I can smell Eid in the air. Itís in the crowds I find at the Liberty Market. It hangs quietly in the office where I work; waiting to restore everyoneís energy levels back to normal and kick them back into functionality. I can feel it running like a waterfall through the chattering aunties in my neighborhood. Eidís hanging on by a thread, waiting to descend upon all of us. I donít see the point, though. Iíve grown up with an almost ritualistic practice in my house (which isnít that uncommon in Pakistan) where we get up early in the morning, put on our most amazing clothes and wait to be handed over money by our parents. As a child, there was no better tradition for me - since this one involved money, and for that reason alone I suppose I no longer understand why these traditions are important.
Eid - like everything else in most peopleís lives - has become that dead relative we all mourn once a year and then move on. And no one can be blamed for this except the past generation that raised people like me. Weíre Pakistani and proud -embellished with our green flag badges and stick flag paraphernalia; just like we become devout Muslims in the month of Ramazan, albeit only till we break our fasts. It doesnít surprise me that the current enthusiasm for Eid - be it Eid-ul-Fitr or Eid-Ul-Adha - doesnít transcend beyond the perfect clothes we get, or how big our sacrificial animals are. And itís all about the comparison.
Weíre taught to compare every single detail of Eid, regardless of our age. I can see my little cousins following the same patterns I did as a child, sometimes with my friends and cousins. Meri ammi made the best sheer khorma on the planet, but my miserly uncles could never cough up enough eidi. And just like that I can now see the patterns my own parents and their contemporaries once followed. You get your living rooms redone, those who can afford it at times buy new cars, and of course the clothes ... oh so many clothes... it was sacrilege for us to have anything less than three dresses per Eid as children. Then we grew up and realised that money doesnít grow on trees. And then at times we had to make do with just two dresses! The horror! The bizarre thing was that at times we couldnít even redo the entire living room! I mean you would have to see my khalaís terrified face to believe the agony she went through when she saw our old, wrinkly sofas. I donít mean to tell people to not have new curtains for their living rooms - I understand that itís just an expression of their happiness for Eid I suppose, but is there no expression that doesnít require show and pomp? I wish someone would show me ... I cannot put my finger on even one.
Iíve been hearing all this hoopla about Christmas being commercialised and it not having the same soul it once used to. I often wonder just what people are talking about when they keep saying that. This Islamic holiday is no less superficial. What traditions are you following that mean anything to you? When we were younger we had to give Eid cards to the people we cared about. Thatís the only thing I remember which was remotely meaningful. And for a celebration which is followed by a month marked for its powers in producing lifelong lessons, it seems Muslims learn absolutely nothing. I donít even know if anyone really deserves Eid. Eid is no less commercial than Christmas - just because you donít see Justin Timberlake dancing around to an Eid beat instead of a Christmas Jingle doesnít mean you are any less stuck in commercialism.
I wish someone could explain to me how not listening to music for a month but blasting ďAnarkali disco chaliĒ from your car on Eid is something you can justify doing. Someone needs to explain to me how itís okay to eat in a manner which is only suited for pigs - and can potentially induce heard attacks - something you can justify after a month you spent controlling your urges. Iím not sure if itís only the Muslims in Pakistan where our values and morals can be traced to a single day, specially marked on the calendar, or if itís because thereís something wrong with Muslims on the whole. If I had travelled the world I wouldíve perhaps been able to answer that question, but sadly Iím not equipped to make any deductions. And again my irritation with people waving flags in my face returns - for these are the same people who will drop their entire lives to go live in another country. It seems like such a brilliant liberty, we can be whoever we want in a manner of speaking. Weíre Muslim when we want to be, and shia when we want to be, if it suits us weíre sunni, when it doesnít we question everything and call tradition boring. We do that to the country itself - patriotic when we want it, and visiting London because itís our future thatís on the line.
Islamic tradition would dictate - and I know personally close to nothing about this because Iíve never seen this practised - that women should be in the mosque right there with men praying; instead we spend that time doing one of two things: either looking pretty for the men who will eventually return from their trip to Godís domain, or to cook food. And when I get down to it I donít understand either of the two roles - they seem rather absurd. A month marked by patience, virtue and a whole host of little pretty righteous words results in nothing but superficial actions on part of all that are involved. And you take your superficial values and pump them into your spouses, your children, your friends, your family and heck you would even do it to your cats and dogs if it were possible. It doesnít take a minute to wash the month of Ramazan out of our systems and very conveniently Muslims mark the rapid change in their personalities with the advent of the devil. I mean, to be honest, there are times I feel that the devil probably gets credit for a lot of things he has nothing to do with. Iíve seen people curse the poor guy for the weirdest things, which they themselves caused. You wake up a week after Eid and youíre no different than you were when you went to sleep before Ramazan.
Those three days are nothing more than an excuse for people to not go to work or do anything of consequence. They go and act like complete buffoons dressed in the best of the seven sins. I believe the most annoying part of Eid is the youth brigade that sits around and complains about how boring Eid is. They have nothing to do, they want to see no one, and they would rather sleep, eat or play videogames. Itís such a brilliant situation. They have no traditions to fall back on. And I wonder, oh dear youthful Muslims, what on earth were you people doing during Ramazan? What did you learn? Would you be more inclined towards Eid if Imran Khan gave you a nice little speech about it? Would it become cool again if Atif Aslam and Ali Azmat were to endorse it for you? What did you learn, really? Oh, right, you can play ďAnarkali disco chaliĒ in your cars ... real loud.