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RSVP for a Fantastical Iftar

Updated May 18, 2020 04:24pm

Atiya Zaidi invites Sir Terry Pratchett and Dr Seuss to iftar.

These are fantastic times, only from an etymological point of view as the word fantastic comes from the Medieval Latin Greek word phantazesthai, meaning ‘have visions, imagine’. And that is all we are doing these days; imagining holidays, festivals and hanging out with friends and everything back to normal. While that is not happening, would you be my guest on a fantastic iftar in the truest sense of the word?

I imagine I am sitting on a yacht, with the sun about to don an invisibility cloak beyond the horizon and my beady eyes don’t want to blink for fear of missing the miracle of sunset that happens every day. The salt in the breeze will only be offset by the salt in the steaks, sizzling on the platter; the sizzles will only be drowned by the seagulls gawking above our heads, hoping for a few bites of undercut. The spread is befitting the location of our anchor. Crabs and lobsters cooked and presented like poetry, the salads of fresh summer fruit with fried brie sing like a timeless melody.

Joining me are two angelic people who have travelled down from the Silver City, especially for this iftar. I didn’t invite a third person as the conversation would have turned into dialogues between two sets of people rather than all three of us giving our undivided attention to everyone around the table. Seated on my right is a son of a German immigrant called Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr Seuss as he decided to call himself, a name that keeps him alive in our hearts and bookshelves. On my left is a man wearing a black hat and who has made running with your imagination an Olympic worthy sport: Sir Terry Pratchett.

Photo: NPR and Medium
Photo: NPR and Medium

I allow these two brilliant minds to trespass my dreams for a simple reason. They made wisdom easy. By cloaking life lessons as rhyming words or books written in less than 50 words, by disguising hard-learned lessons as wit from trolls, dwarves and wizards who are scared of the number eight (all of this is true). They made life simple.

They didn’t need to preach for us to practice their teachings. As Dr Seuss recites from memory “Oh! The places you’ll go,” Terry will quip about being destined to go to the disc world where everything is shaped like a disc riding on the back of four elephants travelling through the cosmos on the back of a turtle (yup, wrap your mortal heads around that). And when Terry makes fun of his hat which he hardly took off, the good doctor will mention an annoying, talking cat in a hat that believed in cleaning up his own mess.

And I will sit there and smile, with tears in my eyes. The food will get closer and closer to becoming a feast for the sea gulls as I will feast my eyes on the words of these two men. On this roza I will be thankful for the food, for the mind I have been given by the Almighty and I will pray harder for my parents who believed that yes, girls should go to school and yes, buying books is better than buying any gold in the world.

I am already sad that I will wake up from this dream, I will shut my eyes again trying hard to go back to the button which says continue watching and yet it won’t play. Then I will wipe the tears I didn’t know were there and go to my bookshelf to start dreaming with my eyes wide open.

Atiya Zaidi is ECD, BBDO Pakistan. zaidipride@gmail.com