Eid from across the street

Published: October 27, 2012
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It was my favourite time of the year; it was chaand raat, the night before Bakra Eid. PHOTO: AFP

Piercing sounds of obnoxiously loud honking cars and shrill screams of overly excited children poured into my ears. Bright lights blinded me as I tried to make my way into the crowd. Nudging and elbowing fat elderly ladies, I found my spot.

My eyes glistered as I stood there aloof from the crowd, yet close enough to enjoy the carnival. It was my favourite time of the year; it was chaand raat, the night before Bakra Eid.

Although Eid for me was not any different from the other days that I spent in this city, I felt happy. Usually my typical day comprises running around polluted streets, banging my knuckles on different shapes and sizes of windows, spreading my hands in front of proud mortals, questioning my existence and finding a place to sleep.

I am a filthy, smelly, tiny, penniless beggar. I live a life of simplicity and independence.

However, instead of sitting in a dirty corner sulking, self pitying and thinking of ‘what ifs’ I tried to make their happiness mine. I tried to see different colours of clothing through their eyes. I try to taste the spicy food through their taste buds and feel the ticklish feeling of henna being imprinted on their hands. I let go of all my innocent worries and lived in the moment; carpe diem.

The night was young as music reverberated from at least six gigantic speakers placed on each corner of the plot. It was a party for all ages and classes; from old grandmothers struggling to keep their eyes open, to newly born babies clinging on to their mothers in their desperate attempt to find some kind of familiarity.

Children my age were hovering around food stalls and some were seen tugging onto slender, long-haired, abhorrent females, stretching their hands out to their faces in hope of getting a speck of henna on their chubby palms. Women spat and chuckled while bargaining and simultaneously purchasing excessive amounts of multi-coloured bangles from tiny tent shops. Frantically anxious fathers were seen trying to catch a hold of their stubborn children who preferred to roam around on their own.

I could see a few others, much like myself standing across from me. They were mere reflections of me, encapsulated with fascination. My allies stood straight up with their chests sticking out like a passive audience, observing every little detail and passing quick but silent judgements.

Lost in an abyss of awe and wonder, hours which seemed like minutes passed by quickly, and soon it was over. The crowd dispersed as the stall owners wrapped up and the henna ladies counted their crisp red-coloured notes. The ‘Agha’s’ sign seemed bare as the minute light bulbs were stripped off it. I remained still as a stone, thinking of where to go next.

Weighing out options, I decided to crash on the footpath across Agha’s. I made a pillow with my arms as I lay on my hard rock like bed, a smile plastered across my face as the idea of waking up to bloody streets and dressed up ignorant children begging for Eidi money fascinated me. I found it cute and funny at the same time when they tried to do my job, pathetically.

Chills ran down my spine as I pictured a swamp of greedy flies surrounding obese organs of dead, sacrificed animals that were tossed on the street ─ my body stiff with excitement, my stomach groaning with hunger.

I said a little prayer and closed my eyes.

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Bushra Parekh

A sub-editor for the blog desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets @bushraparekh

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