RIYADH: A tweet recounting a touching story from Ibrahim Assiri’s childhood generated quite a buzz on Feb. 7. The tweet was viewed three million times, according to Assiri. It got 24,200 likes and was retweeted 38,200 times, while 1,660 people left comments about it, or shared their own.
“Tonight, the owner of a mini-market, who taught me that willful disregard does not equate to stupidity, passed away. When I was a kid, I handed him a fragmented 10 riyal note with parts of a 1 riyal note taped to it. He smiled at me and said, “Wow! Eleven riyals!” My purchases cost 5 riyals, and he handed me back my 5 riyals change. With the confidence and audacity that only a child can project, I asked him for the remaining 1 riyal. It’s a memory I could never forget.” Assiri tweeted, late on the evening of the 7th.
Assiri told Arab News: “I spent my childhood in a southern village on the mountain, where the nearest city was at least an hour away. Uncle Amer’s mini-market and all the candy it offered represented a paradise to a child with the limited imagination of someone who’s never set foot out of the village.”
“No matter the terrible state my riyals were in, and how I’d continue with my mischievous act, Uncle Amer never turned me or any other child away. Seeing our victorious smiles at having ‘tricked’ him brought him as much joy as it did us, in spite of the losses we were unintentionally causing him.”
Assiri found a mangled 10 riyal note inside a box, almost shapeless, and with youthful mischief, and knowing that Amer would not reprimand him, he taped parts of the 1 riyal note to the missing parts of the 10 riyals. “To my surprise, the kind man accepted it with a smile.”
“It’s been over 30 years since. When I heard about his passing, I could still taste the sweetness of the candy he used to sell, and I recalled his unwavering kindness and forgiveness.” Assiri expressed his grief, saying he wept for the loss as though it was his father who had died.
“I think people reacted to the story this strongly because it dwelled on human nature and morality of the gentle store owner. Or perhaps because it touched upon suppressed childhood memories that we’ve overlooked as we grew up. Telling my story showed me many in my country had their own Uncle Amer, and his store is but a symbol to countless others. He resides for ever in the consciousness of Saudis born in the 70s and 80s.”