Karachi Kahani..Sitarey, Siwayyan, Chooriyaan.
A Reminiscent Short Story By Meherzaidi.
Eid bhi ajab rang laati hai! Neelay, peelay, chamakte, chamakte!
We would all gather around the Mehndi waali, well in those days there were no professional mehndi waalis, just any lady in the house would be up to the job. All girls except me. Yuk, yuk, I would run away from the house and start playing in the Galli or nearest park. Parks were aplenty in Nazimabad number Chaar ,green lawns, flower beds and Jhoolas. I loved the swing, guess it did help me becoming so tall. All my troubles will be forgotten once I had my Baari, my turn on the swing, reaching higher and higher , almost touching the sky with my Chappal adorned feet. Then there were games like, Chupan Chupaie, Phisal Manda, Lattoo and Gilli Danda. I only played Chupan Chupaie, the hide and seek with almost half of Nazimabad number Chaar, as our space and the park was big enough . Phisal Manda I only played when in a naughty mood , when we would put soap bars, washing ones all over the covered verandah of our house and slip all over.
Life was so free, safe and childlike. All play, and no work. School work and school time just passed away. No tuitions, no difficulties. All rich and poor children studying together, playing together,singing together.
Eid would bring with itself great joy. Chaand Raat, Chooriyan ,Siwayyan and above all Eidi. We would bathe and dress in new clothes, shoes and be ready to receive the Eidi, crisp money when daddy returned from his Eid ki Namaaz. This ritualistic prayer was a very special occasion with menfolk. They would go to their various favorite places like, Polo ground, mostly government, rich, dignitaries and other political people. In Our Nazimabad, be it number, 1,2,3 or four, there were Maidaans, like Bara Maidan, Chota Maidaan. As soon as the menfolk returned we would all sit down and have the feast of breakfast which consisted of Kachoris, dahi baray,aloo cholay, which came much later in fashion maybe more availability or more Punjab influence. Then the traditional sweet meats like Gulab Jaman, Barfi, Pera, Baloo Shahi, Boondi Ke Laddoo, and our favorite ,Sheer Qorma. The semolina sweet milky, rich preparation had Khoya, Badam , Pista, Naryal and of course Khajoor. We would slurp, slurp , and slurp to our utter delight till our little bellies bursted and we would feel uncomfortable around the waist.
Life was a fun ride.
Then there were these shimmering Sitarey, the golden and colored shiny sequins, which made the scarf look magical. I would dream that I was a queen, a princess, a beautiful Nargis, when I would dance around playing with the Dopatta, too big for me as it would be made for a lady.
I did not like the other eid, the Baqra Eid as they called it. Smell of strange blood and meat still repulses me. Not being a vegetarian I still loathe this memory.
The bangles and the dresses were worn with love and longing. “Jab Tak Gota Kinari Se na sajay, achha nahi lage” would say an old lady as she would carefully handle a dress or a scarf. Simple ritual of adorning the clothes was another occasion. The Chooridar Pyjama is etched in my memory. I would carefully place a piece of paper and slip the cotton edge of this pajamas and made sure that all the creases were in place near the lower end of my legs. A Saleem Shahi Jooti would complete the picture. Dressed to kill , I would run out to play with my friends Salma, Ghazala, though much older in Nazimabad number Chaar. As I grew older, my father’s masjid became the Nursery mosque and my friends changed too but the flavors and the adornments of Eid remained the same and to this day all children in Karachi have this Eid whether in Nazimabad or Nursery or Defence. The sweat meat marts changed fromMulla Ahmed Halwai, Abdul Khalique, to Anjarwala,and Nirala though both shops have opened their other outlets. The variety also changed , more Bengali, Gujrati and even Arab sweets added. Now every area has good sweet shops and we know where the people are coming from when they bring the sweets as tokens for their love in weddings, Aqiqaas, Meelaads, and other occasions. Well multinational franchised goods like Dunkin Doughnuts never match this tradition. Somehow, I feel so unfulfilled, so unloved when a cake or doughnut or even brownie pack is gifted. I want my tradition. I want my childhood,. I want my memories of the sweetest days in Karachi.