Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, October 19, 2006

Snapshots

It was that time of the year. Eid stretched, yawned, and fastened its crescent shaped monocle, peering down on the clutter that is Dhaka.

“Time for my annual patrol”
It slowly descended into the city. The streets were eerily empty; the bulk of the traffic-makers having sought out greener pastures for their celebrations. Eid stretched its legs with a happy sigh.
“Plenty of space tonight…let's see about that entry theme…”

Romjaner oi rojar sheshe elo khushir…..poof!
Without the slightest warning, the microphone went silent, and the lights went out. A bewildered Eid stood blinking in the middle of the darkened road. For a few seconds, there was an unearthly silence…and then the ground shuddered with the collective roars of generators being started up, and someone muttered “Blasted power cuts!”

“Right…okay…time to start making the rounds.”
Eid entered the first building and floated up the stairs and wafted through the doors of a random apartment…only to be blinded by something dazzling.

The Happy Shopper
“That's odd. I'm sure I heard a gasp somewhere. Ah well, I must be hearing things. Lord knows I've heard that reaction enough times this week. Every time I mention my Eid outfit this year, in fact. I mean, it's just a Tk 5 lakh sari, for heaven's sake. What was I to do? Let someone else buy it, and be the center of attention? Hmm…I wonder if this necklace goes with this…it's so difficult to keep track of all the advice these fashion-and-style supplements dish out! Not that I'd be able to do without them; where else would I know where the sales were?

Oh dear, I better go check to see if the living room is ready yet. It certainly cost a bundle to give it a totally new look!”
*
Having adjusted to the glare of the woman's festival finery, Eid decided to move on to the next room. The door was slightly ajar, and the faint notes of music poured out through it, which promised to be a better experience than the shopaholic's prattle about her buys.

Jaded
“I hate Eid. In fact, whenever I think that my life simply couldn't get any worse, all I have to do is remember this one occasion to prove myself wrong. And if it wasn't already one of the silliest and most boring social occasions (actually all of these social occasions more or less have these qualities), it seems to have become even worse in the last few years. On top of it all, this year it had to ruin what little fun I had left in my life by coinciding with birthday! So now instead of going out with my friends to either Boomers or Sports Zone, I have to stay home and spent one whole God forsaken day with my relatives who have nothing better to do than to come for a 'visit' to our house (which basically involves the elders sitting together and embarrassing themselves by cracking the lamest possible jokes, trying to 'fit in with the younger generation' and in every other way they can and leaving the little ones to irritate me to death). Things could have been just a bit better if it wasn't for the stupid TV programs they have for Eid. I mean, don't they get tired of singing the same old song every year? Not to mention the pathetic attempts they make to make people laugh. It was not all that bad when I was younger; at least I was on the receiving end of the salamis. Now I have to give away all of what I get from my elders to the younger ones in the family. With the best part (or rather, the relatively better part) of Eid gone from my life, I just look forward to another boring and miserable day of my pathetic life.”

*
Shaking its head, Eid let its gaze wander around the room, till it noticed an open window on the boy's computer screen.

On e-mail
Hey man!
My Eid predictably sucked. I actually forgot this was Eid! There are a very few Muslims in my campus and you see them only rarely. I had to get up early in the morning and run to the dining-hall to start my work-study, which to complete my already sufficiently de-glorified life was washing dishes to pay for my college tuition. I wasn't feeling bad though. I didn't even know today was Eid! Then I met Marwan, a Moroccan friend of mine who was unfortunate enough to be stuck as a dish washer too and he was the first one to enlighten me on that 'surprising' news. My Eid thus started wearing aprons and exchanging greetings with a Moroccan I didn't even know. Well, that's life and it was my decision coming here anyway.

Luckily I did have some casual Muslim friends and some good friends who knew that Muslims weren't all into silent contemplation and did have fun. But we all had a problem -we were stuck in a random place with nothing 'Eidsy' going on. There was supposed to be a small ceremony near by at the local Muslim community and we strolled over there and had some 'Muslim' food and said exchanged “Eid Mubarak”. It was nostalgic as well as relieving to know that you are spending Eid among complete strangers but who atleast knew what Eid meant. Afterwards with a complete lack of predefined plan on what to do, we simply went to Boston and had our favorite food- sushi to mark of the end of the glorious Eid! I missed the traditional food, the salamis (perhaps I missed that the most), the new dress and simply being there with my family in the holy day of Eid.

*
The bell rang at that moment, dragging Eid's attention away from the boy. It followed the sounds of laughter and greeting and shrieks of joy, and ventured out of the room, only to be bowled over a pint-sized hurricane.

The Salami Brat
“Where is Uncle? Ah, there he is. And what is that I see?? Is that a five hundred note, or is it a hundred taka note? Wait…oh no, I better hurry, otherwise I will get only fifty taka note, just because I am young. I hope Aunty gives me salami too, and his Grandfather, grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins, their relatives and anyone related to my friend but older than me. But anyways, once I get all the money, this time I will buy the big Kit Kat bar that I saw yesterday, and eat it all by myself. I won't give it to anyone else, well, except for my friend's big brother. Otherwise he won't give me any salami. There…there he is!”

*
Disgusted with the lack of true festive spirit, Eid stormed out of the building to go home. And promptly tripped over a small, shivering bundle crouched on the pavement.

The street urchin
“If Eid is about wearing new clothes and eating good food, then the first one in my life is yet to come. For me, every day is basically like the one before, and Eid is no exception. There was even one particularly unlucky Eid when I didn't have anything to eat the whole day; just like a roja.

The maulana shahib at the Friday prayers said it is forbidden to stay roja on an Eid day. But this year's Eid might be a bit different. I had plenty of things to pick off the streets during Ramadan, which I sold, and I have saved 17 taka for the Eid day! I will buy a toast biscuit for the dog in the stadium and a bottle of coke for myself. I have never tasted coke and now I am going to have one bottle all by myself, just like Shahrukh Khan on TV. Eid this year will not be so bad after all.”

*
So there it was…Eid through the eyes of the Dhakaites. Some remembered the spirit of the season, some had forgotten, and others never had a chance to experience it. Here's hoping our readers have a wonderful festive season. Eid Mubarak from the RS Team!

By Sabrina F Ahmad, Zeeshan B Rahman, Tausif Salim, Golam Rezwan Khan and
Asifur Rahman Khan

   

 
 

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