The phone is ringing. It is a call from home. I am sure; my younger sister has called me. Last few days, her magnitude of calling me from my mother’s mobile has been increased. She has only one thing to ask, “Bhaiya! Have you got the money? Every time I answered with shaky voice, ‘not yet. But do not worry; I am going to get it
before Eid.’ I can only collect the money of the scholarship if the result is published. Certainly she will ask me the same question today. My temper is not good at this time. I came to know, no result will be published before Eid for any unexplained reason. I promised to my little sister that we will sacrifice a goat in the next Eid at any cost. She does not eat beef. We, therefore, hoped that someone might give us mutton that Eid. But no one gave it. None of, my mother or me, had not any capacity to feed her mutton buying from market. I got pinched in my heart. The next day I promised her, look, we will sacrifice a goat in the coming Eid, I want to see how much meat can you eat. Hearing this she laughed, ‘Is it true? Otherwise I will not talk with you. It must be – I replied with great pride. Since then, she started counting down the day and she would ask the same question every time when I would go to home. Being bored Mother scolded, ‘where we cannot eat full 2 times in a day, what a crazy hobby it is!’ I gave hope to mom, this time, we will really sacrifice. In reply, mom was silent. May be Mom understood that I am giving false hope to my sister. But mom got hope one time, seeing my constant obstinacy and said, Baba! Can you really do it? I replied firmly- it must be. ‘Then that would be fine, we had not been sacrificing anything for many years after the death of your father’. I received the phone. I left off the phone reprimanding her. My mood changed toward bad. I remembered my childhood. I could not remember my father. Where I could eat meat once or twice, by chance, in a year; there thinking about sacrificing something was our outsized dream. The sacrifice of our nearby uncle would mean our sacrifice. I could recall; I, too, would go to the field of sacrificing animal with uncle’s sons of my age. I would catch the leg of the cow while they took off the skin. My mom would chop and clean their meat and return home with little meat. We would wait with great passion when mom would cook that meat. The way I have thought, may be my sister could not think likewise. However, I managed 5000 taka troubling a lot. I got peace inside my mind being able to keep my word to my sister. I got up into the night train making everything ready. I kept the money inside the bag, not keeping into the pocket, thinking about safety. I could not even notice when I slept due to the tiredness of the day and trembling of the train. While I got up from sleep, I saw my bag was not there in my lap. It was like the broken sky fell on my head. I returned home somehow with tiredness. No sooner had I reached the home, my sister came to me and asked hugging me, ‘Bhaiya! Are we sacrificing? Taking relief from my sister, I silently sat in the room. The next day, I told my mom what happened and said not to say anything to my sister. But she heard everything from hiding and started crying. Mom slapped her. She fled away when she was slapped. That time, too, my sister could not eat meat during Eid. But this time, my little sister, you do not have to stay without eating meat. I have saved money, and I am not going to sleep in the train, I will wake up the whole night if needed.
Writer: Akram, University of Dhaka
Translator: Foyasal Khan, International Islamic University Malaysia
Published in ‘Prothom Alo’ on October 20, 2012