Eid literally means "the day of happiness" but for her, it's just another sad day. Every mother is worried about her children but there is something else that makes this concern hauntingly unique in her case. She has a lone daughter who has grown wiser than she actually should be. She is just a 14 year old kid who often surprises her mother by talking serious stuff like how ethical it is to celebrate the Eid with modesty rather than asking for fancy dresses and other entertaining stuff. This scares her! What's wrong with this little girl? Why does she act so differently? Why is her behaviour different than other children around?
Eight years ago, when she was just six, her mother struggled to arrange a pink dress, new pair of red shoes and a glittering blue doll for her on Eid. That is why despite her pestering demands, her mother couldn't offer her any special dish on that day. She wept and wept ferociously. Her mother tried to calm her down but failing to do so, she hugged her daughter and sobbed like a child. Watching tears rolling down her mother's sunken cheeks, she forgot about Eid and her demands for a moment.
While catching her breath she asked her mother innocently, "I am not missing Abbu and I love you more than anything else in this whole universe but his presence would have made our life blissful and easy. Why isn't Abbu with us, like all my friends have their fathers with them?"
"My darling, your Abbu sacrificed his life to make sure that the fathers of all of yours friends were safe and free. He fought everyone's battle, selflessly and bravely. That means you are a unique child. You are the daughter of a martyr," her mother answered with an air of pride.
This answer was too philosophical for a kid to understand but the words 'daughter of a martyr' kept echoing in her ears until they got engraved on her brain forever. That day on, her life was never the same. She became very sensitive and responsible. Now she answers herself and her desires with the same logic. Now she rarely pesters her mother for things she wanted.
There are people that live around her, very pious and religious. Apparently, they take care of every good activity in the society but hardly anyone cares about her. Her closest neighbour is a leader and 'freedom fighter', once deputy of her father, who surrendered and later joined politics. He never visits them instead of being a neighbour, friend of her father and moreover a (self-made) 'freedom fighter' who gives long speeches on freedom and sacrifice. His living standard is far better than any business tycoon but he never pays heed towards the sufferings of this family. Every year, he sacrifices an animal on Eid which costs more than her yearly budget but she is not jealous. She has a faith that they don't need an animal to please Allah, as her father has offered his own blood in His path.
The local 'molvi sahab', who in all his sermons stresses on being humble and caring towards orphans, despite knowing the miserable condition of her family never pays a visit. But she is still grateful to him, at least this gives people a realization that there is someone called orphan who are also a part of our society. Her relatives, very nice people, don't like facing her on festival days, fearing she might ask for something. People visit graveyards on Eid, remembering their dead but nobody cares about the living ones, who need to be remembered. Call it the biggest tragedy of our times or a deliberate denial!
She adores her friend who on every Eid, comes early in the morning, wearing a fancy dress and carrying a pouch full of currency notes, giving her every minute detail like how much 'Eidi' she was given and her plans about what to buy from it. She smiles and appreciates her plans, making her friend feel special, that's why she comes for, to enjoy some superior time. Her heart bawls in desperation but there isn't a single wrinkle on her face. A smile lost forever in the abyss of responsibilities and sufferings.
"Clothes are just to cover the body; they need not to be beautiful or fancy. I am happy, if they just fulfill the basic purpose." She tries to calm herself down by mumbling these words. "A hundred dishes might not doze off the fire of appetite but a simple meal can satisfy us," she answers to her inner questions maturely. She might be good at befooling herself but it's not easy for a human to curb his/her desires. Every time you look at others owning what you want to have, you feel a part of your soul missing. You feel an excruciating pain deep inside your heart. At that time you just wish somebody to be there who would warmly hug you and say, "Don't worry. Here I am to make things better!" Is she strong enough to curb her desires or has she just evolved herself to handle it so well? Maybe with the passage time we learn how to live with pain.
"Ammi, if Abbu sacrificed his life for everyone. Then why don't they take care of us? Aren't we their collective responsibility?" she once asked her mother pensively. "
To her, Eid is just an additional 'Namaz'. Just a mention of Eid is torturous for her. She remembers it as a day when her mother is worried as never before. The experience is really horrible and it gives her the real feel of the society she lives in. She walks around wearing a smiling mask throughout the year but on Eid, she misses her 'Abbu' terribly and cries silently in loneliness!I can't even imagine how she feels on seeing other girls giggling with their fathers.
She wishes a happy Eid to everyone but at the same time she whispers a silent prayer: Oh Allah! Let there be no Eid, ever!
The writer is a student of Political science at University of Kashmir.