Eternal Success Syllabus

The Flat Tyre

When Bilal opened the door to get his bicycle out of the garage, he heard an unfamiliar sound. Someone was crying. He could feel their sadness and desperation in each decibel. He pulled on his helmet, hopped onto the seat and as his feet pushed the pedals his hands steered him out of his driveway and towards the sound. He whispered his travelling duaa as he set off down the street.

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ لَنَا هَذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لَهُ مُقْرِنِينَ وَإِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا لَمُنْقَلِبُونَ

Subhana-alladhi sakh-khara la-na hadha wa ma kunna la-hu muqrinin. Wa inna ila Rabbi-na la munqalibun.

Glory unto Him Who created this transportation, for us, though we were unable to create it on our own. And unto our Lord we shall return.

As he rode down the pavement he saw Mrs Ayotunde out early watering her flowers. She returned his smile as the water trickled down onto the thirsty peonies at her feet. The source of the crying was getting closer as he reached the last house on the street. He then saw who it was coming from. Sat behind the bins to his left was a boy a little younger than himself, with floppy light brown hair and large water filled eyes. He was sobbing so much he didn’t even notice Bilal’s curious gaze. At his feet was a bicycle not dissimilar to Bilal’s own and the front wheel was very flat.

“Assalaamo’alaikum Ruslan!” Bilal cried as he dismounted his own bicycle and came to crouch besides the troubled boy. Ruslan stopped suddenly as he noticed his neighbour’s presence before him. He had been so absorbed in his own grief he hadn’t even noticed the attention he had attracted.

“Is everything ok uka?” Bilal asked, using the Uzbeki word for little brother which Ruslan’s grandmother had taught him.

“Alhammdulillah aka. I am just very frustrated and I don’t know what to do. My tyre is flat and I can’t fix it myself and my ota is away for work for a few days and cannot help me.”

Bilal rubbed his friend’s shoulder comfortingly and took a second to look at the damaged bicycle. The front tyre was indeed unusable and the whole bike looked very worn down. Paint was peeling off, the metal spokes looked rusty and when he reached forward to ping the little bell on the handlebars, he realised it no longer worked.

“Alhammdulillah. Allah is the best of planners. We can figure this out together inshaAllah. You are not alone! I know some good will come from this, we just don’t know what the good is yet.”

Ruslan smiled and stood up with a glimmer of hope. “Of course! Bilal you have a bicycle! You must have a bike pump!” Bilal shuffled uncomfortably, remembering well the time he left his precious bike pump in the park, despite his uncle’s repeated reminders to put it in his bag.

“Well no, not exactly. But there are lots of people we know on this street. I’m sure one of them will have one! Let’s ask your Grandma if we can go ask them.”

Bilal listened without comprehension as the little boy pleaded in Uzbeki with the elderly lady who was sat peeling potatoes in their living room. Eventually she nodded and with one last smile at Bilal she returned to her task.

“She says you have to come have lunch with us afterwards so I can say thank you properly. We are having delicious Dimlama! Meat and veg stew!”

The two friends walked side by side down the street, pushing the deflated bicycle between them.

The first house they called at was Aunty Yaseen’s. She had lots of grandchildren who were always playing on bicycles and scooters in her garden so surely she must have a bicycle pump. She listened carefully to their request before putting a fresh samosa in each of their hands and apologising. “The garage key is missing” she explained. “And that is the only place we keep the pump.”

“Alhammdulillah,” said Bilal. “That’s the first great thing we got out of this flat tyre. A scrumptious samosa!” They sat on the garden wall and gobbled down their steaming treats while they pondered on the next house to visit.

Eventually they agreed that their friend Ahmad’s house would be a good idea. Ahmad was older now so he didn’t come out to play on his bicycle like he used

to, but surely he had saved his pump for when his younger brother was old enough to use it.

“Sorry boys,” said the tall boy, running his fingers through his newly grown beard. “I gave my bicycle and pump to my cousins in Bradford. I am studying for my exams at the moment otherwise I would be going to visit them this week.”

Ruslan shook his head and thanked the older boy before turning to go further down the street.

