My Eid in a different Pakistan

Published: October 5, 2014
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We may have old clothes with new lace and polish covered old shoes, but we can still gather and share smiles and stories of the past and dreams of a better future. PHOTO: AFP

We may have old clothes with new lace and polish covered old shoes,
but we can still gather and share smiles and stories of the past and dreams of a better future. PHOTO: AFP We may have old clothes with new lace and polish covered old shoes,
but we can still gather and share smiles and stories of the past and dreams of a better future. PHOTO: AFP

I hold the bills and hard earned cash

Mentally calculating if I have any left

For the new shoes my two sons want

For Eid-ul-Adha.

But I know I don’t.

 

My husband had told me quietly in the morning,

“Get some good shoe polish.

I’ll make the old shoes new.

They won’t mind”.

But I know they will.

 

Eid is no longer cheery and blithe,

The celebration it used to be

For the middle-classes.

It has become an ordeal;

A trial for the common man.

A supreme, exhausting test of nerves,

Agonising over where corners to cut,

In order to salvage some percentage of festivity

In the two Eids

At least for our children.

 

It had never been this arduous

For my father, I remembered wearily.

We had new clothes and shoes

And a couple of goats.

The special sacrifice that

Made Eidul Azha, Eidul Azha.

Now Eid brings frustration and aggravation.

 

My younger son asked me yesterday,

“Why we don’t have a goat for Eid?”

I told him,

“Son we are taking a share in a cow”.

“But mother”, he said, “my friend has three goats”.

How can I explain to him?

The pernicious principles

Of the sinister class system in my country?

It has its tentacles wrapped around the ankles

Of the middle and lower classes

Pulling them lower and lower

Into an abysmal pit

Of rising taxes, worsening corruption,

And lack of basic human necessities.

 

My father could buy a goat or two when I was young.

We too were middle class then.

I shouldn’t be calling myself middle-class now.

If I can’t even buy a goat for Eidul Azha.

My Eid shopping was at the Sunday bazaar,

To buy some lace to put on an old dress.

I can’t afford to imperil even a portion of

My sons’ tuition money for a new dress.

I don’t complain but I still wonder,

How the glamorous people splashed across

The lavish billboards and on TV

Afford the extravagant clothes

And phones and cars and homes,

In Pakistan?

 

I am convinced there is a higher class

Than an upper-class in my country.

I am convinced that there is no longer

Any middle-class in the country,

If I can’t even buy new clothes

And shoes and a goat on Eidul Azha.

 

Eid was different when I was younger,

I despondently muse.

But I still have a few days before Eid.

I forcefully shrug off the melancholy.

Eid will still be Eid, I firmly resolve.

I pick up the phone to call

The members of my family,

To invite them to spend

The entire Eid day with me and my family.

 

I may not have even the simple,

Material glamour of the yesteryears,

Or the insanely exorbitant excesses,

I see in the supreme upper classes,

Or the cheerful sounds of a goat in my tiny lawn.

But I still have friends and family who share my struggles

And stagger and plod through a harsh everyday life,

Just as I do.

We may have old clothes with new lace,

And polish covered old shoes,

But we can still gather and share

Smiles and stories of the past

And dreams of a better future.

 

I cannot give my sons new shoes

And clothes and expensive Eid gifts

But I can give them joyous memories of Eid.

They will remember the walk to the prayers,

Bear hugs from their mother,

Bowls of sheer, roasted beef from our cow share,

And their small house filled with family

From morning to night.

 

That will be my legacy to them

That they will cherish

Regardless of good or bad circumstances.

I hope life will be easier for my next generations

And that they enjoy Eidul Azha as happier

And more blissful citizens

Of a country that will perhaps

Start to love them back someday.

aalia.suleman

Aalia Suleman

A freelance writer and poet who is keenly interested in the status of women in 21st century Pakistan. Her writing also zones in on Pakistan's new social and political status on a redefined global chessboard. She has a masters degree in English Literature and blogs and invites debates at 'Socio-politically Pakistani'. She tweets @aaliasuleman (twitter.com/aaliasuleman)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.