Memories of Eid and ‘Dipu Number Two’
Whether it be nation-wide rituals, or sitting around a dining table with delectable family delicacies—celebrations find a way to glue communities together. What can be a better example than the joyous occasion of Eid? And with the joy of Eid comes the joy of reading books. With Ramadan as a month of reflection, leading up to the celebratory festivities of Eid, books seem to encompass the diverse world of both enjoyment and reflection. I have many happy memories of pretending to decline Eidi from my elders, only to be secretly elated because it meant I could purchase more books. I recall how I hid my salami money from my mother, so that she wouldn't spend it all even after promising me that the money was all mine. Throughout the tapestry of my life, Eid and books had become entwined. And it all started when I spent an exhilarating journey one Eid vacation with Dipu Number Two.
One of my most vivid memories growing up was discovering the joys of reading during one train journey to Rajshahi. I was about 12 or 13 and had just started to get a sense of who I was as a person, with my individual quirks and nuances. I moved around owing to the nature of my father's job, and therefore I struggled with establishing any firm roots.
A school that I had just moved to was about to break for Eid vacations. Back then, Ramadan was a joyous and inaccessible event—I was not yet allowed to fast full time. Before breaking off towards the childish wonders of summer/Eid vacations, our school had issued us with an assignment during our time off. We were given a choice of books, among which we had to pick one and write a well-constructed book review. In our 12-year-old minds, this was nothing but a nuisance. But we welcomed it with our child-like obedience anyway.
I chose Muhammad Zafar Iqbal's Dipu Number Two, published in 1984. Now, why I chose this book, I couldn't tell you. This was the only book in Bangla, and I hadn't read any Bangla books up to that point in time. I guess the only way I could justify the decision was that it fascinated me enough to overcome my fear of it. And so, I went on an epic, month-long journey with the book.
And it was an arduous one. I had difficulty understanding a lot of phrases and words. Lord knows I bothered my parents enough with questions, to the point where they started regretting my school's ingenious method to get children to read more. We had travelled to Rajshahi, my hometown, via train that Eid, and I read the entire ride to our destination. I pictured Dipu's escapades with his friend and bully, Tarique. I found solace in knowing that Dipu moved around a lot as well because of his father's job. On Eid day, when I wasn't exchanging pleasantries with relatives I had never met before, I peeled myself away to read. As my paternal grandfather's house swarmed with guests all around, I could only envision Dipu's adventures in my head. It was like my very own secret escapade, me and Dipu Number Two against the world!
Now I am 26 years wiser, and a lot of transitions have popped up unexpectedly in my life. In the last year or so, I transitioned into work life full time. Ramadan has lost some of its lustre, and Eid vacations are incredibly numbered. I have gone from receiving Eidi to handing them out—still navigating the limbo between what amount is acceptable and what isn't. But once my very first Eid bonus came through on my bank account, I was instantly transported back to that pristine childhood memory. Transitioning into adulthood is difficult; it is perhaps the most difficult thing I have had to do. But maybe all was not lost. So, I decided to help soothe my transition with an all-time companion—the one who has yet to leave my side when things get rough.
And so, when my office finally broke off for Eid vacation this year, I went to my nearest ATM booth and I withdrew an acceptable amount of money. I hopped on the bus to a nearby bookstore and I bought an immaculate edition of Dipu Number Two—an Eid gift to myself, from myself. In the midst of a million transitions, some easy and some hard, but all necessary and inevitable, I hold my adult copy of Dipu Number Two firmly. It is comforting, like a warm hug, to know that Dipu's adventures will accompany me on my Eid break so many years later once again. Who knows, maybe we bookworms have a separate metric for measuring our life experiences and special occasions. All I know is that books have satiated a missing core delight in my life, and have made the joyous occasion of Eid celebratory once again.
Tasnim Naz has an endless love of literature, both inside and outside the classroom in which she teaches. Reach her at [email protected].