Amin wa alaikumus salam,’ my young cousin Walida replied as soon as our call was connected.
‘So what’s the emergency?’ I asked.
‘Emergency Anty Bint? What made you think there’s one?’ she asked, surprise in her voice.
‘When one receives a call after 11pm, on Sallah eve, it can only mean that something is wrong somewhere. And that’s the only reason I decided to call back. Otherwise, I don’t make late calls and do not return them.’ I explained.
‘Then I’m sorry I gave you that impression, Aunt. I just needed to talk to you before your ram is slaughtered tomorrow.’ Walida replied.
‘Really? And you still say it’s not an emergency?’ I insisted.
‘No, it isn’t. I mean all I want is to book your ram head and legs, if you don’t mind.’ She explained.
‘What do you mean by booking “my ram head and legs”. And book them for what?’ I demanded.
‘What I meant to say was, I called to ask you to please give me your ram head and legs after it’s been skinned.’ Walida announced.
‘So why the head and legs. Why not any other part of the ram.’ I asked, recovering from her strange request.
‘Because that’s what I need to make up my whole ram. Anty Mairo is giving me one back thigh. Anty Hadiza is giving me a front thigh. Sister Fatima is giving me one rib part, I’m getting another rib part from Sister Amina. Anty Zainab is giving me another back thigh and Yaya Jummai the second front thigh. So I decided to request from you the head and legs, hoping you won’t mind.’ She repeated.
‘No, I don’t mind at all. Indeed, we will have three heads and won’t be missing one, in sha Allah. There is my ram, Tahir’s ram and the children’s ram. So I’ll gladly let you have it. But if you don’t mind my asking. Why did you go round booking ram parts from your relatives?’ I prodded.
‘Well, you know Abba has been complaining about lack of money since the beginning of this year. I wasn’t surprised when he suddenly said that he can only afford one ram this Eid-il-kabir. I begged all I could but he said he had done his best in view of the cash crunch he’s facing. So I had to resort to seeking your assistance in order to meet my obligations.’ Walida concluded.
‘And may I know what your obligations are?’ I queried.
‘Well, I share ram meat to my neighbours, some of our poor relations as well as beggars. So by the time we end up with only one ram in the house, who do I give and who do I refuse? That was why I decided to beg for parts from you to enable me meet up with all the people on my annual list.’ She answered.
‘But that’s very wrong of you. And I don’t mean that it’s wrong to ask us for something you need but it’s wrong to go to great lengths to do something that’s not obligatory on you.
Your husband said he could only afford one ram this year. You yourself have no money to buy your own, so must you turn yourself into a beggar because you want to keep up appearances? Who said you can’t reduce the number of people on your list, or give them smaller pieces if you can’t do that? I’m sure Abba will not mind you keeping half the ram for yourselves and sharing the rest to others. So couldn’t you do just that? If any of them had the audacity to complain about the size of the piece tell them that you slaughtered only one ram due to today’s economic realities.
Who doesn’t know how difficult things are now. With the high cost living and shortage of funds, most people are in very difficult circumstances these days. So you should not put yourself in a lot of trouble just to impress others. It’s not right.’ I advised.
‘You are right Anty Bint, but you know that most people will not understand. They’ll think I’ve grown stingy.’ She argued.
‘So what if they do? Must you go round begging just so they’ll say you are forever generous? Let me tell you something, people think what they want to think no matter what. Even when you were dedicating a whole ram to them, it doesn’t mean that they all thought well of you. And now that you’re willing to scout around for ram parts and clone your own sallah ram for them, it doesn’t mean that all of them will be impressed. So take it from me, you don’t need to go to such great lengths to impress people. And we won’t always be ready to give you the parts you need to clone your own layya sacrifice anytime you need to.
Yes, you’ve got us to agree this year but it doesn’t mean we’ll be willing next time. So appreciate your husband’s efforts, live within your means and never force yourself to keep up appearances.’ I cautioned.
‘Ok Anty Bint. In sha Allah, this is the first and last time I’ll collect your ram parts to clone my own.’ She said with a laugh. ‘Thanks very much, I wish you a nice Eid day tomorrow.’ She added before hanging up the phone.