Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eid Saga

by: Tala Abu Rahmeh

After watching Santa selling balloons in downtown Ramallah the night before Eid, I left the bustling town to go to Aboud.

Aboud, my mother's hometown, is a village 30 minutes away from Ramallah. Its residential stretch is the size of a long narrow street, surrounded by gorgeous hills that overlook the coast. It's going to take me years to understand the culture of that tiny village, especially when it's one of the few ones housing Muslims and Christians side by side.

The reason we had to go there on the first day of Eid Al Fitir, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan's fast, is because it's the first Eid following my grandma's death. Apparently, her house had to be open to visitors who wanted to commemorate her passing. I sat with my aunts at my grandmother's deserted home, shaking the hands of tens of women coming in and out. All of them knew who I was (the daughter of the dead mom and grandma), but I had no idea who most of them were (pretty awkward).

The conversations swung from dead relatives to living ones that have royally messed up in the past few years. I had no idea who most of the characters were so I hungout with the little kids. What I found most fascinating were the toys; all made in china, each kid had a collection of plastic guns, a plastic Winni the Po character, and a fake plastic phone. It's obvious that these toys were especially imported for Eid since the phone sang a strange, barely audible song about Makka, and had a picture of a religious singer dude in a grey suit. I couldn't believe the constant sound of exploding fireworks in a town that is still echoing the memory of Israeli army jeeps and past-midnight gunshots. Perhaps the kids try to gain control by inflicting the noises themselves.

Granny's house felt sad. For a little family that lost three of its members in the past three years, the idea of spreading Eid cheer seemed unrealistic. I spent little snippets of my afternoon looking for old pictures of my mother in grandma's room. Grandma owned one of those ever expanding beds that had a little cassette player embedded in them. I imagined my grandparents laying in bed on lazy Friday afternoons listening to old songs, then granny getting up to bake fresh bread dripping olive oil and za'atar, cheese, and delicious farm eggs from chickens she herself fed.

My grandmother was not the nicest person; she judged people too quickly, was short tempered, thought men had a higher status in the world than women, and always prayed for Allah to inspire me to wear a hijab, but my grandmother was two things that will always move me: righteous, and courageous. She fought for my mother, aunts and uncles to get a stellar education (my mother was the first girl from her village to get a high school then collage eduction), and she always rooted herself on the side of whatever/whoever she believed was right. If my grandmother loved you, you can always count on her to be there for you, argue for you, and unleash wrath on whoever would dare to bother you. The concept of objective and neutral were alien to her.

This eid, my first in four years, felt like an ode to santa and grandma. May santa live forever in downtown Ramallah and hand kids balloons to celebrate all days, bitter and sweet, and may my grandmother float inside of my sky and help me be unabashedly loving, courageous and loud!

Hope y'all have a Merry Eid.