<%-- Page Title--%> Impressions <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 131 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

November 21, 2003

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Childhood Eid Revisited

Shamim Ahsan

Most adults would agree that Eid during their childhood was a whole lot sweeter than it is now. It's almost impossible to look forward to Eid with the same, now that childhood is long gone by. Eid is now just another day, except for those of you for whom a full-day-long sleep is enough to make it special.

In those childhood days the countdown for Eid started as early as the beginning of Ramadan. We never counted how many rojas had passed, we calculated how many days away the Eid was. Every day gone by meant Eid came closer by another day. As it came near and nearer, our excitement grew all the more intense. Days were spent making plans -- i.e. what we would do, where we would go, when we would wear which dress etc. Nights were spent revising the same plans in our dreams. The three-days long programme, starting from the Eid day, was meticulously worked out -- Children's Park via the ice-cream parlour in Elephant Road on Eid day, zoo, via the national museum the next day after Eid, Botanical Garden or Sangsad Bhaban with plenty of chatpati, phuchka breaks in between and so on. The excitement level rose to a peak on chand raat that Eid was only a night away made sleep hard to come by. But how sweet were those sleepless moments.

Among other Eid plans shopping certainly featured prominently. In school between two classes, there were hectic discussions regarding the hot items in the market. Someone would excitedly announce the arrival of “Jump keds” while someone else would talk about “Pearsons shirts”, the latest hit. However, till then our idea of Eid presents for us boys were limited to shirt, trousers and shoes. Bodiul, one of my classmates, was first to enlighten us with the knowledge that Eid presents did not necessarily mean those things only. It was the Eid when we were in class IV. It was the first day of our school after the Eid vacation and we were all shining in our new get up. But when Bodi casually showed his own Eid present our short-lived glory quickly deflated. It was a Casio watch, which not only had a light to see time in the dark, but, most surprisingly to our young minds was the fact that, it would suffer no damage even if it was dropped into the sea and brought back. We never forgave him for making us burn with envy for a long time after that Eid.

One unbreakable rule of Eid was that your Eid present could not be shown before the Eid day. The Highest level of secrecy was maintained in this regard. The idea was 'Eid presents become old once others have been before the Eid day.' But mothers, disrespectful and insensitive to their children's principles, often spoilt everything by showing our presents to others. Pappu's mother committed this mistake one year, causing serious damage to his ability to safeguard the 'newness' of his Eid gift.

The Eid prayer was another of our major concerns. Saying Eid prayer at Eidgah or Baitul Moquarram was considered a remarkable achievement and those few, who were fortunate enough to go there, made sure that everyone else heard every bit of their splendid experience. I, who could never make it to those grand Eid prayers, had to be content with the same old local mosque.

The highlight of this most important childhood festival came after the Eid prayers when we would all go to my friend Mizan's house. Mizan's father, a wealthy contractor, used to be the first man to receive our kodombuchci (touching of the feet to show respect). It was never known how he felt about it -- I mean to become the first victim of our hunt for Eidi -- but that suited us all the better. He would give each of us a glossy, shinning one-hundred taka note. The moment we secured our first salami into our pockets we remembered the wise saying -- “Your first salami determines the rest of the day”, a derivative from 'morning shows the day'.






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