The prayers were held at quarter past six sharp, men kneeling and bowing to their Lord, on the occasion of Eid ul Adha. Impeccably dressed men, mostly in white, with a few colors here and there, would then return home to prepare for the sacrifice of their animals. Animals some had raised with love and care for this moment or animals that had been bought at the last moment would all be equal in sacrifice. Then again, some animals are more equal than others.
Ali was one of the worshippers. At the young age of eight, his mother had dressed him in a crisp white tunic, and a salwar, paired with shoes from last year. He had to compromise on the shoes, she had said as she brushed his hair back. It wasn’t always that they got new clothes on Eid, so Ali hadn’t complained a bit, but he did pray to his Lord for new shoes.
After the prayers, he went back home to find his parents. They were talking about meat and animal prices and Ali’s mother hoped that like last year, their rich neighbors would send meat too. He was young but he understood the concept of sacrifice; people who could afford animals were obligated to give them away in the name of their Lord and distribute the meat to other people. People who bought animals also had to parade them around town so others could see they had meat to distribute. He hadn’t liked it when his friends from school had teased him about not having meat to distribute.
He dutifully went over to the bedroom he shared with his elder brother and found his copy of the book he wanted to read. Every year on Eid ul Adha, Ali would pick up the book and ask his parents to read it to him. This year, Ali could read the book himself. He was a good reader, and he knew this because his teacher often called on him to read out loud in class. It was the story of the prophet Ibrahim (A.S) and his son Ismail (A.S) which had led to the long tradition of the second Eid. He read it a few times over until he had to go.
Rather than the neighbors coming to their door to hand over the meat, he would go to them. He checked his appearance in the mirror and fixed a wayward strand of hair, and then, he was ready to go. He would go to the house with a cow because he overheard his dad saying it was a beautiful cow, which would result in good quality beef. He was a little sad for the cow, but he did like beef.
They had the gates of their house open and had already sacrificed the cow when he got there. The sight of blood made him a little queasy, but he stood firm. One of the men cutting the meat muttered out loud at the sight of him,
“Who’s that kid?”
“I’m here for the cow’s meat,” he piped, certain they would give it to him.
The man shook his head, “Go back home to your mother, there’s no meat here for you.”
Ali was befuddled. Contrary to what the man claimed, there was plenty of meat there and he pointed that out. Another man grasped him by his arm and roughly steered him away from the garage.
“This is no place for beggars, go away kid,” he grunted at him.
As the man let go of him and turned away, the boy lost his footing and fell into a mixture of blood and water, which had come from inside the garage. It splashed all over his new clothes, and old shoes. He felt angry at the men for ruining his clothes, so he got up with as much dignity as he managed and speedily walked back to his house.
There was so much meat to go around, what was the problem if he asked instead of waiting?
His parents scolded him when they saw the state he was in. He was made to scrub every inch of himself, and change into other, not new clothes. Too embarrassed at the incident, he lied and told them he fell.
It wasn’t until three in the afternoon that some neighbor dropped off a little plastic shopping bag of meat, which his mother immediately set to cooking.
By that time, Ali wasn’t sure he liked meat or Eid ul Adha very much.