Washington DC, October 2, 2011
By Jamal Laoudi

It is 11 am on Sunday morning. Ali has just gotten back from the market where he has bought the Eid sheep for the family. He goes into the kitchen and asks Sara, his wife, who is cooking lunch,
“Come take a look at the sheep for this year. I just settled it in the garage.”
“Oh great; can’t wait to see it.” Sara responds.
Once in the garage, Sara takes a good scrutinizing look at the sheep and feels its back.
“It is big and looks very healthy. It must have been expensive,.” she says.
Ali responds: “I paid a little bit more that we had budgeted but it is worth it. I could not pass on his one.”
”Good choice and I am very satisfied.” replies Sara
“Do you doubt my choices?” Ali asks.
Sara: “No not that but I know how impatient you are when it comes to shopping in general and I want to make sure that this isn’t the case of picking something just for the sake of getting the chore out of the way, something we both know you are infamous for. I know you are an excellent shopper once you put your mind to it; it just does not happen often. Anyway, thank you and you are the best; that is why I married you.”
Ali replies with pride and a sense of achievement. “I am glad I got this over with and two weeks ahead of time.”
“Case in point. Come have some tea as I finish preparing lunch.” replies Sara smilingly.

Ali changes the topic: “Where are the kids?” Adnan is their 10 year-old son and Fairuz their 7 year-old daughter.
Sara: “Fairuz is upstairs playing with her dolls and Adnan is at the neighbor’s house playing with their two sons.”
Ali: “Get Fairuz, and I am going to get Adnan so they can see the sheep.” He then walks towards the neighbor’s house while Sara yells out:
“Fairuz, come down and check out the sheep. It is here.”
“Where? Where? I want to see it,.” Exclaims Fairuz.
Sara walks her to the garage and asks:
“Look, isn’t it nice?”
”Yes it is. It is big too.” affirms Fairuz.
Sara: “Come and feel it.”
Fairuz takes a step back and says: ”is it a nice sheep? I don’t want it to hurt me.”
Sara: “Oh don’t worry, it won’t hurt you. I will hold its horns while you touch it. ”
Fairuz approaches the sheep cautiously and hesitantly touches its back.
Sara: ”Don’t be scared. This one is very nice and hasn’t shown any resistance. In fact, your father did not struggle at all to get it inside the garage.”
“Why do we always bring a sheep home once a year, mommy?” asks Fairuz seemingly out of the blue.
“Good question my dear.” responds Sara and explains:
“We, Muslims, have a Eid called the Greater Eid where we commemorate Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son prophet Ismail as ordered by God. It was a test. When it became clear that Abraham would carry out God’s will, the latter sent him a sheep to sacrifice instead.”
Ali arrives at the neighbor’s house and knocks. Radouan, head of the household, answers the door.
“Hi Ali, come in.”
Ali: “Thank you. I came to get Adnan. We have bought the sheep and I promised to get him as soon as I brought it in.”
Radouan: “Already? That is good. How is the market this year? I have yet to get one myself.”
Ali: “This year is very good. Plenty of nice choices and the prices are reasonable.”
Radouan: “Good to hear. I am still going to wait few more days.”
”Well, if you wait, you may not get what you want at the price you want,.” says Ali hinting to a slight sense of urgency.
Radouan: ”There is a cost to everything so I am going to wait.”
Ali: “I hope you will find what you are looking for when the time comes.”
Radouan: “Thank you. Have a seat and stay for tea while I get Adnan.”
Ali: “Would love to but I really need to get going. Another time. Thank you.”
Adnan comes down and Ali informs him that the sheep is inside the house. They walk back.

In to the garage rushes Adnan with his dad Ali behind him.
Ali says: ”Easy Adnan, and don’t run to it. You may scare it and provoke unwanted reaction.”
Adnan pads and feels the sheep all over. He looks very happy.
Ali: “Kids, remember that this is not a toy you can play with so be very careful around it. Also, do not try and feed it. It has its hay, so no fries or mac & cheese, especially you Fairuz.”
Fairuz: ”Ok, daddy.”
The family goes back inside the house. Later that afternoon, Fairuz and Adnan ask their mom:
“Mami, we want to go watch the sheep.”
Sara: ”Ok, you can go but stay a way and no matter what, do not get close to him. Adnan, see to it that your sister does not do that.”
Adnan: ”We won’t. We’ll just watch from a distance. You do have him on a rope so he can’t come close right?”
“That is correct,.” affirms Sara.
The kids go to the garage and sit within a safe distance. They watch him as the sheep watches them back at times, other times eats, and other times lies down.”
Fairuz notices that the sheep digs into the hay when eating and that he goes for what looks like green dry sweet peas.

As the days go by, the kids increase their visits to the garage. They notice that the sheep is quite nice and friendly. As they grow more and more comfortable around the sheep, they get closer and closer to the point where they muster enough courage to actually pet it.
One day, Ali comes home and didn’t see his kids. He asks his wife: “Where are the kids?”
Sara: “With Massoud. Where else?”
Ali: ”Massoud who?”
Sara: “The sheep. I did not tell you? They have named him Massoud and they are spending much of their free time with it. I must admit he is quite different and quite domesticated. I even took the rope off of him to give him more space to roam around in the garage.”
Ali: ”Are you sure that is a good idea? ”
Sara: “Yeh, the garage-door is always closed and Massoud behaves quite nicely. This sheep must have grown up around kids.”
Ali: “Easy with the Massoud thing. It is a sheep don’t forget. Still we cannot have him loose around the kids.”

