At least you cannot say me a chand of Eid, as I appear daily on Chowrangi twice. When the whole family was busy in searching for the moon of Eid, I was busy in stuffing Pakoraas, Kachoorees, dates, Tang, nuggets, fruit chat, Samosas, and dahi ballaas. I trust slides of T.V. channels more than my eyes. And I knew that the moon has already gone stale, as the Pathans have already seen it in various parts of NWFP. So I preferred the fresh food. When after half an hour, the family returned to the dining table, I was choked with the food and my belly was looking a like a moon of 14th.
Then started yet another frenzy. Everybody started calling his or her friend about the moon sighting. People were contacted in Lahore, Karachi and even in Quetta and they contacted us, and the trill and anticipation of Eid was deafening. Questions were shooting everywhere, while I was snoozing. “Chand nazar aya kay nahin?”, “Kal Eid hai?”, “Falani jaga say shahdat a gai hai?”, “AAJ TV per kya slide hai?” and so on. Mis-information is the vogue on this special night of confusion. People also start fireworks just to fool others.
The most enthralling thing for me on this night is the meeting of Ruet-e-Hilal committee, which consists of the moon-sighters from different walks of life. Their primary meeting is held in Islamabad, and zonal committees sit in the provincial capitals. The real fun is in the Islamabad, where Mufti Muneebur Rehman presides the central committee. While they try to see the moon, I focus my telescope upon them, and here it is why I see:
Mufti Muneebur Rehman has put on a black patch of cloth over his one eye, and he has glued his other eye to a long narrow tube of paper, which somebody ensured him is a new electronic telescope, which can even enable you to see inside the black hole. So instead of finding moon, Mufti sahib is trying to discover something new in the black holes.
One other frightening looking Maulana Sahib with a rabid stick in his hand is taking different poses, one after the another and trying to locate imaginary moons with his stick. Though who are not into it, are at risk of getting a pointed blow in the ribs. A person from meteorology is shooting at the star with his water guns, and smugly telling everyone that there is no chance of moon today. At the far corner, media personnel are smoking hashish, and showing each other the wound marks of 29th September.
Except Mufti Muneebur Rehman, all are dreading of the moment, when Mufti will start announcing the findings of the learned committee. They know that Mufti gets this moment of glory once a year, and he will bask in it as long as he could. Mufti is also seriously chuckling within himself secretly, because he knows that everybody in the room and outside in the country is already sick, and well get more ill, as he starts his long preamble before announcing the moon sighting. He starts with Bismillah. Thats fine. Then introduces himself, and everybody gets gloomy. Then he utters 100 names of his committee members. Everybody gets ashen.
Then he takes 50 names each of provincial committees and everybody gets brainsick. Then he mentions the poor people from different government departments, and everybody starts crying. Then he look directly into the camera solemnly and announces with a decorum that after all this meticulous proceedings, “No Chand was sighted anywhere in the country, so don’t iron your Eid clothes yet, and don’t start cooking ‘Saiwiyan'”. Then he starts a short ‘dua’ of one hour, at the end of which half of the audience fell un-conciouis, and half others had left their homes with bare swords to storm the building, where all that happened.