Story Time: A unique Eid

Published June 13, 2020

“New shoes done. New dress done. New perfume done. New wallet done. What else is left?” Ali stared into space while ticking off his shopping list. “Umm I guess everything is … oh yes! Totally forgot the most important thing! A new watch! Yes, now it’s pretty much it,” Ali folded the shopping list with a satisfied smile and went out of the room.

“Dad! Where are you?” Ali called his father while entering the living room.

“I’m here dear!” Mr. Ahmed replied while reading the newspaper in the living room.

“Oh Dad! I’m so excited! I have completed my shopping list like I do every year. So when are we going to go for the Eid shopping?” Ali asked as his eyes sparkled and he gave the shopping list into his father’s hands.

With a smile, Mr. Ahmed skimmed the list, folded it back and returned it to Ali. “We wouldn’t be shopping this year,” Mr. Ahmed quietly replied.

“But why Dad! Now the lockdown has been eased. All the markets and shopping malls have reopened. All my friends are going out for shopping, so why can’t we?” Ali wailed to his father.

“Look my dear! The lockdown may have eased, but the threat of the coronavirus is still high and present. And do you know why the lockdown has been eased?” Mr Ahmed tenderly asked his son.

“Yes, so that people can have some relaxation and can go out for shopping to buy the necessities,” Ali innocently replied.

“Yes, that is just a minor reason,” Mr Ahmed chuckled at the response of his son. “The real reason for easing the lockdown is to provide welfare and earning opportunities to businesses, daily earners and the under-privileged ones. You are well aware that the economy of the country is at recession because of this pandemic and many people have lost their jobs. So in order to commemorate the front line workers, that is the least we can do, being a responsible citizen. So, this year let’s not celebrate Eid with extravagance, but with simplicity.”

“But dad… we can follow all the precautions, like using hand sanitiser and face mask and still do the shopping!” Ali tried to protest.

“Yes, we can dear. But at this time social distancing should be the main priority to ensure the safety of ourselves and of our loved ones. Plus, since last three to four months, thousands of people have died around the globe fighting the Covid-19, so in remembrance of them, let’s have a plain and a simple Eid,” Mr Ahmed tried to convince his son.

Ali didn’t argue further and dejectedly left the room. He was an obedient child and Mr Ahmed knew that like other children he also had his desires and longings related to Eid and was not satisfied.

The usual noisy table at dinner was unexpectedly very quiet that night. Mrs Ahmed was serving out lasagne while Ali was mutely fidgeting with his fork. The only person who was unmoved on the table was Mr Ahmed.

“Dad. My friends would be coming over this Eid, but I don’t have anything new to wear. What will I wear?” After a few seconds Ali asked his father while still looking down.

“That is not a big problem. You would be having dresses that you wore just a few times and might have kept them for special occasions. Just take one of them out and you would be good to go,” Mr Ahmed smiled at his son.

“Ok dad,” Ali smiled back.

“Ali, don’t worry. It’s not like you would be imprisoned in the house on the day of Eid. I am sure your dad might have planned a surprise for you and I promise you, that you would enjoy it to the fullest!” Mrs Ahmed looked mischieviously at her husband. Ali looked excitedly at his father who nodded in agreement.

So a few days passed and finally the day of Eid arrived. Ali woke up eagerly, took a shower and changed into his Eid clothes. He had selected a white dress that he had only worn once at a relative’s birthday. Next he combed his hair, applied a little perfume and wore his old shoes and watch. The night before, he had polished them well so they looked shiny and new. He came downstairs and greeted his parents “Eid Mubarak,” whole heartedly.

“Oh my gosh! You look so vibrant!” Mr. Ahmed came forward and hugged his son.

“Thank you dad! So what’s the surprise?” Ali looked erratically at his father.

“Come to the kitchen then!” Mr Ahmed smiled and motioned Ali towards the kitchen.

When they entered the kitchen, they saw Mrs Ahmed wrapping dozens of small packages. Ali eagerly came forward and picked one of them. It was a box stuffed with candies, chocolates, a small perfume and mini hand sanitiser. Mrs Ahmed was wrapping that box into beautiful packaging and alongside those boxes, there was a basket full of white roses.

“Do you like it? We would go out and distribute these to the health care workers and the security personnel who are sacrificing their Eid to be with the people in these hard times. It would be a small token of appreciation from our side. There thousands of patients of Covid-19 who are not able to enjoy their Eid like we can,” Mr Ahmed shuffled his son’s hair affectionately.

“I got it dad! An Eid with a purpose! I can now feel the pain of the ones who are in a distressed situation, who have lost their loved ones due to this pandemic and whose world has become empty and dark. I really want to show solidarity to such people on this festive occasion,” Ali replied soberly to his father.

Mr and Mrs Ahmed proudly looked at their son and wiped their tears. That day, the whole family went out to a nearby hospital where a team of doctors and nurses were present regardless of the festive day. Mr Ahmed helped Ali distribute the packages and roses to each one of them. They smiled gratefully and thanked Ali. Next they drove around on the road where the police force was performing their duty. Mr Ahmed handed the packages and roses to them. They were moved and thanked him wholeheartedly.

Just seeing their smiles made Ali glow with pride and happiness. It was definitely the best Eid he ever had, simply a unique one — because Ali was able to bring a smile to so many people.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 13th, 2020

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