Zainab the Complainer
Zaina complained about everything. Her hair was too long, her arms were too short, her house was too big, her clothes were too small. There was nothing she wouldn’t complain about. At breakfast, while everyone ate and started their day, Zainab complained. I don’t want to eat this food, I don’t want to go to school, I hate this dress, the bus is too noisy, the teachers are too mean, the day is too long. Zainab please, said her mother. Stop complaining so much. But I can’t, said Zainab. There’s always something wrong.
Off she went to the bus stop. Oh it’s too hot out here. The bus is taking too long. My books are too heavy. I’m tired today and I just want to sleep. Where is that bus? All the children just stared and laughed. They were used to Zainab; she was always complaining about something. That’s why they called her Zainah the Complainah.
Zainab really didn’t mind being called a complainer. She had to complain. There was ALWAYS something wrong. Finally the school bus is here, she thought. I want to get on first to get the best, most comfortable seat. Zainab loved to sit up front, right in back of Mr. Dali the bus driver.
Good morning Zainab. Good morning Mr. Dali. Ohh! This seat is too cold! She cried. She took off her backpack and sat on it. Now it’s too hard! Finally settling down, the bus headed for the school. Up and down and up and down. This is one bumpy ride, Zainab complained. Can you turn on the air, it’s too hot. Mr. Dali smiled, and switched on the air. Now it’s too cold! She exclaimed. Oh Zainab, why do you complain so much? Too much for such a pretty girl. Because there’s always something wrong! The whole bus shouted teasingly.
When they arrived at school Zainab went to her class and took her seat. Good morning class, said the teacher. Good morning said the class. Everyone except Zaina, that is.Why aren’t you saying good morning ,asked Mrs. Abed. Because it is not a good morning. I’m cold, and tired, and my chair is too hard, the bus was too hot, my breakfast was cold, and my books are too heavy. Oh my, said Mrs. Abed, that’s too bad. You really are having a bad start.
Zainab, said Mrs. Abed, why don’t you try changing what is wrong rather than complaining about it? Well that’s no fun, said Zaina. If I fixed everything that was wrong. What would I have to complain about? Shaking her head, Mrs. Abed went to the chalkboard.
Today were going to talk about growing up. Growing up, Zainab thought. I don’t want to grow up, growing up is too hard. There are too many chores to do, too much work, too little sleep, not enough time, she went on and on and on. Suddenly class was over and she hadn’t heard a thing. Oh no, what am I going to do now? I complained through the entire class!
On the way home Zainab saw a little kitten lying in the cool grass. Poor kitty she thought, you look so lonely. Maybe I can be your friend.. She picked up the kitten and began to stroke its soft furry back. Oh you are so dirty, and you don’t smell very good. Suddenly the kitten looked up, meowed and ran away. Hmm, thought Zaina. Further down the street was a sad-faced dog tied to a pole. Hello dog. You look so lonely. Maybe I can be your friend. She began to pet the dog’s soft fur coat. Oh you are so big, I bet you eat a lot, and bark too much, you need a bigger leash, and you ears are too small for such a big dog. The dog began to howl and yelp and pull away from Zaina. Hmm. She thought.
When she got home, mother had prepared a big meal of lamb, chicken, vegetables and all kinds of sweets. I’ll just have these, she said. Pointing to the sweets of course. Zainab! called mother. Not before dinner. But I’m hungry! she cried. I ‘ve had a long day. The bus was too cold, then too hot, my books were too heavy, my breakfast was cold, and.. Stop complaining so much. No one wants to be around a complainer. But I always complain because.. I know, mother cut in. Because there’s always something wrong.
Off she went to her room. She lay across the bed and wondered to herself. Why DO I complain so much? I always complain, she complained. Oh no, now I’m complaining about complaining!
Just then, in walks Yasmin her sister. Hello Zainab. Hi. She said dryly. What’s wrong? I’m always complaining, said Zainab. I don’t mean to complain, but something’s always wrong, and nobody understands, and the bus was too cold, and the books were too heavy and.. She was doing it again.
Zainab, you just complain too much. You’re Zainab, the Complainer, her sister teased. One day you’ll see that no one likes to be around a complainer. But why? I think that’s mean, people shouldn’t be that way. Why do they say I complain? Maybe I do sometimes, but not all the time. It’s not my fault that the weather’s too hot, and the bus is too cold, and the books are too heavy, and my breakfast was cold, there is too much work and not enough time, and my arms are too short, and my legs are too long, my clothes are too small and my hair is too thin. It’s not my fault! There is always something wrong! When Zainab finished complaining she noticed that she was all alone in her room. Even Yasmin had left her.
Zaina thought and thought. I have got to stop complaining. She’d made up her mind that today she would not complain about anything. Today, then tomorrow, then the next day, and the next. She would try her best not to complain. The next morning for breakfast there were pancakes, beef sausage, syrup, and chocolate milk. I hate chocolate milk, she thought, but I won’t complain. All through breakfast there was not one complaint. Are you feeling well? Mother asked. Yes, I feel fine. Why? Just, just asking, mother said.
After breakfast Zaina got dressed, combed her hair and readied herself for school. My hair is so. So nice! She said. She remembered not to complain about her hair being too thin. Are you alright? asked Yasmin. Yes. Why? Just asking, she said.
At the bus stop all the children pointed and said: Hey here comes Zaina. Zaina the complainah they laughed. This time she pretended not to hear them. She did not complain about being too hot, or too cold. She just stood there waiting for Mr. Dali’s bus. Soon the bus pulled up, a small boy rushed in front of Zaina, and sat in her favorite seat. Mr. Dali braced himself for Zaina’s complaints; but she just sat in another seat by the window.
Are you too hot Zaina? No. Too cold? No. Are you sick? No. Mr. Dali was confused. He had never seen this new Zaina. Zaina smiled to herself and thought, this isn’t so hard after all.
Later in Mrs. Abed’s class, she sat quietly and listened carefully. Are you alright? asked Mrs. Abed. Yes, said Zaina. Do you feel well? I feel fine. I think I should send you to the nurse to check your temperature. Mrs. Ahmedi the nurse, checked her temperature, said she was fine, and sent her back to class. Mrs. Abed was puzzled. Maybe I’ll call your mother.
Later that evening Mrs. Abed called Zaina’s mother and told her that something was wrong with Zainab. What did she do? Her mother asked. Nothing, said Mrs. Abed. She did nothing at all. No complaints at all. None? asked Zainab's mother. None., said Mrs. Abed.
After dinner, mother decided to go up and talk to Zainab. Are you sure you’re alright? I’m fine. No complaints? No. Not at all. Zainab, what has come over you? Have you grown up? I guess so, Zainab smiled. I have nothing to complain about. What about the cold bus? I wore a sweater. What about the bumpy ride? I’ve got my fluffy pillow. The heavy books? Two book bags! Your thin hair? A ponytail! Zaina exclaimed. Mother was amazed. Instead of complaining you fixed it.
So I guess you’re no longer Zainab the Complainer. But why not? asked Zainab. I like that name. Why can’t you still call me that? Don’t you like that name? Aren’t I still your little complainer? Why are you smiling? I’m cold. Where’s my blanket?
Well, smiled mother. I guess you are STILL my little complainer- at least sometimes. I guess I really CAN’T stop complaining altogether, Zaina smiled.
After all, you are Zainab the Complainer, mother laughed.
© Copyright 2017 Yasmiin Alkitaab. All rights reserved.
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