Eat, Pray, Repeat: The Monotony of Eid


Eat, Pray, Repeat: The Monotony of Eid

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

After a month of fasting from morning until evening to tell God that you care about Him and His teachings, Ramzan has finally come to an end. As a good Muslim girl living in Pakistan, I have faithfully observed not just the fast but all other rituals of this month including naik amaal. The amaal ranges from posting statuses on Facebook that you are feeling hungry but cannot eat anything, sharing Quranic ayats and hadiths with captions like “If you love God, like it, please. Beware, Satan will stop you from sharing it” to posting pictures of your favourite food to let other know how tolerant you are.

And then it all ends and Eid comes along. You get deliriously happy with the idea that you can get to eat anything you want without any upbraiding from Amma or abba. You buy dresses of your favourite brands, thinking your abba is soon going to replace Donald Trump in the next US elections, which means he can afford it all. (It invariably turns out that abba has some other plans). You believe that no matter how bad your Eid preparations were, Eid would still be great. And here, life steps in again.

As a child I’d always imagined Eid as a magical day. We would get to enjoy Eid our way after our long, hard month of starvation. We would sit in a circle cracking Santa-Banta jokes, reading Lunarbaboon comics, or having deep discussions on how JK Rowling ruined her whole Harry Potter series with her eighth book? Glorious food would be served, Eidi would be so generous that we would have a hard time spending it before next Ramzan.  

But as Eid day starts, your dreams begin to evaporate.

If you are a man, you go to masjid to flaunt your new shalwar kameez that you bought from Khaadi in the guise of offering a prayer. However, if you are a woman like me, there is literally no show business for you on Eid day. While you are in deep sleep, dreaming about a certain baraber-wali aunty ki beti Aisha drooling over your white embroidered kurti and black palazzo, you are woken up by your Amma. She asks you to offer namaz, wear a new dress, and help her in the kitchen.

As Eid Day unfolds with monotony, you want to scream, but God forbid if you try to complain.

Amma is so excited that she cannot control her happiness. She is up since 5 am, prepping for the party. Now, she wants you to be a part of it. However, the sad part is, her happiness is directly proportional to the number of hours spent in the kitchen. So you know what you need to do, to gain the status of a acchi beti on Eid Day. Half-heartedly, you get up from your bed, wear your Eid dress, and start helping Amma in making sheer-khurma, a patent Eid dish prepared in every house. All your armaans of making Aisha jealous are ruined.

As soon as you get done with cooking, Amma asks you to go and meet the neighbourhood aunty squad. As you head there, your heart is brimming with high hopes that you are surely going to get a bucketful of Eidi, but you end up getting 50 rupees from each aunty. You go back thinking Amma or abba might give you some more bucks, but with them, your conversation goes like this:

“Abba, meri Eidi?”

“You are independent now, beta. It is your duty now to give Eidi to your younger ones .”

“Abba, but, I am younger than yo…”

“You know when I was your age, I never…”

“Okay, abba, I got it.”

After this heartening conversation, suddenly your phone rings and a message pops up on your screen that reads:

‘Aoa everyone. I hope God would venerate you on this auspicious juncture of Eid. May He always pay homage to your family, friends, and all your antecedents. Stay in love. Please do remember me in your pRaYer$$. L<3 U aLLxx.”

Ya Allah! I observed a fast every day for a month, for this? Please make this day interesting for me, I pray. Please, please. I will feed 10 poor children each day, no 10 is too many. I am not that rich yet, so five children. Deal sealed.

As Eid Day unfolds with monotony, you want to scream, but God forbid if you try to complain. Your parents are always ready with responses like, “We used to offer prayer, play Kho-Kho, watch Eid transmissions, collect Eidi from our elders, and meet our friends. This is how we used to make the most of this day. You guys do not like to meet anyone. Where did we go wrong in our upbringing?”

If you don’t know about Eid transmissions, let me tell you. They are aired on every Eid, and your whole family watches it every time. They think it is a good way to celebrate Eid. And the torture is not limited to just asking you to watch the show. They also ask you to provide your feedback, and you have to praise the earrings of the female lead and the physique of the male lead. During such moments, you want to kill your brother who has the liberty to hang out with his friends without having to worry about anything at home.

The Eid Day seems to be dark, even darker than the Dark Lord. You are clueless about what you should do now. Meanwhile, you hear Amma calling you for food. You forget everything and go toward the dining table thinking that the food will provide the ultimate balm to all your woes. You are excited to gorge on the chicken biryani that you asked Amma to prepare in the morning. However, what comes out from the kitchen is not chicken biryani but mutton pilaf (pulao) and soon you remember, you introduced a YouTube channel to Amma and that was probably a mistake.

What can you do now? Except thanking God for not being too generous to grant us three to four Eids a year as a gift for fasting in the holy month of Ramzan. Else you would have a lot of once-upon-an-Eid stories to share with your kids.