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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Idd (Eid) Festival


Sharing an excerpt from my novel, The Beggar’s Dance (pg. 117 paperback), on Idd (Eid) festival. In this scene, Juma (protagonist—a street boy) is receiving Idd gift from his secret friend, Zakiya.

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I look forward to the Idd festivals in the next two days, at the end of Ramadan. Dada Zakiya has promised to share the offering she receives for Idd. After Idd Namaz, prayers, in the morning, family and friends will exchange mithhai, Indian sweets. Dada Zakiya tells me that she gets lots of money from her uncles and aunts. She does not fancy mithhai but looks forward to the Cadbury Whole Nut chocolate from London that her aunt sends her every Idd. “I love chocolates. It’s a once-a-year treat, so scrumptious.”

Mithhai photo courtesy: Gulnar Fazal
The butcher on the street is busy with orders. A fully loaded pickup arrives with whole halal goats. The workers’ long white jackets are smudged with blood as they put one goat at a time over their shoulder and take it to the butchery. Mama Fatima rushes out of the salon and makes her order.
“Hamisi will be preparing goat biryani for the family and himself the day before,” Dada Zakiya says, revealing the feast menu. She asks me to meet her by the Darkhana gates on Idd at twelve noon when she comes for a community lunch and dandhiya-raas, festive dances and music.

“Idd Mubarak, Happy Idd, Juma,” Dada Zakiya says, wearing a beautiful white dress and a stylish silver clip on the right side of her perfect shoulder-length hair. “For you.” She hands me two full bags. “I have lots of assorted mithhai, goat biryani and soda.” She smiles and tucks twenty shillings in my pocket. “I got a total of one hundred shillings cash in gifts. I will spend the remaining eighty on Hindi cassettes,” she whispers secretively. I accept the auspicious meal and think of Josephine. I will share the spirit and celebrate with her tonight when her pimp is not watching.
Dada Zakiya twists her left wrist, showing me her watch. “It’s my grandmother’s. Mother tells me that at nineteen, I am responsible and old enough to own it.”
Her friend comes by and they hug each other. “Idd Mubarak.” Holding their dandhiya, dancing sticks, painted in red and green, they walk into the gates of Darkhana and join the happy crowd. I hear live drums playing and dance to the end of the street till the sound fades off.
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Monday, May 1, 2017

Sharing and Giving

Lamb Biryani
Here is an excerpt from my novel, The Beggar’s Dance (pg. 107 paperback).

In this scene; a young middle-class girl, Zakiya, brings a beggar boy, Juma (protagonist), home. She serves him lunch. The story is told by Juma (first person POV).

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  I stack the rice on my plate, heaping it with three chicken legs and a huge potato. Dada Zakiya hands me a spoon. I laugh at her. “How can I fit the chicken into this spoon?” Dada Zakiya laughs too. I eat the food with my hands. The rice and curry are juicy and salty, and the cardamoms and cloves make it flavourful. We have it with yogurt and banana. Dada Zakiya eats a green chilly dipped in salt with every bite. I decide against that. Her welcoming home makes me forget my pain, and I silently pray that this lasts forever.
  “Thank you, Dada, thank you so much,” I say after our meal.
  “Shukrana,” she says. “Sharing brings barakat.”
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Cooking and sharing food is one of the pleasures of my life. In the photo, I'd cooked lamb biryani for a family reunion at my home a while back. Hope you enjoyed the excerpt from The Beggar's Dance.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Author and Muse


I have many dog lovers following me on Instagram or should I clarify, they’re probably following my dog, Zorro.

He is a bichon-shihtzu breed. He will be six this June. Zorro loves to walk and play fetch. He is a great company when I am writing.

But when I’m writing for too long, he’ll come closer to my keyboard to tell me that I should play with him instead.

Check more of him on Instagram
www.instagram.com/faridasomjee