Don't dream, when you can't make it real. They're only fictions anyway - Moddi, A Sense of Grey

Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance, in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance, when you're perfectly free - Rumi

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Nov 5, 2011

Give It All Up, Just For You

In a couple of days, the Muslim world will be celebrating Eid-ul-Azha (the Greater Eid). It is a very sacred festival, one which marks a great sacrifice done in the path of Allah by his most devoted of followers, Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail. 
The history behind this is extremely interesting. Prophet Ibrahim did not have any children, but after years of prayers, God granted him a son whom he named Ismail. When Hazrat Ismail was around 13 years old, Hazrat Ibrahim started having recurring dreams where he was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his only son by slitting his throat. It was to be the greatest test of faith for both Ibrahim and Ismail. When Hazrat Ibrahim consulted Hazrat Ismail on this matter, the latter immediately agreed to lay down his life in the path of Allah. Just as the father was about to take away his son's life, Allah called out to him and he was asked to stop and replace his son with a ram. Basically, this act of both father and son was to show that nothing was dearer to them than to please Allah and Allah showed his mercy by replacing the son with a ram. Every year, Muslims world over commemorate this event by sacrificing a domestic animal in the way of Allah. 
When I was really young, I used to love this festival. I still do, but a part of me is unable to fully revel in the merriment that surrounds this day. Our family always used to buy a goat and as kids mostly are, I was fascinated by the animal. All day long I would feed it and take it for walks in the neighbourhood with the other children and their animals. I would talk to it and tell it stories. Once I even sat on it and my grandmother told me that I had sat on a sacrificial animal and it would curse me so that I would never grow taller. Mom says its just an old wives tale, but I'm just 5'1" so I often wonder.....
So anyway, every year, a week before Eid my grandfather would bring a goat and a week later it would be gone. I had no idea where; I'd come down to feed it, but there was no trace of any animal ever  having being there. No fodder or water, not even the smell of its waste.
When I'd ask my mom about it, she would just say its in a better place and I thought it meant a bigger house with a much bigger garden. Little did I know! But the year I turned 13, I decided I had had enough. This year I wouldn't let the goat leave without saying goodbye. I stayed awake all night and ran downstairs early morning to find an extremely ugly man holding down my precious little "chimpi" (that's what I named it) and I screamed when he slit its throat. I threw up, cried, threw up some more. Basically, it was drama central. Later, my dad explained the whole history behind it and it calmed me down a little. But ever since then, I have never eaten meat from a sacrificed animal of our house. I don't even go down to see the animal or acknowledge its presence.
This year, however, we've got a goat and boy, does it make its presence felt.
Say Hello to Chewbakra

Its been mmeeehingggg all day so after much deliberation, I decided to go give it company. I know this sounds crazy, but I think it was feeling really lonely. When I went down and sat with it for a bit, it totally shut up. I fed it and spoke to it. It actually acknowledges what you say and sort of shakes its head or bumps its head against you in response. I think it already knows its purpose and is at peace with it. I suppose that makes me feel at peace with this as well. I don't think I'll ever eat the meat, but I don't feel so unsettled about Eid-ul-Azha anymore.

So Eid Mubarak everyone. Hope it's awesome.


  1. I found the "bigger house with a much bigger garden" thought very endearing, and thus Chimpi's demise that much more heartbreaking. What a scene that must have been...

    How does your family feel about your refusing to consume sacrificed meals? Are they more understanding or annoyed by it?

    Chewbakra's a very cute creature, even by goat standards. I can't imagine having to go through that each and every year though.

  2. Ya, Chimpi's sacrifice was a very traumatic day. The scene was very dramatic; a lot of screaming and shouting and pulling and pushing.
    My family doesn't appreciate it much. They consider it sacrilegious. But they don't bother me about it too much.