It is now three thirty in the afternoon and my column is due in the editor’s mail box within the next two hours. I am running late because I have been out in search of happiness - in the form of sacrificial goats.

It all started 10 days ago, when my wife summoned a family council and declared that this year we would not put our share in ‘beef on hoof’, but would sacrifice the required number of goats for Eid. No amount of protestation from my side, lamely supported by my eldest son-in-law, could swing the decision my way - leaving no option, but to comply.

I immediately put pen to paper in order to draw up a plan that would guarantee the successful completion of the task assigned to me. My list included identification of likely sites, where my target could be found. I then drew up various scenarios and did a cost-benefit analysis that would help arrive at options, in order of priority.

I found that scenarios fell into three main categories much like the hidden object games on internet. These were ‘the mandi’, ‘my friend the police officer’ and ‘the stone house with the dogs’. The analysis revealed that while the first two categories were workable, the third involved some risk as it entailed quietly entering a hostile compound guarded by a pair of uncouth canines, untying what we had come for and then leaving the premises without waking up the neighbourhood. Forcing discretion to prevail upon valour, I decided to drop this option and grinding my teeth, launched myself into the adventure of a lifetime.

Knowing something about how Napoleon defeated his enemies and strategised his battles, I decided to employ the inside out concept. This entailed covering locations inside Islamabad and then working my way in ever widening circles to the rural scene.

I spotted the first goat camp in the vicinity of a busy commercial area and armed with the undeniable knowledge that the brotherhood of goat-herders-turned-head-hunters considered ‘sahib-like’ car owners as great trophies, I parked my car behind an empty truck, a 100 meters away from the rope corral. As I locked my vehicle and started walking towards the objective, a head stuck itself out of the truck window and a loud voice proclaimed my arrival to the rest of the pack with the additive ‘gaddi-walaee’ (this guy owns a car). The rest of the episode is a Shakespearian tragedy that ended without the goat changing hands or should I say ‘tethering pegs’.

I spent a goodly part of the next six days (and a ‘financially debilitating’ amount of petrol) in visiting more camps in various disguises that in no way represented a ‘gaddi-walla’ sahib. Returning unsuccessful from these forays and facing an increasing number of ‘looks’ from my family, I decided to implement the next phase of my plan without any more delay.

I hit the jackpot the very next day in a rural gathering of the goats, some 10 kilometres from the federal capital and closed the deal. As the animals were unloaded at my house in suburban Islamabad, my driver, who has been with the family for as long as I can remember, took one look at the goats and said: “But sahib, you have bought ‘bakris’ and not ‘bakras’.” Not willing to admit that the gender difference had not occurred to me, I said that it did not matter if the sacrificial animal was male or female. “But did you check if the animals were pregnant because in my reckoning they are?” came the next bombshell that left me searching for an appropriate response, since I had never considered the angle because of my inadequacy in matters veterinary.

To cut the story short and give it a happy conclusion, I am happy to report that I have completed the mission assigned to me by moving away from tradition and ordering, via telephone, a pair of goats to be sacrificed on the auspicious day, at the Islamabad meat shop that we have been patronising for more than two decades. I am also reporting this to you dear readers, for if otherwise, this column would never have been written.

    The writer is a freelance columnist.