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Eid in Childhood

Tk2 note was my preferred eid salaami

Among the two major religious festivals of Muslims worldwide, Eid-ul-Fitr holds a special place by any measure. This religious festival comes after a month of strict fasting. Many fasting Muslims feel the urge to give of themselves as they celebrate this eid and give as much charity as they can. Eid brings a message of joy to everyone, rich and poor. The message of joy and happiness comes out as more practical for the poor when the rich extend their hands in support.

Eid brings a little extra joy for children and teenagers. Eid was full of joy in my childhood like the other children and teenagers. When I remember the eid of my youth, it still fills my mind with emotions. Eid was so happy in those days. I was born in the early forties of the last century during the British period. I was about seven years old when the subcontinent split. I remember the memories of that time very much.

Our house was quite large. From the Tongighor (room where people used to come and talk), it took about 1 minute to go to the main house. The main house was full of various trees. We had to go near the Tongighor to see the moon. There were bamboo trees. The moon was visible through the gap of the bamboo leaves.

Especially on the last day of fasting, before evening, we children and teenagers used to watch the eid moon through the gap of the bamboo leaves. At that time, the joy of seeing the moon was different. When the moon was seen, everyone started cheering. If for some reason it was not possible to see the moon or if the moon did not rise that day, everyone would be upset. It seemed that the joy of eid had faded away. The joy of childhood eid still thrills the heart. Who wouldn't want to get those days back!

A note of two taka (two rupee note) with beautiful colour was available in the undivided India. At that time the real value of two taka was much higher. During eid, the elders used to give 'Salaami'. I always wanted to get those taka notes as salaami. The note was very nice. I would not be happy if someone wanted to pay more. Everyone knew about it. So some of the relatives tried to give me more taka to have fun. I didn't understand the point of having fun then. I understood it much later. My shirts had chest pockets. I used to keep the money received as salaami in that chest pocket and I enjoyed it. Sometimes I would take out the notes and see it again and again. After growing up, I used to get prepared for eid several days beforehand and often helped my mother in eid preparations. I used to go to the market to buy animals during Eid-ul-Adha when I was in the high school.

When I was a child, it was customary to go from one place to another on the eid day. We used to visit the houses of relatives and neighbours in groups. Now this custom has almost disappeared.

During eid, every house used to prepare the best food as possible. Let's talk about something other than the eid which I suddenly remember. As a child I had a tendency of not having eggs with salt. But my mother thought that adding a little salt to the eggs would make those taste better. So she used to put salt in my eggs in my absence as I used to take salted eggs if I didn't see her putting salt in it. I didn't understand anything about the difference in taste then.

In Sylhet, a special fried delicacy named 'Bulbula' which was made of flour and sugar was available. It was also made with rice flour. It was my favorite food as a child. Of course, I still love this dish; But because of diabetes, consuming the delicacy is not good for me. Apart from that I loved almost all kinds of foods. I still do, but diabetes stops me taking those.

When I was four or five years old, my father was the MLA of Assam Assembly. From that time, my father used to take me to various meetings. I knew many leaders of Assam province. Dad used to teach me various things in forms of stories during the journey. If time permits him, he used to teach me English and Bangla other times too. A long writing book divided into three parts was there. The first part contained the original content to be translated. The second part contained my translation while the third part was left for the revised translation. In this way, I stored numerous writing books. That's how I learned Bangla and English. Elsewhere I have told that I first went to school when I was in class VIII and that how my studies went on. No more childhood stories today. Happy Eid-ul-Fitr to everyone.

Author: Economist and Chairman, Dhaka School of Economics.
Transcribe: M A Khaleque

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