I have always loved Eid. When I was a child, I loved it for the money. As a teen, I loved the extra day off school. As an adult, I love the long, slow stirring of the halwa, then curling up to eat and share memories with Joe. Long ago, before Mir, I’d often make extra halwa for friends, Muslims and India-philes alike.
This Eid, though, I’m terrified. Every time I think of the mound of cooking (and dishes) awaiting me in The World’s Smallest Kitchen, my heart skips around and I slide back into old nail-biting territory. This is Baby’s First Eid and I want--I need--it to be perfect.
Although I don’t fast, Eid is one of my favorite holidays. And that’s saying something in a house that celebrates birthdays, unbirthdays, Easter, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day. (I’m considering adding Rosh Hashanah, too.) The visiting, the eating of the horrid seviyan, the chasing of friends, cousins, and neighbors are things I wish I could bottle and spritz around the room to give Mir a sense of what Eid is, and why we say Eid Mubarak. Living here, though, I’m not connected with the local mosque or community, my family is intangibly far away, and I have no idea how to give Mir the perfect first Eid experience.
In a (probably misguided) effort to bring Eid to baby, my game plan is to cook. We’ll have pilau like my mum and dad used to make (but with fake chicken), dal, baingan, bhajia, sliced mangoes, roti, raita, tomato and onion salad, halwa, and ice cream. Unlike last year I’ll cook it all from scratch; I’ve even pulled down the mortar and pestle to pound up garlic and grind my own spices. For me, though, this sort of a cooking is a whole-day affair, something I haven’t attempted since Mir was born. And that’s on top of the rest of my Friday schedule: two interviews, a deadline, and a baby who bites (and stomps his foot) if baby-time becomes screen-time, or kitchen-time, or showering-time.
My fantasy Eid-ul-fitr goes like this: up at 6, I fit in a run, then head back to the house to shower and get dressed. Baby is still asleep, so I put on the pilau, then do my phone interview. When Mir wakes up, he has breakfast, Joe and I have tea, I turn off the pilau, and we walk Joe to work, then wander around for a while. Later, while Mir has the longest nap of his life, I do my face-to-face interview, rush home, and put on all the other cooked dishes. Come evening, Joe plays with Mir while I finish up the cooking and hit my deadline, then we all sit down to eat. The problem? The entire day has us on the run, and I’ve scheduled my child to nap for so many hours that I’d be lucky to talk to him for more than five minutes all day.
Is it ridiculous to try and cook an Eid meal with everything else that’s going on in my life? Yes. Will I manage everything? Probably not. I may have to forgo washing my hair, the better part of the grocery shopping, and stay up into the wee small hours to hit my deadline. I might have to let go of the roti and the bhajia, or send Joe down to Passage to India to make up the deficiency. I won’t know until I try. And as terrifying as it is, as worried as I am about failing, or letting Mir down, I want to try. Because Eid is about family, and slowing down, and appreciating the little things. I may not be able to bottle my childhood memories, but I can let the dal burn if it means giving Mir a special day with all the things he loves best in the world: mummy, daddy, and something a little sweet to eat.