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OP-ED: Pitstop on a snowy eve

  • Published at 05:52 am July 18th, 2021
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Why Qurbanir Eid is a time of transition

I still remember that time, the Qurbanir Eid of 2011. I was in class eight. It was during the middle of JSC exams, something that had been used as a bogeyman ever since we entered high school. Leading up to that, I had always had this strange intention of freezing up time for a year or so, and then letting it back up again. I had different reasons back then, sillier reasons, but the seeds of temporality had been sown inside of me. 

It was the middle of November. Most of the exams were over, and the ones that remained didn’t pose much of a challenge for me. Unlike the Eid before, I had a relative degree of freedom, as long as I at least showed an effort to study from time to time. Bhoot FM started the year before, and it was one of my favourite ways to spend Friday night. 

Before that, due to the schedule of the show, I was only allowed to hear parts of the show, and the nights I did manage to catch the whole show were spent with the fear that my parents were going to yell at me any minute. But during that time period, when I asked for my dad’s mobile phone, he happily handed it over to me and went to sleep. 

Not only that, I had free rein over the phone for the whole night, which led to me staying up till three in the morning and listening to music to calm my nerves. And when I could sleep in until 11 the next day and still get away with it, I knew that the dynamics around me had changed. 

Even now, Qurbanir Eid is a time of transitions. From Halloween to Bijoy Dibosh, everything that comes after has an underlying current of endings and beginnings. Halloween marks the ending of fall and signals the beginning of winter. Bijoy Dibosh heralds the end of our struggle and celebrates the initiation of our beginning. No matter where Qurbanir Eid is positioned in the temporal scheme of things, on the basis of a set year, it marks the end of our return to the real world, and starts counting down to the crack of a new dawn. 

Coming to the point of transition is like jumping into a lake with a strong current. Before getting in and getting out, the atmosphere is charged with dread and anxiety. But when you are right in the midst of the current, there is a sense of “now” that is pretty much unparalleled. What you were thinking about getting in doesn’t matter. What you will do when you get out, well, that comes later. 

What exists is a present that stretches to the very limits of eternity, where there is no past and no future. It is the reason that poets sing about never-ending roads. It is the reason that a simple trip to Chandpur while staying in a cabin can be so therapeutic. Past and future cease to exist, and the only thing that remains is now -- a spectacular, peaceful now. It’s like free-falling, where everything that is weighing down your body ceases to exist. No wonder it is so coveted, even after the stress that is associated with it. 

And ever since that fateful time in 2011, every Qurbanir Eid has been measured against it. Many have surpassed it, while many haven’t come close. But the Qurbanir Eid of 2011 hits the perfect sweet spot when it comes to this transitory aspect. Because it was the perfect milestone between my childhood and adulthood. I had the freedom to do pretty much what I wanted, without the debilitating freedom of money. I had the freedom to stay out until 11, without thinking about all the time I was wasting. I had the freedom to read books without worrying about whether I was getting it or not. 

Most importantly, I had the freedom to live without having to consider the unpredictable nature of life. Do this, and this will happen. Take this path and this will happen. It was a magic trick, where the myth of adulthood had come to life. And even though it would last for a mere two years after that, I am still grateful that I got to experience it. 

Every Qurbanir Eid, a particular picture comes to mind. It’s Saturday. I had been up almost the whole night before listening to the radio. There is a magnificent autumn sunlight coming through the veranda. There is only your mom at home, and dad is downstairs. Soon after waking up, your pals in the neighbourhood call you out to chill. It’s barely 11, but it doesn’t matter, because you don’t have to be shackled by the many peculiarities of life, not yet. 

Every year, it is the same image. 

Every year, it feels like I’m trying to recall a dream that never took place. 

Haruki Murakami once said that memories are the fuel we burn to keep ourselves going. Well, anyone know where I can get a refill? 

I know I am asking for the impossible, but anyone? 

Anyone? 

Nafis Shahriar is a student of business and an intern at the Dhaka Tribune.

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