The innocent eyes of eight-year-old Aisha lit up with excitement as she saw the festivities of Eid starting to unfold at her house. One by one, her two older brothers and her sister arrived to spend their holidays in their small village home together with her and her parents. She was seeing them after six months. Or maybe it was seven. She had lost count. For most of the year, her brothers and sisters lived in the commercial hub of Dhaka for work and barely visited the old village.
However, today Aisha was most impatient to meet her little cousins. Her uncles and aunts had also decided to spend their Eid holidays in the village home this year which meant she would get to play with her five little cousins throughout the whole week. Who could possibly have a better holiday than her!
Trying out the new dress that her sister had brought for her, Aisha casually marched into the kitchen to show it to her mom who was lost in her own world of cooking lunch for the family. Her mother shot a quick glance at her, complimented the new outfit, and hastily turned her attention back to the sizzling pot of beef curry.
“Maa, did you even look?”, demanded Aisha with much irritation.
“Of course, I did Puchku?” reassured her mother, swiftly grabbing a pinch of spices from her exotic masala-box and sprinkling on top of the pot.
“What’s that?”, asked Aisha indifferently as she settled down on the low stool beside the stove.
“Salt and pepper.”
“Why’d you add just a tiny pinch for such a big pot of curry?”
“Cause all you need is just a tiny bit of it to make the food perfect.”, replied her mother. “You know, after your father and I got marrie–”
Before her mother could finish the sentence, Aisha’s five little cousins ran into the house through the front door and darted straight into the kitchen with a deafening shriek and hugged her. Her uncle’s family was finally here! Aisha screamed and instantly ran out of the kitchen to play with them; now, she was officially on cloud nine!
Throughout the whole evening, the house erupted in pandemonium as the kids played around with joy. Aisha rarely experienced these occasions when all her cousins were together under one roof. They played hide-and-seek in the house and badminton out in the yard. Her aunts and uncles brought a lot of gifts for her from the city. They showered her with a so much love and affection that she thought she would melt like a sundae. It was amazing! At dinner, she found out that her mother had prepared some of her favorite dishes like mutton biryani, chicken tikka, and fried prawns – could this day get any better?
After the long, dreamy day, Aisha finally creeped into bed with her mother. She was exhausted but completely satisfied. With sleepy eyes, she started reminiscing all the beautiful moments of the day. But deep down, she was also feeling sad. With the blink of an eye, the holiday week would pass, and everyone would be gone from their house.
“Maa, why can’t chachu, chachi, and all my cousins stay together with us all the time? Wouldn’t it be so much fun?”, Aisha whispered silently.
Her mother smiled. “Maybe it would, Puchku. But, you see, some moments are magical only because they happen once in a while. They are so precious to you because they are so rare. All you need is just a tiny bit of them to make life perfect.”
“Just like salt and pepper?”, asked Aisha.
“Just like salt and pepper.”, whispered her mother as she kissed her goodnight.
Written by KAZI NIAZ AHMED (ABIR)