I cannot say about others, but ‘Eid-e-Qurban’ in my family is accompanied by chaos and mayhem, which begins a week before the festival itself and miraculously sorts itself out, leaving behind fond memories and perhaps even anticipation of next year’s event. It all starts with a conference call between my better half, my offspring and their spouses to decide the nature and pedigree of the animals to be sacrificed. The discussion normally lasts for a quarter of an hour, by which time the original single point agenda disappears into a list of discussion items such as beauty parlor appointments, dresses, who to invite for the traditional family brunch, mehndi and bangles (just to name a few). It is after a series of such consultations, which involve expert inputs from members of our domestic staff led by the indomitable Amma Ji (a giant of a woman from around Fateh Jang) that a decision is finally taken whether the creature under the knife would be mutton or beef.

Faced with the daunting task of purchasing the animals, another round of meetings is called to order. A heated debate takes place to decide whether to bring home the meat on hoof, some days before the sacrifice or wait till the last moment in the hope of striking a good bargain. It is the latter notion which normally carries the day with variable results.

Amma Ji is given command of the ‘volunteers’, whose job is to locate a suitable source, run the gauntlet of selection, negotiation and purchase. I have yet to decide if it is the imposing Amazonian figure of the lady from Fateh Jang, her knowledge of the bovine world or her rugged and no-holds-barred potohari speech, but I have seen the toughest of ‘mandi wallahs’ wither in her presence. We return victorious, accompanied by our prize and furtive rearward glances show the dealers wiping sweat off their brows and heaving sighs of relief at the sight of Amma Ji’s retreating figure.

Then begins the quest to find someone, who can slaughter the animal, since our regular meat shop butcher is declared a definite ‘no no’ because of his dictatorial one sided terms. It is during this phase that we come across numerous tailors, on leave government and domestic employees, malis, masons and mechanics, who have assumed the role of butchers. We were naïve enough on a bygone Eid to hire one such team (in panic), only to witness an unforgettable demonstration of how slaughtering should never be done. Any doubts that we had on the expertise on display disappeared, when one member of the blood spattered trio, added a part of his finger to the meat. We later discovered that the gentlemen in question were blacksmiths turned ‘one day butchers’.

The day after Eid is reserved for a BBQ. A dozen or more amateur cooks gather around the grill amidst encouragement from another two dozen onlookers. I am happy to report that we successfully steer through this exercise, which I am certain would give the Master Chef judges a heart attack. Last Eid, we decided to shift the venue of this event into more natural surroundings and chose a spot near Angoori for the purpose. Now Angoori is a wonderful piece of God’s earth, blanketed by dense growths of pine and weather to match. Everything went well till such time that our cookhouse site began to irritate a giant sized bull grazing in the vicinity. My son insists that it was the color of his cousin’s bright red car, which provoked the belligerent creature, which after a brief introspection, charged the cookout site scattering us to the winds. We returned home, chastised and wondering if the bull was a related to the animal, which had provided us with the meat for the cookout.

It was just yesterday that I overheard my wife telling one of our daughters that perhaps it would be in the fitness of things (though not the purse) to get in touch with one of the fancy meat shops now sprouting across the Federal Capital, when the next Eid approaches. I am inclined to welcome the idea, since I do not want to go through the experience of seeing part of a ‘pinky’ staring at me from a tray of freshly dressed meat.