Once upon a time, Eid for me, was something to revel in. In the days of naive and pristine innocence, when I didn't have to obsess about global warming, river pollution, littering, or geting paranoid about swine flu or simply agitated because the fifth season of Grey's Anatomy has decided to choke its fans with tears and sadness, Eid, as I remember (with a certain degree of frustration and desperation) used to unravel in a season of mist and snug cold, and to a certain extent was a carnivalesque event.
Carnivalesque it was to me, because I had keen observation skills (that I barely put to use nowadays), with which I saw how Eid would sprout out people of all sorts in the street. I used to swallow the sights of people draped in garish and glittery outfits, oozing vibes of happiness and celebration, and it was a delight to me. As for me and my people, it was not only the occasion that mattered, but also the elaborate preparations that came with the festival. My mother used to buy my panjabi then, unlike now, when I no longer even feel the need to get one but still feel obliged to under the pressure of the whole spectacle. The night before Eid, the chaad raat, when, with much anticipation and excitement, we would spot the attenuated, diminutive moon and make wishes (a compulsory act according to my boro mami), and then began the myriad of activities that shrewdly conquered the peaceful ambiance of my home, transforming it into something of a fish bazaar (pardon the use of my clichés, since my imagination has considerably dwindled along with my childhood). Ammu all of a sudden, would go missing from in front of the television (her hearth) that hypnotised her by showcasing the annoyingly angelic Tulsi from a popular Hindi serial, her vibrant yet somewhat crumpled maxi would be a visible gash amid the smoke - laden kitchen. Cousins for some strange reason turned up at my door, to indulge in scribbling hands with henna (since none of them actually knew how to trace a proper design with henna) and deciding to wear same same the next morning or goofing around like messing up the sofas (that would be us boys) and playing our version of Vertical limit (the cushions would be our ice berg and float). Outside the house, the darkness of night seemed to dim a bit, given that people from every household would wave and swing taara baati and dazzle the verandas with the lustre of candle light. The night even smelt different: burnt carbon from the sparkle light, sweet aroma of Ammus polau and the sickening bitter mossy odour of the henna paste by then crispy and ready to display the orange hue underneath. Thus the night not only foreshadowed the following morning's celebration, but also turned synaesthetic for the commingling of so many small events.
I, for some reason, enjoyed attending the Eid prayers although I am not sure why given that it was only a congregation of men. Maybe because from this point on, the day unrolled, and as a kid I knew for a fact that after the tediously long namaaz I would go home to taste all sorts of ambrosia prepared by Ammu, neatly put in rows on table and of course who could suppress the impatience of bagging crunchy notes as blessings from the adults. The prayer was a unique experience because seeing the whole mass kneel down into a sezda used to give me a high. The moment when the whole mosque would magically transform into a barren floor (I used to try my best to kneel after a flick of a second later than everyone in the line) preceded by the muffled booming dulcet when thousands of knee caps touched the mosaic floor, that smelled of beetle leaf, aatoar and incense, somehow made me feel big and that was quite a thrill. Of course I couldn't be under constant euphoria for several reasons. The Imam, taking all the time in the world would cry his heart out (although it was quite difficult to spot any tear), he would scream, groan, howl, bark, moan and choke on the mike, puting kids like me into uncontrollable giggles . The misery had to continue till the time I stepped outside the mosque, when a horde of beggars, very much alike the zombies from I am legend (except the beggars wanted money and thankfully not your meat) would crumble right on you.
A lot remains intact, while a lot has changed. The Imam has mastered the art of incantations, people in the street still continue to dress up with all the galore, and the festivity has increased dauntingly as days have passed. I however, seem to find Eid a little mundane for my taste now, because I have 'grown up', and like all other grown ups, the ever green 'stress' seems to have taken an interest in my company. Being an adult has a lot of benefits: late night parties, bank accounts and license to a lot of other things, however, every grown up also regrets leaving behind their childhood. As for me, Eid was a much more wholesome experience when I was a kid, not only for my observation skills or enthusiasm for almost anything, but also because I didn't have to lose my head wondering what am I going to give my girlfriend for her birthday or how to come up with a good excuse to skip a day at work just so that I can sleep late. It also could be because as we grow up we start taking Eid for granted, and so fail to notice the Eid the way we used to when we were kids. I use the phrase once upon a time (the quentessential phrase that all magic stories begin with) to accentuate the magic of our childhood. So, childhood = no tension/no worries/no stress/no taking for granted = great Eid! But then again Eid makes many of us forget all the grief and stress for one day and enjoy as much as we want, by eating to the point of being sick and yes, dressing up nice for the people you meet almost every other day. Kindly ignore my somewhat lack of enthusiasm these days: as you know, grown ups do not get any Eidi!
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