A father’s gift on Eid

“You can’t touch my goat,” Sahil’s face paled with anger

Feroza’s eyes were suddenly watery with tears

She bustled away, embarrassed

Sahil always treated her disdainfully, as if she were something unclean

He never let her close to his things

He always told her she was ugly and poor and that when he grew up, he wouldn’t let her live in his house

When Feroza was back in her room, she thought that if she had a goat of her own, she wouldn’t have had to ask Sahil

But Abba (father) had clearly told her that he didn’t have enough money to buy one for her

Feroza closed her eyes, and a single tear trickled down her face

Farid spent the whole day working in the kitchen

There was always work piled up for him

Baji (madam) and Sahib (sir) only let him go to his quarters late at night, before they retired to their room

Farid felt a pain stabbing his arm as he placed the crockery on the shelves

He realised he was old now and easily tired

His body ached all over and he couldn’t work all day

He was weaker than before

His clothes hung loosely on him, and his skin looked drawn

He felt as if he were a different man now

When he got free from work that night, he lingered in the garden before returning to his room

Overhead, the sky was dark blue and glowing with stars

Farid felt a sinking feeling in his heart

He was thinking about Feroza

She was growing up

Her eyes twinkled with dreams that might never come true

The thought filled him with sadness

She had told him she too wanted a goat for Eid, just like the one that Sahil’s father had gotten for him

Farid told her that he was too poor

He bought her new clothes for Eid, but that was all he could afford with his meagre income

As the night dragged on, Farid’s thoughts scattered into the hot summer air

He strolled in the dark night for hours

At dawn, as the colours slowly crept back into the world, he returned to his room and sank into a deep sleep

Abba burst into the room and said, “Feroza, there you are

Pack your things, we’re going to the village

” “We’re what?” Feroza replied

Feroza didn’t know a world outside Lahore

She didn’t even know they had a village

Abba had never told her

She still found it hard to believe him

Abba reassured her that they had a beautiful village that was hours away from Lahore and that she had to hurry up

A shadow of doubt crossed Feroza’s face, but she got up and packed her things

Eid was only a day away and the bus station bustled with people

A wave of excitement washed over Feroza

She had never seen so many people in one place

When she sat on the bus, with Abba beside her, she only thought about her village and what she would do there

They reached at sunset

Farid unlocked the house and showed Feroza in

“This was my parents’ house,” Farid’s voice cracked

“I grew up here

” Feroza’s eyes twinkled

He realised he had made the right decision by bringing her here for Eid

“A lot of people around us have goats, and they’ll let you play with them, unlike Sahil,” Farid smiled at Feroza

The next day, Farid showed Feroza around the village and took her to his relatives’ houses

Feroza got along with everyone

She played with their animals

Her laughter blossomed in the air like flowers in a field

Farid had never seen her happier

They spent Eid day at Anaar Khan’s house

Feroza cried bitter tears when the butcher slaughtered three goats in the courtyard

“Abba, I don’t want a goat anymore,” she said

Farid squeezed her hand and told her this Eid was meant to teach them the importance of sacrifice

At night, Feroza lay huddled next to Farid on the charpai (woven bed)

There was silence around them except for a fan whirling noisily above them

“Abba, can’t we live here forever,” Feroza asked quietly

Farid didn’t answer

He only looked at her sadly

The sky was clear blue, and a biting wind wafted in the air

It was Feroza’s and her father’s last day in the village

Abba looked glum

The lines on his face had deepened in one night, and he looked years older

Feroza knew he was upset about leaving his parents’ home

And she was too

Back in Lahore, Sahil made fun of her and Abba

No one talked to her, no one played with her

But in the village people were friendlier

They were more like her

When they finally stepped out of the house, with their belongings swinging behind their backs, Feroza looked back with tears in her eyes

“This is my true home,” she whispered

Abba looked down at her, his eyes dark pools of sorrow

She realised he was crying too

Date:12-Aug-2019 Reference:View Original Link