Children like to copy their favorite character. They imagine themselves to be like that person when they get big. Like this, a young boy , the main character of the story, “A Handful of Dates”, by Tayeb Saleh, imagine himself to be like his grandfather, when he get big. The story describes the childhood of a young boy, who does the things children typically do, go to school, attend religious services, plays outside, and spends time with his favorite family member, his grandfather.
Although the boy loves his grandfather and considers him as a great man, the boy realizes, through his treatment of his neighbor Masood, that he is a greedy man, and doesn’t like him anymore. Early in the story, the boy loves nature. The boy loves to go to the mosque every morning to learn Quran.
He also loves to swim in the river and play in the field. The boy says, “The mosque, the river, and the fields – these were the landmarks in our life”(p-1,para-1).He also says, “…I loved the river too”(p1,para-2).In other words, the boy love the river as well as his village nature. The boy was idealistic about his grandfather and wanted to be like him. His relationship with his grandfather was very close.
The boy says, “I loved to give rein to my imagination and picture myself a tribe of giants living behind that wood, a people tall and thin with white beards and sharp noses, like my grandfather”(p-1,para-2).In his imagination he thinks about his grandfather, and says, “ when I grew to be a man, tall and slender like him, walking along with great strides”(p-1,para-2).He thinks himself to be like his grandfather when he gets big.
As the story begins, the boy notices his grandfather doesn’t like their neighbor Masood. In a conversation he asked his grandfather that why he doesn’t like Masood. His grandfather answered that Masood is lazy person that’s why he doesn’t like him. “He’s an indolent man and I don’t like such people”(p-2,para-5). Moreover, grandfather also said that Masood married more than one time and every time he got married, he sold some part of his property.
“ Masood, my boy, was a much married man. Each time he married he sold me a feddan or two”(p- 3,para-14).The boy was thinking and made a calculation that may be Masood married more than ninety women, and then remembered that he had three wives and asking himself many questions. At the end of the story the boy realizes that his grandfather wasn’t that kind of person which he thought. According to the boy’s grandfather, he will buy all of the Masood’s property before he dies. Long time ago when the grandfather first came in the village he didn’t had any property.
Now two third of his property’s owner is grandfather. “…forty years ago all this belonged to Masood, two-thirds of it is now mine”(p-2,para-9). “… I think that before Allah calls me to Him I shall have bought the remaining third as well”(p-2,para-11).Grandfather also said to the boy that he will buy Masood’s remaining property before he dies. The boy was thinking of himself that why his grandfather doing that and felt sorry for Masood.
An inner conflict develops when he found his grandfather is greedy, which he should not be as a Muslim. When the grandfather said he will buy Masood’s remaining property, the boy was thinking of himself that his grandfather will do what he said, and felt sorry for Masood. “I do not know why it was I felt fear at my grandfather’s words-and pity for our neighbor Masood.
How I wished my grandfather wouldn’t do what he’d said !” (p-2,para-12). The boy learn from the Quran that people should be sympathetic to weaker section people of the society. Instead of that, his grandfather wants to buy Masood’s remaining property, which shows that he not the kind of person he should be as a Muslim. The boy begins to notice Masood at the harvest, and he feels sympathy for him.Masood invites the boy and his grandfather to harvest dates. At the harvest field the boy noticed Masood and thinking what his grandfather said about him.
“I remembered Masood’s remark to me when he had once seen me playing with the branch of a young palm tree: Palm tress, my boy, like humans, experience joy and suffering. And I had felt an inward and unreasoned embarrassment”(p-3,para-19).The boy remember, once he was playing with the palm tree Masood told him that palm trees are like human, which means Masood loves nature.