Everyday Mido walked the same streets in Luxor. Luxor used to be the place for the kings and queens of Egypt. Now it was the place for Mido and his family.
He saw the same people. When they saw him, the people would wave and say, “Asalamu Alaykom, ya Mido”.
Mido was a quiet boy and wouldn’t always answer back with his voice. He would give a shy little smile instead.
He didn’t like going to pick up chickens. Those chickens always made a lot of noise. He had to pick up three chickens for the Friday dinner.
There was a big crowd waiting for the butcher to help them.
Mido would have to wait too. He zipped his jacket. It was cold.
As he waited, he watched the rabbits on top of the crate.
One rabbit seemed to like him. Mido reached out and petted the white fur. The rabbit fur was so soft.
The longer Mido waited, the more he grew to like his new friend.
It almost seemed like the rabbit understood him.
Rabbits were different from chickens.
In Luxor, people could eat rabbit meat if they wanted. It was halal.
Mido’s family didn’t eat rabbit. Mido tried to think if he’d ever eaten rabbit. He couldn’t remember.
Mido reached his hand into his pocket and felt the pound coins.
He had enough to buy three chickens. He didn’t have enough to buy a rabbit too.
When it was his turn to talk to the butcher, he found himself asking, “How much is the rabbit?”
When Mido walked away from the butcher, he was carrying two dead chickens and one live rabbit.
At first, it felt good to have the rabbit.
Then, he realized that having the rabbit meant having big trouble at home.
What would his mother say?
Mido’s mother was busy in the kitchen.
She usually was busy in the kitchen because Egyptians love to eat.
Today she was making mashy by stuffing cabbage leaves with rice.
Mido loved mashy. It tasted so good when it was cold outside.
“Good, you’re here!” his mother called. Do you have the chickens?”
“I have the chickens,” he said, but then that felt like a lie. “Well, I don’t have all the chickens.”
His mother looked surprised. “What happened?”
Mido knew he had to tell the truth, “I bought two chickens and one rabbit.”
He then unzipped his jacket and showed the rabbit hiding there.
Mido lay on the dirt floor with his rabbit.
It was his rabbit now.
His mother agreed that he could keep the rabbit for a while. She saw Mido’s big smile and couldn’t say no.
His father was less understanding.
“You dog! You have to listen to your mother! You think that I drive tourists around all day to buy rabbits? What is a rabbit going to do for us? Does a rabbit lay eggs?”
“I’m sorry, Dad.”
“Sorry doesn’t feed the rabbit.”
“I’ll give the rabbit some of my food,” Mido offered.
“Do you understand that the rabbit is meat?”
“I don’t want to eat Habiba.”
“Who is Habiba?”
Mido’s father started to laugh, “You named the rabbit Habiba?”
Mido’s father didn’t stop laughing for a long time. Egyptians like to laugh.
“Alright. You can keep the rabbit and feed it what we throw away.”
Mido started to hug his father.
“When the rabbit is big enough, we’ll eat it.”
Mido pulled away, “I won’t eat it. Mom doesn’t even know how to cook rabbit.”
His father tried not to smile at his son’s smartness. “She can learn and I’ll eat anything she cooks.”
For weeks, Mido tried to teach the rabbit how to behave in the house.
He thought that if the rabbit acted more like a cat, his family would agree to keep Habiba longer.
Cats sit still and sleep.
Rabbits hop around.
Cats keep clean.
Rabbits make a lot of mess.
Cats work catch mice.
Rabbit make you work for them.
Habiba made a lot of work for Mido.
She kept scratching the dirt floor.
Mido didn’t want his mother or father to see the mess so he had to hurry and clean it up quickly.
Just as quickly, Habiba would scratch more dirt away from the floor.
She was digging a hole.
Mido knew that a hole-digging rabbit was not good.
He had picked a bad rabbit.
He had gone against what his mother had told him.
He had made his father mad.
He slowly pet the soft fur.
Mido stared at the hole in the floor and wondered if he should let his mother cook his rabbit.
He was tired of cleaning up the mess.
Having the rabbit wasn’t as fun as he thought it would be. It was a lot of work.
Mido put down Habiba and started to push the dirt back into hole.
If his father saw the mess, he would be even madder.
Mido was tired of making his father mad.
Maybe it was time to be done with owning a rabbit.
Mido’s mind was as busy as his hands.
What should he do?
Quietly, he patted the dirt down.
He didn’t want his mother to hear.
It was turning dark.
Mido couldn’t see what he was doing very well.
His hand touched something hard in the dirt.
Had the rabbit buried something? Did rabbit bury things?
Was his rabbit a thief?
Mido started to dislike his rabbit even more.
As he dug out what the rabbit had buried, he wondered what the rabbit had stolen.
Was it one of his marbles?
He was missing one.
Mido dug and pulled.
It wasn’t a marble.
It was a ring.
The rabbit had stolen a ring from his mother and buried it.
Mido knew he had to tell his mother.
Mido’s mom was in the kitchen.
She was making the tomato sauce to pour over the fattah she had made with rice and bread.
Mido greeted her, “Asalamu Alaykom.”
His mother laughed, “Wa alaykom asalam. Listen to my little man greeting his mother with such good manners. You must have done something wrong.”
Mido lowered his head.
“It wasn’t me. It was my rabbit. She took your ring and tried to bury it in the floor.”
Mido’s mother stopped working and tried to understand what her son was saying.
Mido held up the dirty ring between his fingers for his mom to examine.
Mido’s mom came closer. There was a puzzled look on her face. She took the ring in her hand and turned it over again and again.
“Mido, where did you get this?”
“From my rabbit.”
“Where?” his mother’s voice was strange. She normally had lots of patience but she needed a quick answer right now.
“Over there.” Mido pointed to the dark corner of the room.
His mother ran to the spot, got down on her knees and rubbed her fingers around in the dirt.
She stopped for a moment and thought.
Suddenly, she took hold of Mido’s arms and pulled him closer.
“Mido, go lock the door.”
This time, Mido did as he was told. He didn’t know what she was thinking but he wanted to be good.
As he was walking back to her, she ran past to the kitchen.
She opened up a drawer and searched until she found a big metal spoon.
Mido watched in surprise as his mother began digging deeper in the dirt.
There was something there and she was going to get it out.
He wanted to talk to her but instead he stayed quiet and waited.
As she dug, she began to say Quran.
Whatever was happening was something serious.
The call to prayer began across the city.
Mido wondered if he should help his mother or do his prayers.
He then remembered that praying could actually help his mother. He could pray for help.
Mido washed and got the rug.
When Mido was done so was his mother.
He turned around to find his mother softly crying with the spoon in one hand and an earring in the other.
The earring was huge. Mido had never seen his mother wearing it.
“I’m sorry. Did the rabbit take that too?”
His mother laughed.
“No, Mido. Thank God for your rabbit. This isn’t something I lost. This is something the rabbit found.”
Mido’s eyes stared at the earring. It was old. It was very old.
“Is this from the Pharoah?”
“I don’t think it’s from the Pharoah but I don’t know. I think it’s all gold.”
Mido and his mother were still digging when his father got home.
They had found the other earring and a necklace.
No matter how much they dug, they never found any more.
They never ate the rabbit.