The wake up call
After a late night courtesy Chaand Raat shenanigans, you finally go to bed at 4am, only to hear your mother shaking you awake three hours later. “Are we being robbed?” you ask, feeling exceptionally charitable and happy to give away anything to the burglars just so you can continue to snooze. “Jaldi utho! Sab namaz ke baad aa rahe hain nashte ke liye (Wake up now! Everyone is coming for breakfast after namaz)!” That’s when you remember — it’s Eid morning!
While your mother did everything but punch and kick you to get you out of bed in time for the too-early-in-the-morning family hang out, that one cousin manages — like every year — to evade the calorie consumption and forced early morning cheerfulness. “Pata hai, she wasn’t feeling well last night — food poisoning from those blasted bun kababs — so I let her just sleep in bichari bachi,” is your aunt’s (her mother’s) lame excuse for her absence. “Right. Food poisoning,” you mutter to yourself, turning green with envy at the thought of her in a stupor, blissfully removed from this dining table.
“Beta, is this your last Eid with us before you get married?” asks one relative, the hope and condescension in her voice perfectly audible amongst the symphony of kaantas and chamchas. Your heart races a little and you think she spotted you at Espresso with your boyfriend last week, but you realise that she just wants you to feel old and uncomfortable because well, it’s about 10 in the morning and pretty much everyone at the table is not so thrilled about being there.
What you really want to do
Wake up; go back to sleep after breathing in the ‘aaj-chutti-hai’ air; wake up again to order some good old desi Chinese food/broast and fries/pizza and binge eat till you’re in a food coma; catch up on TV shows while your parents collect your Eidi (it’s a stretch, but this is a wish list); repeat.
Parathas at 8 am
After an entire month of stuffing your face between Iftari and Sehri time, on Eid morning you do the same at 8am. “Uff, I am so stuffed,” exclaims your teenage cousin, before lovingly putting his arm around you in affection and staining your kameez with his oily hands. As the plates of garam garam parathas, aaloo ki sabzi, omelettes and fried eggs are passed around the table (literally from right under your nose) you apologise to your post-Ramazan love-handles and fall face first into a plate of sheer khorma.
So you’ve begrudgingly put on your brand new Eid jora (and lots of concealer for the eyebags) and made your way to the dining room to meet your aunts, uncles and cousins who are waiting impatiently for nashta to be served. As you walk in and exchange Eid Mubarak greetings, all eyes are on your outfit. “Ooh, this is so nice. I saw this in that Zamzama shop but I didn’t buy it because it’s so transparent you know. It’s okay for young girls,” giggles aunt #1, as she turns to talk to aunt #2 about what moti moti galis she had to give to her tailor to get her outfit ready. “Great,” you mumble to yourself as you blush at her comment and shudder at the thought of being labeled a ‘See-through Saima’ for life.
Gold medal for visiting marathon
You may not remember (or even know) their names, but these people are important enough to spend your three days off work with. Whether it’s them popping into your house and surprising you while you are sprawled in the lounge in your pjs, or you being forced to their house to exchange pleasantries over the most unappetising food, they are inescapable. It’s mean, but the only way you can recall them is by physical identification ie Ganjay Uncle and Mole Wali Aunty.
Lifafay ke andar
Once you have downed bowl after bowl of sheer khorma and your relatives are holding their paunches looking satiated, you and your cousins look at them expectantly, waiting for crisp, fresh-from-the-bank blue notes to be placed in your itching palm. While your rich aunt from Amreeka places a fat envelope with a few thousand rupees in your palm, you’ll always have that one kanjoos uncle who gives Rs50 — every year, no matter how old you are and no matter how indignant you look.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.