Maisha Islam Monamee
I was first introduced to Zakat when I saw my elder cousin jumping in glee on receiving a new shirt. His previous attire was adorned by a few holes here and there, and with a new shirt for Eid, his happiness knew no bounds.
“The Khans are pretty generous. This year, they have distributed over 1000 clothes, all new.”
“Did you get to choose your shirt?” I asked.
“No. But they had kept the best one for me.”
My ten-year-old mind instantly associated Zakat with a festival of receiving gifts. I was lost in day-dreams of next Eid when I heard my mother shouting.
“I went to collect the saree. Let me keep it, I did not get one last year as well.”
“You couldn’t get there alone. Rahim took you along so you could bring this saree for me.”
My aunt snatched away the packet from my mother’s hand. With eyes full of tears she left the room.
“Maa, why don’t you go and tell the Khans that you need another saree!”
She hugged me tightly and burst into another round of tears.
I noticed her torn saree from a closer angle. As she kept on weeping, holding me to the chest, I didn’t quite understand what went wrong. But, I was determined to serve her a happier Eid. So, I set forth towards the Khan house.
Halfway through the journey, it started raining. I ran under the nearest tree but soon realised that it was getting dark. I was frightened and wanted to go back home, but I had lost my way.
Moaning and crying, I kept walking through the rain. The sight of a large white building elevated my fear. On going near, I couldn’t believe my eyes, I had reached Khan house.
The large silver gate was now closed. Through the small holes, I could see a few children of my age, drenching happily in the rain. Soon, a woman dressed in a beautiful attire ran down and took them inside. I could see her wiping their heads. This reminded me of Maa and I opened the door.
“Get off, lad. What do you want?” someone shrieked behind me.
I did not care and kept walking across the courtyard. I could see women running here and there, busy in cooking, while few men sat on the sofa placed in their decorated balcony. There was a smell of good food, something I had never smelt before. I happily entered their balcony, where a few unfamiliar faces stared at me.
“He’s so dirty. Why is he here?” I heard someone whispering.
Before I could address the voice, a man stood up in front of me.
“Why are you here?”
“I want a new saree for my Maa. She got one from here in the morning but my elder aunt has taken it.”
“We are done with the Zakat for this Eid.”
“But what about our gifts?”
The man took out a crisp note from his pocket and handed it over to me. Everyone else gasped.
“I want a saree, not money!”
I threw away the note. The man now got furious and called upon a few other people.
They dragged me out of the courtyard and threw me outside the gates. The silver gates closed once again.
I kept crying for the saree, but no one came back. Disheartened, I started walking back home. I did not know which way to go but I kept walking. The storm got fierce and soon, I was tired of the journey. I sat under a tree to get some rest.
There was a loud noise and a bright light in the sky and suddenly the tree fell down. I screamed and howled for help. Just minutes before everything went pitch black, I saw my Maa running towards me in a new saree.
“Maa… You got a new saree.”