Back in years that were more peaceful than these and festivals more full of joy and responsibilities less burdening than they are today – back then, in childhood are buried so many bitter-sweet memories!
Memories of laughter, the sheer joy of a free ice-cream scoop, gobbling peanuts in blankets careful not to leave evidence in the shape of shells, the thrill and fear of being caught after playing a prank, stealing and eating Kairis left out to dry in the summer sun for pickles, the adventure trips up the hill near my house and the park at the top of it, the silly cow-boy games influenced by a childhood I spent in the company of my rowdy cousins and festivals that brought with them immense happiness, colourful bangles, Henna and clothes smaller than those that fit me today.
The arrival of Eid ul Azha and a poem by a friend brought back a childhood memory today. I was 11 back then I suppose when with my cousins and sisters I raided the nearby henna camp (one of the many that sprout out on streets before Eid) like always! And while I debated with my cousin over which designs we will let the henna artist apply on our hands I noticed a pretty girl there. Dressed in sky blue, with cropped hair and eyes as green as emeralds, she sat on a wheelchair. It weren’t just her enigmatic green eyes, the very shade I am so fond of, or her hair cut that made me stare at her like a devotee but there was something very mesmerizing about her peaceful smile that drew me to her. Although back then, I wasn’t sure what I liked about her more, her looks or the glow on her face, but now when I think of it, I presume it was her inner peace and the sad radiant beauty that touched me through her smile!
How I wished then, that I could drag her off the wheel chair and make her walk or ask God to make a prince fall in love with her and keep her happy for the rest of her life. I kept stealing glances making sure that I don’t look like I am rudely staring at her and I shamelessly eavesdropped on her while she was talking to her friends, curious to know something about her. She was having henna applied on both of her hands at the same time and when it was done the henna artists asked her if she liked it. She brushed the hair off her face with the back off her hand and turned towards her friend. She stretched her hands towards her and asked “Well, how does it look? I hope it leaves a very red colour behind. You’ll have to tell me if it does, wont you.” Her friend hugged her and said, ” Your hands look the prettiest of us all!” She giggled and brought her hands close to her face and said in a small voice, “Wish I could see myself.” Her friend rubbed her shoulders and cheered her up with a quip. And they left the camp that day but stayed in my memory forever.
That day I really thanked God for everything and I still do when I reminisce that incident. I took joy in smelling henna-filled hands and appreciated the red colour more than ever that Eid-day, thankful that I could see and enjoy the beauty of it!
A huge thank you to Dr.Sraiya Nasim at the Paper Butterfly for her beautiful poem “ENVISION” that brought back a memory exactly when I needed to recall it. And Eid Mubarak to all dear readers! Sending Peace and good vibes your way.