The time was 05:15 p.m. There were more than 70 kids surrounding us. Zahid bhaia was shouting at the top of his lungs. But kids were still swarming in without listening to any of the words. Antara was freaking out by the whole chaos surrounding her while she guarded the bag full of iftaar packets. Faisal, Ayon bhaia and I were trying with all our strengths to make a straight line, or to bring any sort of order as a matter of fact, in which after a while we were failing again and again to contain the kids. It was a situation that I didn’t even imagine as the worst case scenario when everything was being planned. So what were we all doing there? Well for that I’ll go back to the morning of the 21stAugust.
After buying items for 3 previous Action: Piyaju-Beguni areas, it was my turn to wake up in the morning and buy the things needed for my event. We just needed Juice and cakes to buy at that time. So without much worry three of us went at 12 o’ clock to get the things from Karwan Bazar. We went, haggled a lot since our budget was very tight- quite a fun experience, bought all the goods and came back by 1:30 p.m. Everything was still going according to plan. Next step was to wait for the restaurant to deliver the other food items and for the rest of the 16 volunteers. At 2:30 p.m. the food was brought in and 5 of the volunteers were present. So with great hope we started packing. Within 3:30 we had finished all the packing along with 2 more joining us and 1 leaving for class. It was at this time that I was starting to feel anxious since more than half was still not here. This being my first in this event as well as being the area leader at the same time, my head was going ballistics with all possible bad scenarios. After waiting one whole hour and seeing no one else turn up, my worst fear came true. There was only 8 of us and 200 packets to be distributed, above that it was the first time for 6 out of that 8. As we were leaving my mom made a few remarks about me that successfully tarnished my image in front of the team and lifted everyone’s spirit [surprisingly!]. But still with heavy hearts we brought down the bags of packets from my house and decided that to reach most of the areas we will have to break into two groups. Just as we were to left the premises of my house the last minute Samaritan came riding his glorious bike towards us. It was Shebli bhaia, a bit of relief came over me even though he was a first time Actioneer. So with 9 members we decided to divide into 2 groups of 4 and 5 with 2 rickshaws to carry 2 bags of 100 packets each.
We found our first kid right after we started; he was reluctant to receive the iftaar packet at first, but a few people around helped us convince him to take it as we told him to wash his hand before eating every time. And then we found a few more kids and followed the same routine. After this the two teams parted, the team of four rode with the bike towards Nabisco while the team of five was led by the rickshaw puller to a location with a number of kids. Along the way to the location suggested by our guide, we found a couple of kids to give iftaar. This made me optimistic thinking that if this keeps on, we could pull this event off with just the 9 of us but little did I know what was awaiting us on the next turn.
As we took a right turn after the Poly-technique hostel towards the inner Begunbari, the scenes changed completely. With more cars trying to bypass the main road, there were whole rows of rickshaws lined up along both sides. There were little kids here and there running around naked. We tried approaching them and giving them the packets, some accepted, some ran away at top speeds. Still hoping the best we moved on forward and saw a small market. Antara was sitting on the rickshaw with the bags and handing out the packets to the rest of us to give to the kids. It was all good in the beginning of this place. But as we moved in to a small alleyway like road, everything went fast forward, or it seemed. All of a sudden somehow news reached the innards and kids, grown-ups, old people, well anybody and everybody was flanking us from all directions. And this leads to the situation I mentioned in the beginning. The road was small, very small, and there were people blocking all directions. The rickshaw, along with Antara, was cornered at the bend of the entrance to the road. Zahid bhaia went quickly into hyper mood and tried to direct as many as he could. Faisal, Ayon bhaia and I were trying to tell the grown-ups who the event was for. And all these while we all were trying to stop the crowd from jumping on the rickshaw and the bringing carnage to chaos. Zahid bhaia and Faisal backed up to the rickshaw and started distributing among the hands risen up in the air, finding the kids among all the hands. I and Ayon bhaia trying to give them space to move their hands.
After a few moments the rickshaw puller suggested we pull out of the corner since the crowd was getting too rowdy for only the 6 of us to handle. He somehow moved out of the corner and went back to the big road. At this point Zahid bhaia grabbed one of the bags and sprinted toward a large empty space. The rest of us followed while sending Antara and the other bag further up the road away from the entire crowd that followed Zahid bhaia right at his heels. Here we were somehow able to make two lines and gave the kids the packets. As soon as the bag finished we fast paced towards the rickshaw. Zahid bhaia swiftly taking the other bag and moving on to another empty space started the distribution, and the rest either protecting him or trying to bring order. This time the whole bag, containing 50 packets, finished quite fast and in an orderly manner. But unfortunately it wasn’t enough and we had to retreat after giving out the extras. We slowly went back to my house where we were to meet up with Antara who was sent back a bit early. Along the way we received news from the 2nd team who had faced similar but a bit milder situations like us and was on way to meet with us. Once we got together and down for iftaar at my house, we shared our stories. We got to know about the 2nd team’s adversary, a little kid who would poke anyone who tried to approach him to give him a packet with his stick. And with excitement through us all and remembering all the smiles on the kids, we dug into our iftaar at the sound of the Azan.
But the whole day ended not with that but with my mom taking a shot at me for one last time before everyone left and flattening whatever I had left to the ground. Still, with nothing left of me, I felt grateful for being able to be part of this experience and being able to bring so many smiles that it made all those scratches from the nails of the crowd and all those tensed moments I had totally worthwhile. For every smile is a blessing. And I thank my Team of 10, the rickshaw guides, the restaurant (charged us half price because of the event), and Allah for giving this blessing.