Ahmet is a seven-year-old boy who has hated bugs, especially ants, since he was five. His grandmother says, “Two years is a long time to hold on to hate.”
His grandpa on the other hand is calm, he says, “Ahmet will outgrow this in a very short time, he just needs to let a ladybug walk on his hand and poof, all the hate will be gone.”
His dad does not even know about Ahmet’s aversion to bugs. How could he? He is almost always on a business trip and when he is not, he is asleep on the couch or looking at his computer screen with half shut eyes.
His mum has tried everything she could think of. She took Ahmet to the only park in the city hoping he would see butterflies and stop hating bugs; made him touch her silk scarf before introducing him to a caterpillar and took him out to a garden by the Bosphorus in the evening, so that he could see the fireflies. Nothing really helped. He still hated bugs.
“Oh no! Not again!”Ahmet complained. “Not again!” he repeated. An ant was walking on his desk, it was an inch away from his cookie when he saw it.
He started screaming his lungs out. “Somebody help me. It will eat my cookie!”
His grandmother came rushing in and says, “Who will eat your cookie?”
“The ant!” the boy replied.
She leaned toward his desk and added, “But sweetie, I can’t see any ants here.”
His grandpa and his mum agreed. There were no ants on his desk and his cookie was intact. They suddenly lost interest and left the room because grownups are like that, they always have more important things to attend to.
“I wish my dad were here,” Ahmet said out loud. He would understand me. He is not like them.
“I wish my dad were here as well,” a tiny voice said in response. Ahmet was shocked. He thought cookies could not talk.
But it wasn’t his cookie talking; it was the ant. He was rolling a crumb away from the cookie plate.
“Leave my cookie alone!” Ahmet cried.
“You have the whole cookie to yourself! Why don’t you let me eat this tiny little piece?”
“Because it is not ant food! Cookies are human food.”
“My grandpa says,” replied the ant, “there used to be a garden here and the whole colony would feed on apples and apricots that would fall from the trees. But apparently they cut down all the trees and put buildings instead. Since then we have grown to like human food.”
The ant looked really hungry. Ahmet felt sad. “Ok, you can have as many crumbs as you like." The ant has eaten almost all of the crumbs on the table. Then, the two went to the living room to have a chat.
"Why are you alone? Where are your parents?”
“My mum is at home. You see the crack on the floor there? That is my home. But my dad has gone on a long trip. He says he will find a better place for us to move to. He has been saying that for a long time. He has been away for months. I really miss him.”
“I miss my dad too," Ahmet was tearing up and added, "look, I am sorry I screamed when I saw you.”
“That’s OK,” the ant replied. “My neighbour is a cockroach, people scream a lot when they see him. I am used to it.”
“Wait, what? A cockroach? Where?”
“Easy,” the ant said. “I am joking. There are no cockroaches here, only ants.”
“I don’t really know. Hundreds, I guess.”
“Hundreds? Are they all hungry?”
“Well, yes,” the ant sighed silently.
“You know what?” Ahmet said, “I will go to the kitchen now, get all the cookie and bread crumbs and put them outside my window on the sill. Tell all your friends soon there will be a feast on the windowsill.”
“Really?” The ant was dancing with joy.
“Yes. I am sorry for all the terrible things I said about your kind. You were here even before us, but we destroyed your garden. Don’t worry. I will always leave food on the windowsill. Your dad won’t have to leave you like mine.” This time Ahmet was crying.
The ant was speechless at first, but then he knew exactly what to say, “There is nothing a yummy cookie can’t fix. Come here, take your cookie and have a bite.”
Ahmet wiped his tears. “And you should start munching on your crumb,” he said.
The two started eating.
Fireflies, lady bugs and butterflies were flying in a garden far away.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” said Ahmet, “I will be right back.”
He went to the kitchen and came back with a lot of crumbs wrapped in a paper towel.