The markets are so full of bustle on Eid eve that theypresent the appearance of a fair. Shopping which is the main activity on thisday gives one an excuse to roam about in the markets. So there I was on the Eideve standing amidst a crowd at a bakery shop. The queue being long and thesalesmen rather sluggish, the waiting presented an opportunity for people tointeract among themselves and express their opinions on various issuesconfronting humanity in general and the 'muslim ummah' in particular (of coursethat is when they were not shouting at each other!).
"The muslim ummah is in a bad shape today," a man ofconsiderable body proportions, standing next to me said. The fellow standing tohis right sighed loudly. I couldn't quite decide whether it was in response tothe fat man's statement or just a deep breath of relief consequent to the fatfellow's transferring his bulk to me, as he leaned in my direction. "Amrika isa devil of a country! It is killing so many innocent people and look at theworld, it is watching all this without any concern!" the fat fellow continuedas he munched a stray biscuit that he had managed to grab as 'interim relief'till his order was attended to.
"Our problem is that we lack leaders!" said the other guywhose lungs had expanded to their normal state by now.
"It is a clash of civilizations. The White Man is out tograb the world," another fellow mumbled through a mouthful of pastry andproceeded to regard his depleted piece of 'white forest' suspiciously as ifexpecting a 'white man' to come out of that.
"It is just that we have become cowards and lotus-eaters. Weare not brave and aggressive enough!" the fat fellow said rather fiercelysnubbing both the opinions. He jabbed a finger at a passing salesman (nearlyknocking me over in the process with his beefy arm) and said to him, "Hey you!I have been waiting for more than an hour now! Pack two dozen chicken patties,four plum cakes, five kgs of biscuits…," reeling off his requirements, adding"And yes let me try that namkeen biscuit first and I might take a kilo of thatas well!"
As the salesman hurried to do the needful, the fat fellowagain turned towards me and continued his political commentary,
"The problem is that we are not united. We could teach theseangrez a lesson or two if we got together!" Meantime, the salesman had returnedand the political commentary got interrupted midway as the fat fellow beratedhim for packing the wrong biscuits and explained which ones to pack. He thenturned towards me and asked, "What do you think?"
Well, of course, all these topics being oft repeated ones, Ihad my own set of theories and opinions like everyone else and so I cleared mythroat preparatory to vocalizing them.
"Well what do you think?" repeated the fat fellow, a deepfrown of concentration on his face. "Will two dozen chicken patties suffice?You see my son likes them a lot and I am also rather partial to them. Betweenthe two of us we can clear up a dozen at a go! No I guess I should take a dozenmore…"
"Um…uh!" I said not altogether helpfully and filed back mypolitical theories and opinions till some other opportunity came up to expressthem.
Meanwhile, one of the other guys who had maintained a rathersullen silence after being snubbed by the fat man turned towards me, andpointedly ignoring the fat man said, "Amrika's days are over. I don't thinkthat country will last long now."
The fat man snorted contemptuously. "Not till we get ourpriorities right. Not till those Arabs change their lavish life-style and insteadinvest their money in making nuclear bombs!" he said thumping the counter.
This at least had one effect. The salesmen, mistaking allthis aggression as being directed towards them expedited the process of packinghis order. A short while later the fat fellow grunted with effort as he liftedtwo heavy bags full of the choicest confections and then charged through thetightly packed crowd with a fierceness that looked like he was 'attacking'Amrika in his imagination (armed with two bag-fills of 'ammunition'!)
By the time our 'orders' were taken care of, we haddiscussed the various 'problems' of the 'community' threadbare and had come upwith quite a few ingenious plots against the 'enemy'. Of course, there were theusual interruptions as we munched various delicacies and made appropriatecomments about their freshness or to the contrary and revised and modified ourshopping lists.
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored!Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce(iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, firstname.lastname@example.org)