We usually wait for the sunrise to light up the world. And in this one special month, we wait for the sunset so we can break our fast. We wait for iftar, after a whole day of pleasing Allah. While for some, this month of fasting is a month of feasting with fancy iftar platters in expensive restaurants, many strive to satisfy themselves by the simplest iftar feast possible. One such example is Haroon Shaheb, from Kushtia.
Haroon Shaheb rubbed the sweat off his forehead with a gamccha. He sat on the floor with his wife Rokeya, waiting to break his fast. He looked at the ordinary glass of water, the date and banana along with some panta-bhaat on his plate and kneaded his hands like it was a lavish meal.
“Why didn’t you go to the market today?” Rokeya asked.
“What do you need?”
“I have been telling you since last week that we are running out of rice. We won’t be able to do sehri with what’s left.”
“After namaaz, I’ll go and see if the market is open. I will grab some vegetables too.”
And as promised, he bought food for another two days while looking at his almost-empty torn wallet. Instead of thinking of eid shopping like us, he wondered what expenditure he’d have to sacrifice for living his life.
“You buy in such less quantities. We are not ants that we can live on this forever. Are you running out of money?” Rokeya asked.
“A bit. Don’t worry I will get paid soon and it will all be fine.”
“This time I need a cotton saree. I did not get anything for the last three years.” Rokeya’s eyes portrayed a pinch of happiness.
“Of course! Khoka will come back soon. The factory he works for will give him Eid bonus. He will buy something for us!”
“He lives alone in Dhaka. He needs money to pay his bills. Now don’t put such burden on him.”
Haroon Shaheb left for Taraweeh prayers. He finished the prayers and sat on the ground with his hands raised a bit upper than his face. He waited till people left the mosque and finally cried his heart out loud to Allah.
“Ya Allah! One more dead body! I did not get any service orders for a long time! Just one more dead body and I can sell my funeral services. Ya Allah please listen to my prayers. Just one more dead body.”
Haroon Shaheb went home and saw his wife asleep. Though she didn’t hear, he told her, “I promise you. A miracle will happen. I will get another order.”
And life went on like this for another week until that one day. It seemed like any other ordinary morning for Haroon Shaheb, till he received a call.
“Is this the funeral service?”
“Yes! Yes this is!” Haroon Shaheb said with excitement.
“We need a Kafon Cloth (white piece of cloth to cover dead body) and a Khatiya (the bed on which the dead body is carried.”
“Okay I’ll get it ready. By when do you need it?”
“We are from Rajbari. Arrive as soon as possible. Don’t worry about the payment.”
Haroon Shaheb had never been so happy for a while. He dreamt of a crisis-free Eid with his family. He dreamt of a new beginning. He went to his wife and told her the good news. After getting the Khatiya and Kafon Cloth tied to his van, he left for Rajbari. While the scorching heat of the sun made the temperature searing than ever, it did not affect him. Haroon Shaheb was indeed smothered by clouds of happy thoughts.
“Here is the dead body. Cover him.” His customer told him after he reached Rajbari.
Haroon Shaheb took the Kafon cloth and went near the dead body. While he still smiled with his teeth wide open, tears fell from his eyes.
“Ya Allah! I wanted a dead body but not Khoka! No no no! This is a misunderstanding! Give me another one!” he cried.
“Are you mad? Provide your services and leave. This boy was coming from Dhaka last night until he met an accident. We have our Janajah prayers left. We don’t have time for your drama. “
“You don’t need to pay me! Just tell Him that this is the wrong body!” Haroon Shaheb kept on crying while pointing towards the sky. He continued-“I just wanted money for Iftar and Suhoor! I wanted money for Eid! I wanted a dead body and it was my fault!”
As Haroon Shaheb kept on screaming like a mad person, the people came closer to separate him from the dead body.