Mahmood sat on the dusty ground along with four young children, waiting outside next to the window where the baker sells the bread. The older children were discussing the kinds of clothes they would wear for Eid. One said: “I bought white pants with a red T-shirt.” Another one said, “My mom sewed me an Afghani white shirt and shalwar clothes along with a hat and half-sleeve coat.” The youngest boy smiled: “Hey, my mom sewed the same Afghani shirt and shalwar clothes for me as well, but my dark red hat has lots of small mirrors sewn onto it and I sewed a long coat with blue and green colors like Karzai wears.” Another boy said, “My father bought me a dark suit with white shoes that are made in China.” They all smiled.
Hearing the boys speak of clothes, especially the one who said: “shoes made in China,” Mahmood, 35, absentmindedly touched his pea-colored shalwar kamiz. The words “made in China” echoed in his ear. He murmured to himself. “I can’t even buy simple slippers made in Afghanistan, not to speak of China.” He thought, “If my son hears about these boys and sees the clothes that the boys will be wearing, what will happen to him? He won’t be able to speak with them, let alone play with them. I can’t be a good father.” He put his hands on his face.
All around him people were busily buying vegetables, fruits, eggs and cheese, juices and yogurt for Ramadan. Mahmood was not paying attention. He waited for the bread he ordered and muttered to himself. “What am I going to do now that my salary has been cut? Ramadan is about to finish. In thirteen days, it will be Eid saiid al Fater
and still the government hasn’t paid us. How can I begin to buy Eidi for my family? Should I buy the dried fruit and nuts now or clothes for the children first? What is more important and necessary if I have to choose?” He tapped his finger against his dry lips. Worrying drops of tears came slowly from his eyes like drops of rain fall down from trees’ leaves.
Suddenly, a young boy pushed his arm. “The baker says to take your bread. It is getting cold.” Mahmood cleaned his tears with his hand, stood up, and took his bread. As he walked toward home, he reminded himself that Allah was kind and everything would be okay very soon, inshaallah.