Dilemma of Joy
The market was bustling, faces turning pale, tongues drying up. The sun was yet to hide behind the hills. The vehicle of time was moving at the snail’s pace. The cool wind was blowing from Pakistan and everyone was waiting upon for the call from office of Ruwait e Hilal committee. Those movements were indescribable when the sudden announcement from Muneeb u Rehman’s office lifted us above moon to anticipate the joy of the next big day.
Happy faces of children, storming through the gates of mosque to receive those remaining dates that were yet to be distributed. Children preparing for the Eid day. Men playfully lamenting the expenses of the day whilst as women folk busy in cooking delicious cuisines for the family. Young ones with bum fluff preparing for the Eid prayers. The happiness was all around. Smokers were happy for the puff which they could now enjoy in broad day light. The elderly had their own reasons to revel: their long waiting to listen Fauji Bhaiyu K Liyay at 3 pm while relishing each sip of Nun Chai had come to an auspicious end.
The social media had turned unprecedentedly dramatic, with the flood of wishes all around. Those who never bothered to enquire for well-being were first in the queue to text. What was more interesting was the digitization of the wish itself.
Observing these happy faces of these unfortunate people on the earth, a quote of an Arab Muslim intellectual struck my mind. “The real Eid of Muslim world shall be the day when your lands are free and your constitution is Quran”. This quote had two things in it; the freedom and the constitution. They were pointless to me. Perhaps the brain of an oppressed one was unable to comprehend this. Or perhaps being localized in thought was always better. Assessing the geo-politics of Palestine crisis and writing about it was perhaps meaningless, even thinking in the first place. Whatever, ignore. That was only a thought. Why give damn to a thought of the one who is fighting for his bare existence for decades now. Can the one under occupation ever think something great? Can someone who was being ruled by a lady with remote batteries available in New Delhi only, think about something inordinate?
As something great as rocket science or the philosophy of Socrates. I made my brain use the “condom”, the way “Khushwant Singh’s pen never does”.
But there was more than this political quote that was squeezing happiness out of this blissful day. There was something worse that faded away the glow from my delightful face with red cheeks to smile and feel the pleasure the way Angelina Jolie or Tom Cruise feels. The way, Major Gogoi’s family feels. The way Waheed Para feels. What were those obstacles and barriers? I could not decipher those signals, but they continued rambling deep into my heart, ripping of my mind and soul.
The mind of a slave comes to a standstill, once the feast is served on the table. Giving least damn to the thought about not being happy I jumped onto the dining table the way America had jumped onto Afghanistan back in 2001 and India onto my land in 1947. And recently “Baghdadi” thought into our own Mushtaq Veeri. It was perhaps unfortunate. Perhaps I had just reached near the point where one turns into Shaw, Russell and Ghazzali. I was perhaps just a mile away from challenging “social hegemony” of Nouman Noushehri.
Preparing to load my tummy with delicacies, I looked into face of my sister who reminded me of a girl whose house I had visited days back to deliver a bag of rice and other stuff, for their father had died years ago as a part of collateral damage in occupational military operation. Five sisters were they. My sister’s face made me think of the different destinies of women in my homeland, all of which was a matter of fate. I was filled with grief as the vulnerabilities of those women who were not lucky or privileged enough to have the securities of various types around them surfaced in my mind and how anyone, and especially the state forces, could use it as a means of exploitation. No, these were not merely my apprehensions. Our recent history is witness to such countless incidents. Aasiya, Neelofar, Mubeena Gani- my memory started shrieking. This is the real face of occupation and this is what filled me with the remorse.
I looked into the delicacies that were there for me. My eyes could soothe the taste and my tongue chants the praises. I got the gaze of Bilal, a son of daily wager Ghulam Rasool who was turned blind by a trained policeman whose family fattened on the blood of youth. His shrieks reverberated into my ears. He perhaps too wanted to see the delicacies. He perhaps again wanted to see how the Eid celebrations looked like. He perhaps too wanted to see how the occupation looked like after blinding him. He perhaps had thought that the occupation too was shrieking. However, it was not so. There were celebrations all over. I closed my eyes to feel how the dark world looks like. I failed to see anything. Yes few electric signals and a face of an “occupier”. I felt embarrassed. Bilal made a smile.
Iqra was there, waiting for her “university professor” to tell her how much beautiful she looked in her new dress. She kept waiting upon, for the comment on her plentiful dishes. There was no one to eat. There was no one to comment. There was no one to praise. She felt remorse.
I left the table and peeped through the window. I saw a little girl standing on a raised mound of earth. It was not the dune.it was her father’s grave. Perhaps she had turned there to receive her monetary gift on Eid. And also, perhaps, to show her father that how she lived and how much she missed her. She perhaps had taken the verse “and don’t say that whoso is killed in the path of Allah is dead. No. indeed they are alive” in its literal sense. The nostalgia for the past revelling moments with her father on Eid were apparent from her innocent eyes. She left the spot without paying accolades, “a pathetic penniless little child”. I felt the misery out of that scene penetrating my bone marrows. I was devastated, internally.
Author is a Doctoral Fellow at Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History Aligarh Muslim University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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