Islamic Fiction Contest Winner - 2012
IWA Member Category - 2nd Place
Sweet Nena Welcomes Eid al-Adha
by: Fawzia Gilani-Williams
Once upon a time in a land where snow fell in the winter and roses grew in the summer, there lived a little old woman. The people in the town called her Sweet Nena which means sweet grandmother. Sweet Nena lived in tiny cottage next to the mosque. Behind Sweet Nena’s home was a small barn where she kept her chickens.
Every morning Sweet Nena would get up at the sound of the prayer call. She would repeat every line of the adhan and then make a dua. After making wudu, she would offer her Fajr salah, and then tend to her chickens.
Sweet Nena kept herself busy by knitting kufis and sewing khimars. She knitted all kinds of kufis and sewed all kinds of khimars. Some were large and some were small. There were red ones and green ones, brown ones and black ones, yellow ones and blue ones. There were frilly ones and patterned ones. There were so many colors and so many designs.
Three times a week Sweet Nena would go to the market to sell her kufis and khimars. With some of the money she would buy herself bread and rice. Whatever money was left she would put into a glass jar that she kept hidden in her trunk. Sometime she would give some of the kufis and khimars away to the orphan children or poor men and women that walked past her stall. The kufis and khimars that she did not sell or give away, she would place in a large brown chest.
The people of the town loved Sweet Nena. She was very kind and very generous. People would stop by her cottage on the way to the mosque and bring her a plate of food. In return, Sweet Nena would always give them a kufi or a khimar. Every day the children of the town would come and play in Sweet Nena’s cottage. She enjoyed their company, their laughter and their games.
Sweet Nena was not fussy. Although her cottage was clean, she didn’t worry about keeping it tidy. She had balls of wool everywhere. Different colored yarn and material lay near her rocking chair and beads and other trinkets that she sewed into the kufis and khimars overflowed their containers.
The beautiful days of Eid-ul-Fitr had gone by so quickly. Soon it would be time for Eid-ul-Adha. Sweet Nena looked up at the sky and smiled at the moon and nodded, two months had passed. “Time to welcome Eid-ul-Adha,” she said.
Then Sweet Nena would put away her knitting needles and sewing pins, her scissors and threads and pick up all the trinkets and pack them into their containers. She would place the sequins and beads in colored tins. She would twirl all the yarn into neat bundles and fold up all the material in baskets. Then she would take out her feather duster and dust all the corners of the cottage. She would clean out the fireplace and polish all her ornaments. She spent days sweeping and scrubbing, washing and dusting. Finally the cottage was spotless. The windows sparkled and the floorboards shone. Everything was in its right place.
Sweet Nena signed happily and then she said, “Time to decorate for Eid-ul-Adha.” She brought out two wooden boxes. One contained silver crescents and silver stars. The other contained silver rings hooked onto each other and silver beads looped into tasbihs. Then little Sweet Nena stood on a stool to hang the crescents and stars, the rings and beads from the ceiling. The decorations looked beautiful. Sweet Nena sat on her rocking chair with the Qur’an on her lap. She admired the twirling crescents, twinkling stars, shimmering rings and shining beads.
The next day after offering her mid-day prayers, Sweet Nena took out her glass jar and emptied some of the money onto the table. She gathered the coins into her handkerchief and placed them in her basket. Then off she went to the market to buy fruits and honey, flour and chocolate, sugar and spice. When Nena returned, she walked into her tiny kitchen and rolled up her sleeves. “Time to make Eid-ul-Adha,” said Sweet Nena.
Every Eid, Sweet Nena baked and fried, steamed and boiled. She made pastries and pies, sugar crackers and peppermint stars, toffee crescents and chocolate beads, apple crisps and honey sticks. Sweet Nena’s home was filled with delicious aromas.
It was the day before Eid-ul-Adha, the day of the fast. “Time to fast for Eid-ul-Adha,” said Sweet Nena. She spent the rest of the day praying and reading. Towards the evening, Sweet Nena took down her glass jar and emptied the rest of the money onto the table. Then she said, “Time to give for Eid-ul-Adha.” Sweet Nena took out her silver colored thread and silver colored material cut into circles. She placed the coins in the middle of the circle and gathered the material making a pouch that she pulled together with the string. During the evening Sweet Nena visited many people giving smiles and money pouches to the poor.
The next day Sweet Nena put on her best dress and favorite khimar. She went to the mosque and offered prayers with the people from the town. Everyone who saw her wished her, “Eid Mubarak – A blessed Eid.”
“Eid Kareem,” Sweet Nena would reply.
When Sweet Nena got home, she looked at the crescents and stars dangling from the ceiling and the Eid food neatly set on the table. “Yes,” nodded Sweet Nena. “Time to share Eid-ul-Adha.” Sweet Nena invited the children from the town for Eid as she did every year.
When the children had eaten the cookies and cakes, the sweets and savories and played every game they could think of, they kissed and hugged Sweet Nena and thanked her for a beautiful Eid. Before the children went home, Sweet Nena would give them a kufi or a khimar. “May peace and happiness always be with you,” she would say.
Sweet Nena was tired from all the cleaning and cooking. She offered the night prayer and then sat on her rocking chair and looked out at the dark sky and watched the stars peep through. She nodded her head, “Eid Mubarak to all of you and to all of the world,” wished Sweet Nena and soon fell fast asleep.