Our E-shaped high school building still had three minarets. This architectural beauty. that blended with the grand ambiance of the Jamia Masjid had not yet been consumed by the devastating fires.
I think, I was in class four. That year the holy month of Ramadan had started, a month or so after we had been elevated to the next class. The morning assemblies for the whole month were longer than usual. These started with recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. Then two or three students with melodious voices led the morning prayers. Some of the morning prayers like 'woh shama ujala jiss nay kiya chalees baras tak gharoon main' and 'woh nabiyon main rehmat laqab panay wala' are to this day etched on my mind. The prayers were followed by long discourses in chaste Urdu or Kashmiri on importance of the holy month by one or another teacher. Some of the teachers in their own right were good Islamic scholars. Teachers besides explaining spiritual benefits of fasting, shed light on different aspects of Islamic history- the Battle of Badar used to be the most favoured subject. The life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his illustrious companions and family remained under focus for the whole month at the morning Assembly.
It was the year, I started observing fasts, not for the whole month but at regular intervals. There was now no "taapi sahar", as children lovingly called the lunch during the holy month and anyone found eating during day time was ridiculed as 'Duhal-Daa's' ( The word could be literally translated day-time- eater buffoon). There used to be competition amongst siblings for observing the fast during the month… altercations amongst siblings over the number of days they observed the fast, were the usual scenes at home.
The Shab-e-qadar, besides its religious importance, was for children a night of freedom. I remember for whole night we shuttled from one Astana to another, and between the Khanqah and the Jamia Masjid – sipped cinnamon kehawa laced with cardamom at the Astana of Naqashband Sahib and salt-tea laced with pieces of coconut at the Astana of Makdoom Sahib. The countdown for Eid, in fact started from this night. And we eagerly waited for the Eid crescent—I have no idea, if the month of Ramadan was twenty nine or thirty days but I do remember, at about eight thirty the bell in one of the minarets of Jamia Masjid started ringing—announcing it will be Eid next day.
In wee morning hours, draped in my newly stitched white poplin 'Shalwar-Kameez', I was all set to join my sibling to go for my first Eid prayers at Iddgah. It was by nine, we assembled in an open space in our Mohalla and zig-zagged our way through lanes and by lanes Iddgah.
Then it was a vast expanse dotted with small temporarily erected kiosks and canopies of small time vendors. After saying my first Eid prayers we took a different route along the Mar canal to our home…then a translucent water way bisecting the city.