I had an eventful Edi ul-Fitr.
The day began with Fajr. A sweet fajr at home. Afterwards, I sat for some meditation. While I was in my state, my one-year-old, Yousuf, climbed into my lap. We sat there for a moment, still. Then I leaned to my side, put our faces close together, and closed my eyes. He closed his. We slept another two hours that way. We woke up to the sound of my older son, Ismael, calling for his mama - my wife Fatima. He then came out and laid down with me and Yousuf and we played until we we decided it was time to wake my sleeping wife.
The question of travel to Eid prayer was a big one. Drive or train? Is it raining? What’s traffic like? We drove. The Bowery was a mess and we parked in a garage.
The question of staying for Eid prayer was a big one too. It was packed beyond comprehension at Judson Memorial Church. Do we stay or do we go? Do we pray on our own or find another mosque? We stayed. Fatima and Yousuf went across the street to the ICNYU to wait out the crowds. Ismael and I toughed it out and prayed on the stairs. We joined the masses briefly for food and fellowship, then hurried towards home.
The question of brunch or naptime was serious. Yousuf was deteriorating fast. The rest of us were hungry. We decided on brunch as a family. We went to an old Fort Greene staple, Olea. We ate heartily.
We headed home, returning to our daily routine. I changed and headed out quickly to work with plans to return by 4pm. At which point, Fatima would head to work.
These days, I’ve been spending time at BRIC. Today, it was an eventful walk. I came across a bird that was unable to fly. It had webbed feet and a long beak. The poor guy was thirsty, hungry and totally lost. A woman from Brooklyn Hospital went inside to call Animal Rescue. I decided to stay there until they came. They never came.
I learned that the City of New York has a very unclear animal rescue system. I called the zoos, bird rescue, ASPCA - no one knew what to do. I finally, skeptically and hesitantly, hailed down some cops. They were annoyed and angry as they watched a convoy of NYPD cars race down, sirens blazing, clearly upset they weren’t on a more “interesting” call.
“Why don’t it fly away?” they asked.
“Its hurt,” I say
“Birds fly. If it could fly, it would.” I replied.
Another man, one with a clear connection to a traditional African religion and a clear connection to the natural world, also stopped to help the bird. He, like me, felt compelled by his faith to not leave a stranded bird, alone. It had been almost 2 hours. The bird began looking to us for direction - listening as we called it back from the street to the sidewalk, listening when we told it to stop drinking dirty, stagnant street water. The building maintenance crew at Brooklyn Hospital were useless - they laughed when I asked if they could bring out a hose or a bucket of water. Eventually, a new crop of cops came to assist. I looked one of them in the eye and said, “Please do your 100% best to make sure that this bird is taken somewhere safe so that it has a fighting chance. Please do not let him die out here.” The officer promised. I had to go.
Returning home, I retraced my steps and saw the scene was cleared.
Later, I was with my sons. We finished lunch, got dressed, and ran out the door. I stuffed them in their stroller seats and power-walked all the way to Brooklyn Bridge park. We went to the grassy oasis between the bridge and Jane’s Carousel. Waiting for us was a group of friends - old and new. We were a gaggle of Eid celebrants cooling out, relaxing. My sons played safely, chased a kite, kicked around a ball, ate fruit and organic fig cookies. We adults talked, laughed, and prayed together. It was beautiful.
Dinner was simply tofu and broccoli. Both boys ate heartily.
We transitioned into bedtime mode which included washing, dressing, cleaning up, praying, storytelling, and me telling them over and over again, “Daddy loves you very very much. Daddy loves you very, very much.”
Before I went to sleep, I thought about the children of Gaza. I thought about their fathers. I thought about how they are packed into ever worsening slum conditions until the ghetto they are forced to live in becomes so unbearable that they will either leave or become a piece of rubble within it. I thought about how those families celebrated Eid today.
I thought about genocide, holocaust, and how my tax dollars are funding this “final solution” or this “mowing of the lawn” of the Palestinian people or problem. I thought about my Native American ancestors - wiped out. I thought about what those who were relegated to the ghettos of Germany would have to say to the Palestinians now. I thought about the people who lived during other historical holocausts - the ones that saw something - like us - and did nothing to stop it - like us. We are just like them. We make excuses for the slaughter. We make excuses for what is blatantly known around the world as murder.
Yes, after a glorious day, I went to bed with a heavy heart. I will likely sleep ok. I won’t wake up in the middle of the night. I won’t toss or turn. I certainly won’t have to evacuate my home at a moment’s notice.