“Alhammdulillah,” said Bilal. “It was nice to see Ahmad after so long. I can’t wait till I have a beard and lots of important things to do like him!”

Ruslan looked hurt.

“Oh uka! I didn’t mean your bicycle isn’t important. I am enjoying helping you and I really want you to find a solution, I just mean I can’t wait till I’m older too!”

“Me neither,” replied Ruslan, cheering up as he noticed a green car crawling down the street. “Look aka! It’s Jozef and the twins! They are on their bicycles almost every day in the summer holidays! Let’s catch them before they get inside.”

The two boys ran as fast as they could without dropping the bicycle between them until they reached the stone paving outside Jozef’s house. The boy and his sisters leapt out of the car excited to see their friends. After greeting one another, Bilal decided to ask them if they had a bike pump for his young friend to borrow.

“Yes!” cried Jozef. “Come on!”

He raced excitedly to his garden shed and flung open the door. The boys gasped as a cloud of dust emerged and saw the array of objects inside. There were gardens tools, old footballs, picnic rugs and cleaning products.

“It’s in here somewhere,” he said, rummaging around.

Suddenly they heard a loud shout from the house behind them. “Jozef! Come here right now! What is this mess in your bedroom?!”

Jozef gulped as his aunty appeared in the doorway. “Sorry boys,” she said. “Your bikes will have to wait till tomorrow. Shut the shed and come inside. Now!”

Jozef apologised to the stunned companions, hurriedly shut the door and ran inside.

The only thing louder than the slamming door was Ruslan clearing his throat.

“Alhammdulillah,” he cried confidently. “There must be some good in this too. Allah can see what we can’t. Allah has a plan we don’t know about. I feel hopeful because we got so close!”

Both boys were tired and hungry so after telling Bilal’s mum what they were doing, they headed back to Ruslan’s house for some delightful dimlama. As they finished their meal, Ruslan’s grandmother rushed into the room talking hurriedly. “We have to go pick up my sister”, Ruslan explained. “She has epilepsy and she had a seizure at her friend’s house so she wants to come and rest and she will be really upset if I’m not there.” Bilal hugged the worried young boy energetically and promised that they would resume their search the next day inshaAllah. He made duaa for Ruslan’s little sister and thanked his grandmother for the wonderful stew.

As he cycled back to his own house he saw Jozef running excitedly down the street.

“Sorry about that! I left such a mess in the morning my aunty was really upset with me but because I apologised and tidied up so well she gave me this and told me to come find you!”

The sun glinted off the object in Jozef’s hand as though it was carrying a light of it’s own. It was a can of spray paint and in his other hand were two masks.

“Turns out we lent the pump to someone but aunty said you should paint his bike because all the colour is faded and yours too. So I thought we could do that until he get’s a pump?”

“Alhammdulillah!” shouted Bilal, unable to contain his excitement. “Ruslan is going to be so excited when he sees his newly painted bike!”

“And his new bell!” said a familiar voice behind them. Ahmad was there waving a shiny blue bell in front of them. “I felt so bad I couldn’t help with the pump,” he said. “But I found this for you! By the looks of it Bilal, you need a bell too!”

Ahmad was right, Bilal’s bell had fallen off a long time ago and he missed it dearly. They thanked the older boy as Bilal explained to Jozef that it was unlikely Ruslan’s father would be able to help him soon and his grandparents would be busy with his sister as she rested. As they parted ways a funny feeling was in Bilal’s stomach as he remembered the tears of the young boy earlier that day.

The next day Bilal’s breakfast was interrupted by a loud banging on his door. “Aka! Aka! Aka Bilal!”

He opened the door to a jubilant Ruslan mounted on his freshly painted bike, ringing the bright bell. Both wheels were fully pumped and he looked somehow bigger as he sat astride it with joy.

“Alhammdulillah aka Bilal! Do you know who did this? Who fixed my bike so beautifully? I want to thank them!”

“Allah knows,” replied Bilal. “And I am so happy for you. InshaAllah in a few days we can ride together. Have fun uka!”

He watched with a gigantic smile as his friend sped off down the street. Then he walked to his garage where an old bike was leaning against the wall with a flat tyre. He smiled again, shut the garage door and went back inside.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”