Ali calls his kids out to come inside the house.
Fairuz asks: “Can Massoud come too?”
Ali: ”No, he cannot.”
Fairuz: “But daddy he is very nice. He can stay in my room.”
Ali: ”Come here my dear. The sheep makes a lot of mess and he would not be comfortable inside the house. He is happiest there.”
Fairuz nods in agreement hesitantly.
Sara: “What do you want for dinner?”
Fairuz first to answer: “Sweet peas and lots of sweet peas.”
Sara: ”What happened to mac & cheesse?”
“”I learned that sweet peas are good for you,.” responds Fairuz with a smirk on her face.
”Yes, sweet peas are very good for you,.” agrees Comments Sara with a slight expression of suspicion.

Come dinner time, the family sits around the table. Everyone is eating normally except for Fairuz who just collects sweet peas and puts them on her plate.
Ali: ”What is it with you and sweet peas all of a sudden?”
Fairuz: ”Nothing. I just like them and I want to save them for a later since I am not hungry right now.”
With a slight sense of confusion Ali nods, “Ok!”
Fairuz takes her sweet peas up to her room with her. When it was time to watch the sheep the next day, she sneaks the peas with her and puts the plate before Massoud. The latter digs in and finishes the plate with in seconds. Fairuz’s face glows with happiness upon that sight.

The day of Eid has arrived. Ali goes to Eid prayer and comes back home. After about an hour or so, Hamza, the local butcher arrives for the sacrifice.
After breakfast, Hamza informs Ali that he needs to get to work, as he has other homes too visit.
Ali: ”Sara, Hamza is here and we are ready for the sacrifice.”
Sara: ”Ok, I will be rather there. Let me get the kids.”
She then calls her kids out: ”Kids, come downstairs; your dad is back and we are ready for the sacrifice.”
They come down running and go straight to the garage.

As Ali and Hamza start positioning the sheep for sacrifice, Adnan’s face goes grim and Fairuz’s eyes water. Before long, Fairuz starts crying and asks her mom:
‘Why are they going to hurt him? He is my friend.”
Sara: ”Oh no, they are not going to hurt him.”
Adnan starts crying in turn and runs up to his room.
Fairuz: ”Mom, please tell them to not hurt him, tell them to stop.”
Ali asks Hamza to let the sheep free until he deals with his kids. He gathers them in the kitchen and says:
“You see, we are sacrificing Massoud so he can go to heaven. This is what our religion recommends and we are acting on that recommendation.”
Fairuz: “Don’t hurt Massoud.”
Ali: ”We are not going to hurt him and he is not going to feel pain. Don’t you want mommy to make you your favorite Kababs?”
Fairuz goes on another round of crying and responds: “No, I don’t eat meat anymore.”
Sara jumps in “What are talking about Ali? We are not going to hurt Massoud and we are going to take to the farm where he can live happily ever after. I am going to shower the kids now. In the meantime, go get us another sheep, a bad mean sheep.”
Ali: “Ok, I get it. Go shower and change and I will get another one.”
As soon as the kids head upstairs with their mother, Ali turns to Hamza and says:
“Let us get this over with before they come back.”
Sara shows up alone: “They are taking a shower; hide the head as soon as possible.”
Ali responds with a perplexed look: ”Ok, we’ll do that.”
Hamza: ”Kids today are very soft. You are the fourth house I worked on today and I have seen something similar in at least one of them. This trend is on the increase year after year. “
Ali: ”Well, it is a different time and a different generation. It is true that at their age, we wanted to actually carry the sacrifice ourselves and our parents had to fight us to convince us otherwise but we cannot compare. That being said, I kind of understand.”
Hamza: ”Ali, are you ok? I hope you are joking when you said you understand. They are kids and it is only a sheep.”
Not wanting to engage this topic further Ali nods agreeably and carries on with the operation.
After all is said and done, Ali and Sara succeed in convincing their kids that Massoud lives in a far away farm, to preempt a visit-request at any point down the road, and that he is very happy.

Later that evening, Ali steps outside and he runs into his neighbor Radouan.
  “Hi Ali, how did the sheep turn out?” asks Radouan.
  “The most difficult and complicated Eid we have had so far.” responds Ali with relief.
”What happened?”  inquires Radouan.
”The kids did not want us to sacrifice the sheep. They even named him Massoud, can you believe that?” says Ali with a half puzzeled face.
Radouan: “To be frank with you Ali, you had no business bringing the sheep in two weeks out. What were you thinking? Remember when I told that there is a cost to everything? I was going to say more the other day when you informed me that you have brought tone home that early but I refrained in the last minute. My sheep came home last night and the kids didn’t see it until this morning. Piece of cake. That being said, I confess that I had the same experience with mine few years back. It was a mess. Samir my son has not eaten lamb since and he would still not eat it even if you paid him.”



10/02/2014 2:01pm

I think these kids are very old school comparing to our kids who start sharpen the knives two days before Eid day. But enjoyed! Thanks jamal


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