unhappy and had lost all her hopes. She was upset with God for not cooperating with her. She felt as if the universe was conspiring against her and wasn't letting her get better. She spoke, in a voice that was so feeble that it was more to herself than to anyone in particular. She asked God why He has hidden the sun and isn't letting her get cured.
Saeeda heard her mother talking to herself. She was playing nearby with a doll when she listened to her mother expressing her sadness. Although she was young, she recognised the grief behind the mother's tone. But she kept calm. She neither ran to her mother, nor did she comfort her. But Saeeda remembered her mother's lament.
The above incident took place in the morning. Few hours later, Saeeda discovered a spot in the courtyard where there was pale sunshine. It was in the late afternoon, and time was between three and six o'clock. It was the time when the sun is on its way to settle down. But Saeeda wasn't aware of all the science and theory behind time. She was merely happy thinking that she can put an end to her mother's sadness. And hence, Saeeda ran towards her mother with excitement. She told her mother about the place where she had found the sunshine.
But the elders at the house discarded Saeeda's suggestion. They weren't happy at the thought of Saeeda's mother stepping onto the courtyard. They felt that it was too late and chilly. Saeeda's mother was helpless. She had to follow the instructions of the elders. Besides, how can a child's idea survive against the elders'? So Saeeda went back to her doll with a sad face. She was dejected and felt terribly sad.
Saeeda was dejected and went back to her doll
Moreover, the sunrays were indeed retiring for the day. They were going back because the sun had almost set. She found the last set of rays in the top branches of the family mango tree.
Saeeda caught up with the last of the receding sunrays. Saeeda used a unique language to call out to the little ray. The author describes this language as something known only to the children. He calls it a secret language, and interestingly, they can talk to nature. The children can communicate with trees, flowers, animals, the sun, the moon, and even with God. Unfortunately, as they turn into adults, they forget the language. That is so because, as children, we tend to believe in the possibilities around us. However, as we grow older, our innocence and imagination are replaced with reasoning and intellect. It is not the latter is wrong, but rather that it essential that we strike a balance between both the sets of qualities.
Hence, when Saeeda spoke to the little ray in the secret language, the latter understood her. Addressing the ray as her dearest sister, Saeeda requested the ray to come the next day with a lot of warmth and brightness. She explained how her mother was very ill and needed the help of the rays to get better.
The little ray answered back. She promised to be back tomorrow and asked Saeeda to be happy.
Saeeda made a pact with the little ray
The next day arrived, and the sunrays were all set to go down to the earth. But then their father, the sun, appeared before them. He told them that they are not expected to be on the earth on that particular day. Since the rainy clouds have an earth duty and have occupied the skies like the previous days, the sun and his rays will stay in their home.
The little rays were disappointed. They had wanted to go down to earth very badly. Especially, given that they didn't have much of earth time during the previous days. The journey to earth is more like a picnic or an adventure to them. Although they weren't happy about the day's off duty, they decided to remain quiet and sit at home.
However, the little ray who had made a promise to Saeeda couldn't remain quiet. She told her father (the sun) that she has to travel down to earth. She told him about the promise she had made, and about how Saeeda's mother requires their help. The little ray was determined to keep her promise, and hence said that she would reach Saeeda’s courtyard by piercing through the clouds.
The little ray said it would pierce through the clouds
When the little ray had voiced out her decision, the rest of the rays joined her in the protest. They reminded the sun that they would be seen as liars by the humans if the sun and his rays do not keep their word.
Finally, the sun changed his mind and yielded to their request. However, he warned the little rays by saying that the path down to earth is blocked by clouds that are quite dirty, and that their clothes may get dirty. Hence, they should take care of themselves.
In response to the sun's warning about the clothes getting dirty, the rays said that they are not worried about the clothes. To them, and especially to the little ray, reaching Saeeda's courtyard is more important than their clothes. Besides, they can always change their clothes.
Soon after that, the rays rushed towards the earth. However, as the sun had warned, there was a troop of clouds standing between them and the earth. They were dark and were fat with all the rainwater in them. But the rays weren't afraid of the clouds, for they were determined to pass through the clouds no matter how.
The rays had plenty of heat in them. After all, they were the offspring of the sun. So, concentrating on their heat, the rays pushed forward through the clouds. The clouds weren't expecting the rays to be there, and hence, they were taken by surprise. The rays kept pushing their heat through the clouds to chase them all away. The clouds were confused, and before they knew what was happening, the rays descended to earth victoriously. In a moment, the sky turned bright and the earth turned warm.
Sky turned bright
Saeeda was waiting for the rays at her home. When she saw the rays approaching her house, she became elated. Her heart jumped in joy. She ran towards her mother, shouting in joy. She asked her to come out and explained to her that the sun has come out. The mother felt happy and grateful. Due to the overwhelming emotions in her, her eyes started getting filled with happy tears.
Saeeda was so happy seeing the sun that she ran to her mother with a happy face
Mother had her charpoy placed in the veranda. She then sat on it with her back supported by bolsters. It had been several months since Saeeda’s mother had felt sunlight on her skin and had breathed fresh air. She sat under the sun like that for an hour or so. She felt different and renewed. Though she was pale, her face glowed, and her eyes shone bright.
Saeeda, too, was enjoying the situation. She felt happy seeing her mother happy and comfortable. Besides, she was happy being under the sun with her mother. After all, the sunrays heeded her request and had come down to her courtyard. Although the day initially looked gloomy, it eventually brightened up.
Through the secret language, Saeeda summoned the sun at will. Similar to the message in the movie, "The Polar Express" (2004), which explains how 'the bell rings for those who believe', Saeeda's belief and her earnest request earned her the blessings of the sunrays.
Saeeda's mother looked at the happy face of her child and kissed her. A pleasant scent from nearby flowers filled the morning air. The birds were happy too because they filled the void with a new tune. It felt like Saeeda's mother was blessed with a new lease of life. Saeeda’s mother felt better already. It was a new beginning for both of them.
Mother kisses Saeeda
Time went by, and Saeeda's mother has recovered completely. But she still makes it a point to get sufficient sunlight and fresh air every day. Following the doctor’s advice, Saeeda’s mother sits in the sun for an hour every day. As the doctor had said, "sunshine and fresh air are more important than medicine.”