Eid at Home

At this time back home, our house will be brimming with activity. The 27th night of Ramazan as always is spent in prayer but afterwards, there’s a sense of anticipation which blurs the final days of fasting.

 Every year, a week before the festival, my mum will announce that she won’t be making too many food items for the table. Each year we nod and agree knowing well enough that when Eid dawns, our table will be creaking under the weight of all our favourite food items. Each year, we tell my dad firmly in uppercase that the day will be spent with FAMILY ONLY. Each year, he nods and acquiesces but the night before, he would sidle up to my mum and casually mention that X uncle might drop in at night and do we have enough food to go around. My mum (armed with years of foresight to keep the freezer well stocked) would sigh and feign impatience and say yes, yes, we just might have enough food. Oh brilliant, my dad would sigh in relief. Then, he would wait till we get back to our work and hurriedly mumble that therewasachancethatafewmorepeoplemightdropin and then swiftly make his exit before either of us could register what he said.

 The day before Eid is chaos. I’d run around in a rare mode of domesticity dusting this and washing that. My sister would help my mum in the kitchen and my dad would be sent out no fewer than five times on varied errands.  The cat would lounge about everywhere, gazing at us languidly and tripping everyone over. I remember as a kid how my mum, aunt, grandmother and our faithful domestic who used to work for us before she became a nun (that’s another story) would get together and make sweetmeats weeks before. My grandmother would bring out all her utensils which her mother had used and our domestic would be coaxed into the daunting task of stirring the sticky, sweet mixture. I say daunting, because the mixture for muscat is incredibly heavy and has to be mixed by hand. Mixing it required immense upper body strength, fortitude and alarming amounts of patience. My favourite though, was making palaharam. The dough was made, rolled out and then cut into minute squares. Once they were cut, we would sit around the table, catch up on general chit chat and twist the squares into dainty shapes. Once the dough was ready, they were fried and coated in sugar syrup – A homemade recipe for a heart attack, if there ever was one. The food during Eid was fantastic. Our table would be filled with thakbir, date cake, donuts, marshmallows, cutlets, nuggets, cheese rolls, samosas, egg shaped moss jellies and cupcakes for all the visitors who came throughout the day.

On Eid itself, we would be woken up at an ungodly hour. I would wake up only when my mum would storm into my room yelling at me for sleeping while everyone else had been up for hours (Every. Single. Year. I kid you not) I would, as usual be the last to bathe and saunter to the breakfast table in my pyjamas while everyone else was squeaky clean and attired in their new clothes.

The first thing that pops to my mind when I think of Eid is the abundance of family (no, it’s not all about the food).  The mosque is, as can be expected, overflowing with people of all shapes and sizes. Relatives I haven’t seen for months would troop into our house (and we, into theirs) as we wish each other for the season. Thankfully, most of the extended family has migrated abroad so the list of houses we visit isn’t too extensive but it can be an overkill sometimes. There’s only so many times you can politely answer that you’re not going to get married just yet and make small talk about the weather before you start yearning to throw objects at someone. But I usually avoid family functions and gatherings the rest of the year, so I suppose one day doesn’t really hurt.

The loot definitely helps ease any mental trauma. I used to get the funniest gifts. The loot ranged from money, cosmetics, clothes to the slightly more eccentric ones like chopping boards, digestive biscuits and underwear. Earlier, my parents would go out of their way to buy personalized gifts for the kids who come visiting but as the years went by the kids became harder to please so instead every kid who comes home now leaves with a handful of crisp notes and a mercenary smile on their faces.

Lunch is always a family affair at my grandparents. Biriyani, achcharu, green pea and cashew curry, tandoori chicken, raitha and of course the crowning glory – the watalapan. I love watalapan and I don’t know if its a Sri Lankan thing, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere over here! The afternoon is usually a food-filled stupor with a bevy of uncles, aunts and cousins and after a quick breather, the evenings are spent entertaining the guests who come over.

