Eid is Another Country

Nadia Niaz

A thick-plaited little girl, sequined top a-glitter, steps
through the doors,
her orange-patterned hand safe in her father’s large,
brown grasp.
She giggles, her glass bangles bright and clinking as she
is jostled, sending
ripples through her cheap silk lehenga, blocked gold
embroidery holding
the hem still as the tram moves, a bright spot in the

I worry that she is cold.

The rainy grey of Melbourne is no place for Eid.
She should be ruining her fancy clothes with water
fights, chasing cousins up trees and being
rewarded with food, money, presents and her elders’
blessing pats on the head
for how much she’s grown this year.

They must only see her in pictures now.

Or maybe one or two of them are here battling
the cold as they cook kheer and seviyan.
If they know to look for vermicelli.
If they can use this thin milk, this watery sugar
to recall home
and family.

The girl’s accent carries no memory.

She was born here perhaps or brought
so young she doesn’t remember
the smell of sweet milk thickening with heat
blanketing the city, the town, the country
the moment the moon is spotted
and the Chand Raat cry goes up.

Maybe she’s never heard the sirens, never seen the stalls
they summon
bristling with bangles in more colours than you can
mehndi-wallas with their wood stamps and strange citrus
dye that
makes your palms sting but looks pretty under the hasty
qatlamma and jalebi stands that materialise from the mist,
oil already
boiling, next to sugar cane juicers and their smell of
ginger, the crush of
people with one night to get tomorrow’s Eid just right.

She knows nothing of that frenzy, her speech slow and
As she tells her father her clothes are itchy.