Duck for Cover!

By Sonya Rehman

Every year, my family and I, brace ourselves for the looming ‘Slaughter Fest’…or, in other words, Bakra Eid.

Now don’t get me wrong, we respect our customs and traditions and all that, but there’s just one slight problem – you see my family and I are all vegetarians, to varying degrees.

Although I’m considered to be the most hardcore vegetarian of my kin since I’ve begun to flirt with the idea of waltzing over the edge into complete vegan-ism (I stopped eating eggs four years ago, and have, of late, begun to harbour an aversion to cheese). But what stops me from taking the plunge is: ice cream.

I’m sorry, but I love my dairy. You’d have to pry a box of ice cream from my cold, dead fingers to make me a vegan! I’m sorry PETA, but I can’t succumb just yet!

But coming back to the Slaugh-whoops I meant Bakra Eid, the night before Eid, my mother makes it a point to clamp down the windows good and proper to make sure none of us wakes up at the crack of dawn to the horrifying wailing and bleating of every goat, cow and camel getting sacrificed in the neighbourhood.

Keeping the windows shut for the first day also keeps the thick stench of blood out of the house, followed by the even thicker reek of meat being cooked into elaborate dishes of biryani, gravy and what not.

We also make it a point to stay indoors whilst the stabbing and skinning is done and over with because none of us fancy the idea of skidding on animal innards very delightful. I would however, recommend toe-socks and a generous shower of Johnson’s baby powder on a marble floor if you like skidding indoors though.

But coming back to Eid, on the second day, with our windows wide open, we heard a little Billy goat screaming in pain.

“Get the kitchen windows”, my mother yelled whilst she kung-fooed her way to the drawing room, and leaping over the couches like a black panther, clamped shut the large windows which overlook our garden in swift, ninja-like movements. Okay, I made that part up, but you get the picture.

Therefore, my week went by in one, gloriously lazy stupor (save for some spontaneous leaping through the air towards open windows) due to the Eid holidays, and followed by the weekend. Yay.

I watched episode upon episode of ‘Ugly Betty’ (Season 2), so much so that by the end of the holidays, I began looking like shaggy-haired, unkempt Betty Suarez, although my dog Bruce begs to differ. He’d love me even if I crawled out of bed looking like the Swamp Thing. Ah, who needs friends when you can have dogs? Okay that didn’t sound right.

This week I also finished reading ‘White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga. Adiga really deserved the ‘Man Booker Prize’ this year, and if any of you think the book is a dainty little metaphor heaven which romanticizes India, think again. The book is truly hardcore and the style of writing is simplistic, daring and very in-your-face.

It’s interesting because a few Indian critics have lambasted the book for portraying India incorrectly and somewhat cynically. But what Adiga does is he portrays the lives of the poor and under-privileged most aptly…infact in an interview about the research for the book, the author stated: “I spent a lot of my time loitering about train stations, or bus stands, or servants’ quarters and slums, and I listened and talked to the people around me. There’s a kind of continuous murmur or growl beneath middle-class life in India, and this noise never gets recorded.”

If you think about it, Adiga’s novel revolves around a theme similar to Arundathi Roy’s ‘God of Small Things’, as both Adiga and Roy have taken a very apparent truth and weaved it around stories of fiction. And the apparent truth is this: India’s still prevalent caste system and the discrimination that comes with it.

‘White Tiger’ is well-worth the buy, but its execution is poles apart to Roy’s ‘God of Small Things’.

On a lighter note, a family I know bought three goats this year to sacrifice over Eid. They’d named the little fellas Tinkoo, Chum Chum and Bobo. Feeding them over a two-week period and fattening them up good and proper, I wondered how terrorized (if at all) the couple’s kids must’ve been after the sacrifice was over. In other news, a friend of mine uploaded pictures of the Slaughter Fest onto his Facebook profile. I think I am, officially, scarred for life.

The Friday Times

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