By Sabrina F Ahmad
"Therefore, to thy Lord turn in prayer and in Sacrifice. " (Nahr)-Al Quran, 108.2
In the family room, the voices on the television discussed religion.
"Qurbani is an Islamic prescription for the affluent to share their good fortune with the needy in the community."
The door opened, and the man of the house came in, wearing a perplexed frown. The wife looked up expectantly from the entertainment magazine she was reading.
"Done buying the livestock?"
"Yes. I got three bulls."
"Stock's limited this year, what with so many cattle dying in the storm last month. Prices are outrageous too"
"But...what will our neighbours say?"
"I don't think we need to worry. Given the recent events, keeping a low profile would be prudent, don't you think?"
She pouted prettily, twisting her be-ringed fingers in her sari, but knew his logic was irrefutable. Friends and former acquaintances had met with an overnight transformation in their fortunes when something as simple as a flashy car in their garage got the wrong kind of people asking too many questions.
"I suppose we can afford to make a few sacrifices this year" she sighed.
The young couple browsed the stores, checking out the clothing on display. Shelves and racks glittered with dazzling Bollywood chic outfits, with even more dazzling price tags.
"Afa, eita dekhen! Latesht Himesh Reshammiya design"
The store attendant held up a particularly gaudy sari, oddly named after a male artist. It spilled from his arm onto the low bench he was standing on. The bench was covered with a sheet of newspaper, and glancing towards it, trying to spot the price tag, their eyes alighted on a tiny photo peeking up at them. It showed the stricken face of a cyclone victim waiting for aid.
"You know what? I'm not really in the mood for something jazzy this year”
"Let's get something locally made. I hear some of the craft stores employ local weavers."
'I was thinking the same."
"Are you sure you wouldn't prefer one of those chiffons instead?"
"I think we can make a sacrifice for this year.”
The man trudged tiredly back home. His shopping bag was slack from his meagre purchases, and this he handed to his wife with a helpless shrug and a rueful look. Their son sitting in his room, colouring flags. With Victory day just a few days behind him, he'd been entranced by the sight of the green and red flags fluttering from rooftops, on cars and occasionally wrapped around someone's head, and had found a new interest. Seeing his parents come in, he followed them into the kitchen.
The mother saw him and smiled wanly.
"Baba...would you mind if we had a simple lunch tomorrow?"
"But it's Eid, Maa! You promised pulao!"
The father winced at the plaintive note in his son's voice. He was normally a very understanding child, but he still was a child, and considered Eid to be a special occasion. His wife squatted down to face the child.
“Baba, could you please make a little sacrifice this year?”
“You mean, like all the <>muktijoddhas<> in the war, who sacrificed their lives?”
“A little like that. You don't need to sacrifice your life, thank goodness, but do you think you could be a good boy and have plain rice for lunch tomorrow?”
The boy looked at his father's tired, pinched face, and the worry on his mother's. Ever since his newfound interest in the Liberation War, he had been pestering his teacher for stories about how people starved when they lost their farmlands, and how mothers and wives pinched pennies to keep their families fed on the meagre offerings in the market during the war.
“I suppose I could make a sacrifice” he said in a small, brave voice.
The two friends sat in silence on the roof, occasionally swatting at mosquitoes.
“Tell me about it.”
“Flood, cyclone, inflation, curfew, building collapse…”
“I didn't mean literally.”
“I can't wait for it to end.”
“Coming to the party tomorrow?”
“Can't. Family dinner.”
“What do you mean! All our friends are going to be there!”
“I know, mate. But this is family. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Speaking of family, I should run…I promised to help clean house.”
He watched her go, a selfish part of him wanting to call her back, to make her stay. But he knew how important her family was to her, even if they did cramp his style a lot. Eid, was all about family, in the end.
“I suppose I could make a little sacrifice…”