Eid depresses me as an immigrant.
The Moon Wars – this phenomenon of two or three different Eid days because some people must wait to see the moon with the naked eye, and others accept the more reliable astronomical calculation – exacerbate our isolation. Today, for instance: we hurried to go to Eid namaz at our nearby mosque, only to find it shuttered. It turned out that they were celebrating Eid by the moonsighting method. The moonsighters were up late-late last night, waiting for moonsighting reports.
An email was sent at 1am to confirm that Eid prayer was not to be held today.
Yes, we missed that 1am email. Hence the ludicrous display of a small family, including a child, dressed in their Eid finery, knocking desolately at a quiet, empty mosque.
Most of the people we typically hang out with are celebrating Eid tomorrow. The others are celebrating with their parents and in-laws in the exurbs.
My spouse took a day off today. Then we discovered that the one Eid get-together we had planned was moved to Wednesday. Now my spouse is spending the day working at home to compensate for that additional day he has to take off. So festive.
Being isolated for Eid, having to scrounge and scavenge for time with my family, – these are all just ways for me to focus to a fine stabbing point how much Eid generally depresses me as an immigrant. And I’ve got a family. Imagine how much worse it could be, and how much worse it is for so many.
This is also the first Eid with abbu not in this world. My world back in the homeland has changed, and is threatening complete change.
Having an Eid prayer where we can see people, feel real, yes this is a celebration, look at all those people celebrating – having places to go, are all ways for me to bury those feelings.
Too often, I am left with no ways to bury my ambivalence.
So much have we moved around (for work, not by choice) that every bit of community has to be hard-earned by effort and travel, waiting for it to bear fruit in natural camaraderie. At which point, I suspect, we will have to move again.
Every little obstacle is another way to kill the vibe. Even the very hard voice on the automated call from Chicago Public Schools telling me your child has an unexcused absence from school today threatens to kill the Eid vibe.
I’m irritable. I’m struggling, cooking desserts and lamb chops on my own, to clean the house and make it Eid-worthy (no, no special Eid decorations; getting the dishes done was our achievement) and to plan things to do.
Ultimately I am tired and frustrated because it is not fun. It is too hard. My body is tired. My heart is weary. I am sleep deprived from Ramzan. And now my family are annoyed by my irritability. So now I am truly alone. Eid Mubarak. May God forgive us, and some day may we all be granted the Home which abides.
So today this poem I wrote in 2005 is 14 years old, and still relevant.