Eid at home has always been a family affair. As a child, Eid was to be waited for a multitude of reasons.
Eid ul Adha was a different Eid. It did not have the same ambience of festivity as Eid ul Fitr had. It was to be spent at home and not at granddad’s house in Peshawar. As children we looked forward to the animals being bought, being taken care of and being decorated. Of course the moment of separation left us with tears, but we were told that their sacrifice is for Allah and we must not feel sad.
The breakfast was eagerly waited for. The butcher relentlessly hunted for. The barbecue or the biryani or the korma or the curry of the Eid animal meat just tasted uniquely differently mouth-watering, maybe because for few days before Eid meat had been banned in the house.
Over the years, much has changed in Pakistan. Not much has changed at our home except that children have left home to follow their dreams and their jobs at places far away from home. So even though animals are slaughtered at homes, kids spend Eid having halal meat at cafes and eating places all over the world.
My Eid celebrations in London took me to Pakistani, Lebanese and Persian eating places. At all the places I found people talking about Eid of their childhood. Their tales were studded with playful fondness of days gone by. As they told their children stories of Eid back home, their voices got choked with emotions.
There was an Iraqi man who had lived in London for more than 20 years. He cannot go back home but that home where he is unwelcomed still hold him a hostage. The home has shut doors on him but the only place he loves in this world is his home.
He was fondly telling stories of how he played with slaughter animals, how his entire family would gather to have a feast. I looked hard at his children’s faces. They listened with interest of a far-away land that they will always be mesmerised with. The TV channels may scream of chaos in Iraq yet their father would make them believe it is a paradise.
Then there was the Palestinian woman with two boys. Her husband has been martyred and she now lives with her sons in London. The land that had given her much grief was dotingly remembered by her as an abode of joy where Eid bought unrivalled festivities.
There were far too many people of countries that are torn apart by war and chaos busy in telling tales of supreme exultation on Eid. Listening to them, for some reason I thought they were trying to convince their children that no matter what the world says, you belong to that country that we were forced to leave but for you to have an existence in this world, you must continue to live the culture and values of that country.
You must continue to celebrate Eid in far-away lands yet long to be home!