There will be no Eid for the families of the APS victims this year
This past Monday, my mother asked me for the third time,
“What colour kurta do you want for Eid?”
By now, between two aunts and a friend, I have already been gifted three new kurtas. My response to my mother was same as it was to my aunts and my friend that I am not celebrating Eid.
My mother of course wasn’t amused. This is the second year in a row I am not celebrating Eid. My friends look at me as this perpetually grim personality who needs to lighten up, and what better excuse than Eid.
Eidul Fitr, or as we know it in Pakistan as ‘choti Eid’ or ‘meethi Eid’, is definitely livelier and festive than Eidul Azha or ‘bari Eid’. Malls and streets are adorned throughout the last 10 days of Ramazan in its anticipation. Every urban centre in the country looks as if it’s hosting its own shopping festival.
Lawn billboards are replaced by kurta billboards. Henna stalls are set up at every corner. Family members start gathering in the native city of villages for grand celebrations and the whole mood of the country is just much happier, and God knows Pakistan could use these uplifting joyful occasions.
The only ones Pakistan have had this year is the Nobel Prize for Malala Yousafzai, at least for me, and the Zimbabwe Cricket Team’s tour of Pakistan which brought international cricket to our home grounds after a six year famine.
However, I cannot forget that this is the first Eid after we lost 138 school children in Peshawar. Today marks the seventh month anniversary of the Army Public School tragedy. This is also the first Eid after we lost almost 2,000 fellow Pakistanis to the heat wave in Sindh. It’s has not even been a month since that tragedy. And for those who fail to acknowledge sectarian violence, this is also the first Eid after suicide bombers claimed hundreds in Shikarpur, Rawalpindi, Hayatabad and Lahore.
I am not an expert on religion but our culture usually dictates that families do not observe the first Eid after the demise of a loved one. There are thousands of Pakistani families who will be in mourning this Eid, thousands of families whose Eid day will begin with a visit to the graveyard to greet their family members who they cannot embrace anymore, thousands of families who will not be preparing any desserts on meethi Eid.
Knowing of all those mourning mothers and fathers, I just cannot get myself to be in the festive mood. It appears nothing short then hypocritical of me to be consumed by own immediate family and not remember who sacrificed their lives in the battle which we as a nation claim to fight.
Solidarity does not mean a vigil, a protest, a tweet or a post. Solidarity means feeling and sharing someone’s pain. It means to show support to the victims even when the tragedy has slipped from the headlines and when it ceases to trend on Twitter. It may sound extreme but it is almost like embracing a new lifestyle where you as a Pakistani feel indebted to every departed soul and their families.
I don’t intend to say that we should condemn anyone smiling and should stop celebrating festive occasions but simply that at the least some individual or collective action of ours should reflect that we haven’t forgotten the pain which we claimed we felt on December 16th.
That those children in Peshawar meant more to us than just putting up a black profile picture. Perhaps visiting an ill child in any government hospital and financing his/her treatment could be one way. Visiting an orphanage and putting an underprivileged child through school could be another. I know for a fact that I can educate a child for a year in a charity school for less than a price of a designer kurta. We cannot bring the kids we lost in Peshawar back but we can save so many others from the darkness and disparity, if for nothing than perhaps to just honour the students of APS.
And the more I think about it, it appears that observing Eid this way does more justice to the occasion than reducing it to an excuse of buying new clothes and shoes. We are almost always consumed by our joys and happiness or that of our immediate family and close friends. Let us try and focus on making others happy by sharing their pain and burden and giving them hope for a better future as a tribute to those futures which we have failed to save.
Let us #NeverForget.
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