There’s an uncle who always, always comes over just when we’ve called it a day. Every year, after we dust away the vestiges of the day and gratefully slip into the comfort of our ‘regular’ clothes and are about to turn in, the doorbell rings. We’d look at each other in almost comical dismay and groan audibly. Happens like clockwork every year. I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I tried.

So that’s a snapshot of Eid back at home. I’ve glossed over some details, but here’s the gist of it –prayers, family, friends and food. I used to crib about the visiting, the food and bustle while I was back at home but absence really does make the heart grow fonder – I guess that’s why I was seized with a sudden desire to document it.

Eid Mubarak everyone.

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>Last week,

>

I made a new friend. Don’t judge her. She’s nicer than she looks.


I decided to stop sulking and painted a t-shirt instead (channeling negative energy to creative endeavors and all that sort of thing). Bar the purple splotch where I spilled a little water, it came out better than I dared hoped it to.



We blew bubbles with my little cousins and watched them run around the garden chasing them.



We gorged on Avurudu treats. Pani walalu anyone?





I went on an unexpected trip. (I have weird feet. Don’t look.)


(I told you not to look!)
We lazed around,


Ate too much,




Got reacquainted with the sea,



Made another friend of the four legged variety with a penchant for watermelon. (The little guy has the audacity to put his tiny paw on your hand while he eats, as though he’s afraid that you would retract it before he’s had his fill.)






And looked up and saw pink skies
 
 
We also watched the latest episode of Glee. The sibling and I gazed at the computer waiting for it to download. We like to think that the last 4% downloaded so fast simply because the sheer power of our minds. We munched on kokis and I was pleasantly reminded about why I fell in love with The Doors in the first place. Also, wasn’t the cover of Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Hello’ by Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff lovely?
 
 
 
 
We helped my grandmother forage through a lot of clutter which was taking up way too much room in her house and I discovered my old origami book!


Please note with what aptitude and precision little gutterflower coloured her colouring books. Although, they didn’t realize it back then, the inability to keep the colours between the lines displayed the makings of a genius. Sadly, it is too late now.



My origami swans were as graceful as an origami swan could possibly be.
Discovered old postcards by faceless uncles (some who migrated, some who died before I was born, some who I’ve never met) and aunts.

(Note the dates. One is almost as old as RD. Almost)
I also took a lot of pictures.
But you’d never have guessed that, would you?
🙂
How was your week?

>When We Were Young

>

Do you remember…

How we used to play hide and seek in your grandmother’s living room? When she called us, we would pretend we didn’t hear and escape upstairs.

The way we used to ‘cook’ sand and leaves in coconut shell pots. At least I cooked; you would sit afar and tease me

When we sat under the maara tree and ate achcharu. You know the kind. Ambarella, with lots of chillie and pepper and just a hint of salt.

How I laughed at your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bed sheet, and then went home and begged my mum for one of my own.

Our swimming lessons. When uncle Daya asked you to push me into the deep end because I refused to jump in. And you, with an apologetic look at me, did so. I haven’t been able to swim since, let alone go into the deep end.

How the simplest wounds were cured with the milk from the frangipani trees. ‘Tear the leaf like that, rub the juice onto the wound and keep it for 5 minutes’, that’s what you said.

The Christmas party we went to. We all went gleefully on the merry-go-round except for you, because you thought it ‘babyish’.

Eating candyfloss, sticky fingered and bright eyed. And once ours was finished, swiftly eating your brother’s one as well.

How you licked the icing off my birthday cake. I refused to talk to you through out the entire party.

That you were the first to see my new roller skates. And the first to see me fall with them.

How I punched you because you cheated at snake and ladders. And you went crying to your mum.

Running alone the beach. I, screaming when the frothy waves lapped at my toes. You, already up to your waist in the water.

Do you remember?
No, I don’t suppose you do.

Because you’re all grown up now.
And I-

I’m still young.