My childhood memories of Eid in Shillong are very faint, we did not have too many Muslim friends. I understood the meaning and import of Ramzaan and Eid only after I was in college thanks to a Muslim friend of mine. Her family treated me as one of their own. And boy, I looked forward to Eid for my favourite paratha and rajma besides the sewaiyan which Aunty used to prepare.
I missed that warmth and verve when I came to
for the first time. I remember tagging my room-mate to our office driver’s house
for Eid somewhere near Tolichowki. We were greeted with the customary fragrance
of Attar and Eid embraces and led to a room meant only for the women. The same
evening, we also visited another colleague’s house near Mehdipatnam and I
remember, his wife had prepared quite a spread for all of us.
Thereafter, Eid memories for me were just another holiday and people around talking of haleem and biriyani. This year, my husband insisted I should see Charminar in its glory. I almost nearly missed it thanks to the viral marathon in the house. I am glad I didn’t miss it this time. My only worry was our son, will the little fellow be able to deal with the madness and rush. God, he did and beautifully. I called up an old student to check the traffic conditions in and around Charminar knowing how paranoid my husband can get driving a big beast.
We were treated like royalty by the traffic police. Got decent enough parking near the High Court, we walked a total of 3-4 km through lanes and bylanes. Arjun was the most awake and he saw the world backwards and frontwards from his father’s shoulders while his father went away clicking pictures with one hand. We lapped up piping hot butter masala dosa and vadai at one of the roadside eateries. The baubles and shimmer and glitter took everyone by storm. My fever vanished. Everyone seemed to be out shopping then, the poor the rich and just about everyone from dry fruits to clothes to sandals to bangles. It felt good to see so many people out shopping at that unearthly hour. I was given the second odd look once in a while while my husband and son enjoyed the exclusivity. We picked up some nutmeg.
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle and the jostling, suddenly we had arrived at the foot of the Charminar. All around were scattered peels of fruits and leftovers of shopping cart discards. But the magnificence can’t be beaten. We stopped by for some sugarcane juice and decided to hitch an auto ride. Hard luck, no auto wanted to come the High Court side. I was so tired chasing and trying to keep pace with my husband. I remember screaming at him if he was catching some train. He told me he wanted to save our son from the pollution. I was like, yeah right. Little fellow had a sound sleep back in the vehicle.
Two days later was Eid and we visited old childhood friends of my husband. It took us the entire day and platefuls of sewaiyan and dates. Old world hospitality and conversations and a quaint accent of Hyderabadi wafting through the attar incensed air. I was a little annoyed with myself for my inability to wish my friends. Better late than never. Eid Mubarak!