The Eid I Knew
My childhood was spent in Sumer, a picturesque non-descript place in Meghalaya. My mother was the headmistress of Sumer High School located at the Thermal Power Station there. We were excited when our cousins from Guwahati came visiting. They were there to celebrate Eid with us. All the cousins slept in one room, lined up according to our size. We were trembling with excitement as we were all dying to wear our new Eid dress. Half the night was spent discussing our attire. Each one of us was trying to prove that our dress was the best! Then, there was a story telling session about beautiful fairies, oddball characters and mythical figures before we finally went off to sleep.
I was the first to wake up and woke up the other girls. We took turns to take bath and emerged in our colourful Eid outfits. We compared each other’s attires and discussed our favourite colours. There were hardly any accessories then except for a fancy hairclip or a ribbon. We quickly took our breakfast and waited outside. My father started his jeep and all the girls jumped into it. And without second thought, he drove off and we reached the lone mosque in Adabasti, located a few kilometres before one reaches Barapani.
We were animated and followed my father into the carefully-decorated mosque. My feet felt cold as I stepped on the marble floor of the mosque. I still remember we spread ourselves on the mat on the floor to take part in the Eid Namaz. Nobody stopped us. We giggled as we chanted ‘Allah O Akbar’ along with the others. Little did we realise that we were supposed to be sombre while praying. After the namaz, we came out and bought candies and savouries that were being sold outside. We were chatting non-stop as the jeep winded its way along the highway. All of us were hungry and were waiting to gorge at the pulao, chicken korma, sewaiyan, nankhatai and the specially baked cake.
But we were in for a rude surprise. We saw our aunt standing at the gate, fuming. She was angry at my father for taking us girls to the mosque. As a little girl, I was surprised when she sternly told us that we were supposed to go with them but not enter the mosque. We were supposed to wait outside while the men prayed. The boys were late in getting ready and the girls of the house offered namaaz in the mosque while the boys were left out!
A few years later we shifted to Guwahati and Eid for me always started with the booming voice of Khagen Khura (uncle) who would call early in the morning and wish me, “Majoni, Eid Mubarak!” That set the tone. And then he would ask what’s cooking, did you get your new dress and we would exchange pleasantries. I would end the conversation by saying, “Please come over.” And he did. And dinner with his family gave the final touch to our Eid celebrations. Khagen Khura, better known as KP Das was my father’s best friend. They studied together in Guwahati’s Sonaram High School. They went for an early morning jog together since an early age. My septuagenarian father still continues to do so. He was loud, boisterous and full of life. My father is serious and an introvert. He used to call my father “Rip Van Winkle”.
And in return we used to wait for a special dinner at Khagen Khura's house on the occasion of Bihu. I took a special gamosa for him. And he took special care to prepare a special Axomiya dinner for us with different kind of herbs, bamboo shoot and spices. It was not only on Eid but his presence was a must on all important occasions in our family. Khagen Khura is no more. However, he made me realise that a single detail, a small action can serve as a microcosm of an entire relationship.
(Teresa Rehman is a Mananging Editor of www.thethumbprintmag.com)