Tuesday, November 15

Sombre Eid in the AJK

MUZAFFARABAD – Eid in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Capital was clearly different from the previous ones as the earthquake had marred the pleasures attached to the occasion, and people went to offer the Eid prayer more as a religious ritual than as a happy occasion.
All the people proceeding to the Eid gahs were in pensive mood and most of them had their eyes fixed to the ground. And those who were looking up, had empty glances. Hardly a few exchanged half-hearted smiles with their acquaintances, while the rest kept their sombre postures. While the people started gathering at the prayers places, even those few smiles diminished.
All the men were wearing old clothes and there were no gestures from them, which could depict the sense of Eid. No preparations had gone into the making of the event.
At the Upper Adda University Ground (Old Campus), where the Ameer Jama’at-e-Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmed led the Eid prayer, people started coming to the prayer ground, quite a while prior to the starting of the sermon. Most of them were not carrying prayer mats and sat where ever they got a place. However, quite a few were carrying sheets with them, and latecomers offered their prayer without prayer mats.
Prominent among the gathering were Chief Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan and Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik. They moved out of the prayer ground immediately after the Eid.
Among the gathering, there were a lot of people from the Punjab and Islamabad, who had reached there to ‘celebrated’ Eid with the quake-victims.
While sitting there during the sermon, one could hear them sobbing and holding back their cries though tears were rolling down their cheeks. No one was uttering any words till the Khutba was over and they hugged each other.
A man in his mid-forties said Eid Mubarak to another fellow. Innah Lilla Hay Wa Innah Illa Hay Rajeoon was the answer. This broke down quite a few into tears, who could over-hear them.
Most of them were weeping and consoling one another, while quite a few had could not utter any words. Most of them hugged each other just for once against the ritual of hugging thrice.
The losses seemed to have merged at one place, and every one was sharing their grief without uttering any words.
Various religious organisations had made arrangements at the tent villages erected at different places of the city. In Mera Tanolian, Minhaj Welfare Organisation had made an arrangement for the Eid. Victims, who had gathered there from the nearby tents, were seen weeping during the sermon and after the prayer.
On the other hand, women were seen crying in their tents. They had no Eid-related cooking, and had no clothes for Eid and remained in the same attires. Whereas quite a few of the males, had made efforts to provide at least clean clothes to children, if not new ones.
Maria Nazir, a student of 7th class, was accompanying her father Muhammad Nazir to their home in Garhi Dopatta. She was visibly shocked by the quake, as her life was transformed afterwards, and she could only utter broken sentences. “I do not have new clothes for this Eid. Four of my classfellows died on the fateful day,” she added, after quite a while. Nazir told that she did not pressed him for new clothes, as he had told her she would get new clothes next year.
Muhammad Safeer has purchased toys for his children, and a few items for cooking on the Eid day. Mureed Hussain Cheema was not happy with Safeer’s attitude, and he showed his resentment on Safeer’s face. “What Eid? It is a loss. No pleasures this time!” added Cheema.
People visited their relatives in tents. On the Eid day, almost every one went to the graveyards where they had buried their dear ones. A 4-year-old girl went to the grave of her father and put a pack of sweets – gifted by an NGO – and left the place quietly.
The Jallalabad Children Park has been turned into a tent village – housing 3245 persons of 345 families in 320 tents. During the last Eids, this Park used to be one of the most popular picnic spots, which was visited by families along with their children. On the Eid day, it was abuzz with children, but they were not happy and lively ones. A few young girls were wearing shinning clothes, but even these could not diminish the sombre mood, which was prevalent everywhere.
Survivor of the quake Sadia Kazmi is a 7th class student, and she was wearing old clothes. She was smiling occasionally, but was not talking at all. She was there to be lined up at the arrival of the dignitaries. Her elder sister had died apart from quite a large number of her class fellows. “God can rectify the situation,” she said before leaving.
Musarat, a mother of three, was sitting with her children in the park near to the tent. “We had normal life, but it is not. However, we are living on a hope that with life, you can manage all the things again. Most of my family members have died, and I will not be able to forget October 8 ever in my life,” she said. Musarat was hopeful of celebrating Eid next year because “it is only Allah, who can bless us with pleasures. But it seems that probably, nothing will get better again.”
It was a sorrowful city on the Eid day. There was life among children, who were playing in the park, but the elders seemed to be absorbing every moment, and falling short of uttering even a few cogent sentences, which could describe their feelings. There were fathers taking their kids around and mothers roaming with young ones. It was rare to find complete families around.
All the people seemed to have been attached through one common connection – they all have lost their dear ones, and property. Now they were living in tents. “How to celebrate Eid, when we know that we have lost our family members, friends, acquaintances, and valuables,” said Musarat, who just stopped short of crying aloud. (November 6, 2005)

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