An open letter to bakra mandi owners

Published: September 13, 2016
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The people who buy phenomenally expensive animals on Chaand Raat are the ones who gain the most respect, awe and admiration from everyone.

Dear bakra mandi owners, 

This letter is to express my absolute stupefaction over your outrageous, albeit devious, marketing tactics, yet again, at Eidul Azha this year. The prices of goats and cows have escalated to a level that is beyond the financial capacity of the middle class group to afford. Even the lower upper class is having second thoughts about fulfilling this necessary religious obligation. More and more people are forced to take shares in cows.

For me, as well as for millions of other like me, I’m sure, taking shares in cows is extremely embarrassing because it openly screams of the fact that I cannot even afford to buy even a small goat. Even if I scrap up the money by pinching from the various other already tight household budgets, it is always a choice between getting a sacrificial animal or paying half a year of my child’s school fees.

My husband is least concerned with my plight during this sensitive time of year. Of course, it doesn’t matter to him since he is not the one who is forced into humiliation and mortification in front of sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law who buy not one, but two goats and show off in front of me deliberately to make my already woebegone life even more miserable.

My mother-in-law says it is my fault because I squander her son’s money recklessly the entire year and hence do not have enough for a goat at Eidul Azha. I would love to remind her that her son does not make a six figure salary and raising a family in Pakistan within the income he makes is nothing short of a God sent miracle. However, I decide to keep these facts to myself. The one thing that really makes mothers-in-law show their fangs is when a daughter-in-law bad mouths their darling son. So I save this fight for another day. Right now I have greater issues to resolve. Such as trying to figure out what kind of country I live in that makes religious obligations a matter of life and death to fulfil.

My children start whining and imploring a whole month prior to Eidul Azha about getting an animal that they, too, can decorate and parade up and down the street. I get heart-broken telling them that we cannot afford it. Even they realise by now that taking a share in a cow means that their parents don’t have enough money to buy a goat. This inferiority complex causes havoc with their poor young hearts and minds. I suspect it will worsen every year because our government is so busy gorging itself on national coffers filled with the life blood of the common man that they are least bothered by the continually worsening bakra-plight of the average citizen.

Buying a qurbani (sacrificial) animal has become so much of a status symbol in our deplorable social system that it is just as aggravating as the mania of designer dresses. Just like no one wishes to award you with a second glance unless you are wearing a ludicrously expensive designer dress, you are branded a pauper for life both within your family and among your acquaintances unless you have a couple of goats or a cow for Eid.

I often plan to raise my own goat for a whole year and sacrifice it on Eid but that entirely kills the purpose if one is planning to show off on the grand day; everyone knows you raised a baby goat to save money and you get scoffed and snickered at behind doors. The people who buy phenomenally expensive animals on Chaand Raat are the ones who gain the most respect, awe and admiration from everyone. I hate the women of this country too, who judge everyone else on the basis of their buying power and wealth. But right now my problem is my inability to salvage my family name this Eidul Azha.

Pathetically enough, over half of my country’s population lives below the poverty line and can’t even afford to eat meat for the rest of the year. But for the few that are left in the fast shrinking middle class, of which I also happen to be a heavily struggling member, buying even a tiny, frail animal is financially perilous. It is quite shameful how my dear country men use religious occasions like Ramazan and Eidul Azha to fill their cash boxes.

A close friend of mine, who gives me suggestions that are often morally dubious in nature, told me that my husband should start taking money ‘under the table’ three or four months prior to Eidul Azha as that is the only way a middle ‘classia’ can afford a qurbani animal or even a share in a cow.

She herself gets a big, fat, healthy goat every year. Now I know why.

This year she has bought two goats. I am suspecting that this year her husband has not only taken money under the table but over and around it as well. Otherwise there is no way a middle class family in present day Pakistan whose children can barely afford a decent pair of shoes from Bata can afford a fat and healthy goat.

I could fill pages and pages with the complaints I have against you guys. But I have yet to write an open letter to the designers of the country who are robbing the women blind on Eid through their marketing scams selling disgustingly designed and stitched dresses for thousands of rupees in the name of fashion.

I hope you will address my situation immediately as there are still a few days left before Eid and I still might be able to keep my head up respectably within the family and on the street by obtaining at least one, even if tiny, goat.

Sincerely,

Aalia Suleman

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.

  • imran

    God bless you sister and many more like you, even qasaab of this country earn a lot then a government servant. My suggestion will be to try for some alternative way of earning something or may be a comittee etc. But I really feel that in our country even a six digit salary is not enough for a small household . Here people are so greedy especially those sitting in the markets. Recommend

  • MR.X

    My prayers with you sister, its not a matter of shame. If you cannot afford it then you should not buy it as per islam. Just ignore what other people say . Easier said than done.Recommend

  • Nawazz Solangi

    Do you know how much time does a farmer take to rear a goat for this occassion. I suppose you dont. It takes at least six months to feed and care an animal for this occasion. Now if earns 20000 or even 30000 from a goat. divide this with a six month, he earns a meagre amount for his long hard work. more over it is there only source of income. they will have to wait for the whole year.
    Now the real issue is if you can’t afford to sacrifice. then you should not sacrifice. you are having a sacrifce just to please your relatives. not to please God.
    If want to sacrifice then buy bakra off season and rear it for yourself and see how hard work it is.Recommend

  • Zoha Alam

    Thank you for such thoughtful and genuine presentation of facts. According to you what can be done about this from our side as muslim community? Recommend

  • FedUp

    Hate to break it to you, Ms. Suleiman but you seem pretty much status conscious yourself. Why would you feel ashamed of taking a cow share? It’s the better option, in fact. It is cheaper AND reduces the risk of diseases that can be caused by tending to dirty animals all day.
    Recommend

  • Aalia Suleman

    It is not mine but the mindset of millions of others in Pakistan who were very simple folk until the germs of ‘showing off’ and ‘strutting’ started to flourish within the veins of the Pakistani society. These germs are nurtured further by the gaping, and ever widening, schism between the middle and upper classes of the county due to the economic depredation of the nation and the inept rule of our fine rulers. As very aptly put by Benjamin Franklin, ‘The eyes of other people are the eyes that ruin us. if all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine clothes, fine houses, nor fine furniture.”Recommend

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    Girls dance in Cow Mandi
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