The perfect white fence
“Did you know that in the original story it wasn’t Snow White’s stepmother, it was her mother?” Minhaz asks. “Can you imagine that?”
Imagine that. There’s nothing like sitting with your friends on a warm Sehri night and talking about old tales. As Eid is nearing, I have been thinking about the many ways festivities are perceived in different ways to people. While we’re all busy with the last minute preparations for Eid, prepping for the food, our attires, the small gifts, getaways and travel plans, we tend to forget the other side of the coin, the times when festivities feel like being inside a container where the air is constantly being sucked out of it.
“Festivities are meant to be the time when everyone and everything comes together perfectly, or we try to make them. However, just like the original Snow White, some people find themselves without the perfect white fence.” I tell them.
Raad adds, “We never know what’s going on with anyone, till we’ve been them.”
“My bhabi does all this elaborate things on Eid, she tries to get gifts for the entire extended family. I think she was locked up in her room for days after Eid,” Nabila mentions.
“We try to put unrealistic expectations on things, in all honesty.” I add. “This year we’ll hear about the expensive parties, the expensive clothes, the new ‘in’ things. Come next Eid, we’ll hear about the many ways people get the most expensive sacrifice. It’s a vicious cycle of consumerism taking over our well-being.”
“Yes, and we start comparing our insides to someone else’s outsides. We see the perfect version of a family, the perfect version of what happiness should look like and we start comparing it with that,” says Raad.
“This is all considering people have something to hold on to. Some of us aren’t too lucky to hold on to much”, Fahmida tells us. Before the quiet sets in, “Oh, cheer up. So I’m without a family this holiday. I still have you guys.”
“It’s not bad, wanting to be happy. Wanting the nicest thing for yourself on festivities, wanting to make people happy. What is bad is that we slack on self-care. Finding the line. Exercising the line,” Minhaz says.
We sit in silence for a while after the food is done. The empty plates are to be washed, I leave it to the maid to do it in the morning. Husband yawns and goes back to sleep, and our friends and I settle around the balcony. Wisps of light blue start appearing on the corner of the sky and Minhaz starts smoking.
“Don’t look at me that way, I won’t get to smoke all day,” he says.
Everyone’s drowsy, but nobody is going towards the guest room to pass out. We set the additional mattresses and we wait till the sun rises, before we can have the last sip of water.
“Minhaz, you’re right. I think it’s important to make the best out of the day. Make it your own version of the best festival you want it to be. Follow the day by the book or not, it should be a day you’re comfortable with.” I tell him.
“And avoid self-destruction,” says Fahmida.
“Accept that you can’t control people around you. And do not feel guilty when you can’t appease everyone,” Nabila adds.
“Practice gratitude. Find happiness in smallest things. For, this too shall pass.”
*All characters in this article are fictional, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.