By Mashal Tayyab – Medical student
I looked at my bedside table clock with bleary eyes as the digits, showing 5:00 a.m, questioningly stared back at me. Still half conscious, I wondered why I had woken up so early without an alarm. Shards of pale blue were rapidly creeping across the piece of sky visible from my bedroom window. Then it struck me! Today was the first of Shawwal, and my mental clock was tuned to Fajr time because of Ramadan – Fajr which I would probably miss, if I didn’t get out of bed immediately. Wanting to break my shamefully perfect record of missing it regularly throughout the year, and becoming regular only from the first of Ramadan, I dragged myself out of bed.
By the time I had finished offering Fajr, I had regained all of my consciousness. It was Eid today. This fact flooded me with mixed feelings: nostalgia, a little sadness, a little joy and a strange sense of tranquillity. I was almost twenty-two, and Eid had changed so much in the years since I had consciously celebrated it.
Reminiscing my earliest and fondest memories of Eid, I remembered how my two younger brothers and I used to spend a sleepless night two days prior to Eid. Excitedly, we used to pack our crisp new Eid finery into separate overnight bags, as preparation for the much awaited and anticipated trip to Sahiwal – my father’s native city where we went to celebrate Eid with my grandparents. The whole extended family used to be there, too, which meant lots of young cousins and two days of breathless, nonstop fun and games.
It was like a whirlwind, the Eid day being the eye of the storm, of course. I still vividly remember waking up to the smell of sweet semolina and fluffy Halwa. Eid day usually began with everyone in a hurry to get ready, the men rushing to get in the queue outside the bathroom and the women in the one behind the ironing table. Finally, all the men in the house left for the Eid prayers in a cloud of perfume mixed with the starchy smell of new clothes. When they returned, ‘Eid Mubaraks’ echoed throughout the house, as everyone greeted each other and the expectant children were handed Eidis along with hugs. Next came a flurry of events, including a grand breakfast of Halwa Puri, relatives coming to meet and greet, children overdosing on sweetmeats and mothers telling the children to go easy on the sweets (in vain of course). Finally, it all ended in a lot of very sleepy people trying to catch the last of the Eid transmission on PTV. I loved every bit of it, especially the wonderful warm feeling of family unity and togetherness it brought.
Circumstances, however, don’t always stay the same, as I later realized. They change in ways that are beyond our control. And that was exactly what happened to my childhood Eid when my grandmother, who had been the stronghold of family unity, died. After that, Eid for me changed radically as everyone drifted apart. Now they always had something more important to do on Eid instead of coming to Sahiwal. I, too, had outgrown the excitement of road trips, but I missed them nevertheless. There was, however, a very important lesson I learned from the whole experience. I learned to appreciate Allah’s (swt) blessings, may they be in the form of joyous occasions like Eid or loving relationships like my grandmother. I learned to enjoy His blessings, while they lasted, and thank Him for them when they ended, for everything in this world is indeed mortal.
Thus concluding my thoughts, I left my room and ventured into the kitchen to begin a new Eid and enjoy the new blessings it might have brought with it. My mother stood over the stove, contemplating the consistency of Sheer Khurma.
Kissing her, I said, “Assalaam Alaikum, Mama.”
“Wa’alaikum Assalaam Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu,” came the reply.
“I’m not going to say Eid Mubarak to you, until after Eid prayers.”
“Why?” she asked me curiously.
“Just to keep up the tradition,” was all I said, as we both smiled at each other.