My Eid in a different Pakistan
I hold the bills and hard earned cash
Mentally calculating if I have any left
For the new shoes my two sons want
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,
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.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.