It is said that time appears to pass more quickly as one ages. I can remember my childhood school summer holidays – six weeks that stretched before me like an eternity of camping in the woods, a little light poaching here and there, campfires and dens and all going on forever.
Today, Christmas seems like yesterday and next Christmas is about a week down the road. And this year is going to be the first for many that my whole family in Pakistan will be assembled under one roof.
None of us are Muslims, a few are only very marginally Christian and there is my own unwavering atheism at the very peak of family scepticism.
Despite which we celebrate the Eid festival alongside our Muslim neighbours. They unfailingly gift food to us – as we do to them at Christmas – and our fridge will be overflowing by the end of the festival.
Our flag still flies above the house as it did on Independence Day and will not come down until Eid is passed. We have had our first significant rain since last October, the temperature has dropped to something more bearable, most of the renovation work on the house is finished, and both the cats report themselves well and satisfied and the four parrots likewise.
The new lawn looks like it may survive and prosper, and the only fly in the ointment thus far is that the head-gasket on the generator looks like it has blown but Mr Fixit is en-route post-haste and will have it sorted in time for the holidays.
And why bother to mention any of this trivia? Because it so unremarkably and tediously normal is why. I am surrounded by beige normality applied with a thick brush. There’s acres of ordinary all around. Things look pretty normal in the supermarket. The bakery.
The shop where I buy my favourite little cigars is selling special Eid packages of ‘Normal’ and they are flying off the shelves. Even the bank, which can usually be relied on for being in an ongoing state of screaming hysteria – is having an outbreak of normalcy.
Even as the suffocation caused by the total absence of drama in my life suffuses all around me I strongly suspect that I am not alone. There is an awful lot of normality and downright ordinariness around these days.
True, we don’t have power for large parts of the day and terrorists go about their grisly business apparently unhindered by a state that acts like the eternal rabbit paralysed in the headlights of an oncoming car – but pssssst...here comes ol’ Mr Normal bearing gifts of, err...Eau de Mundane.
And that Dear Reader is the nub of this Eid peroration. Despite the gaping cracks in the assorted systems of state and governance, the creeping extremism and every other ill that assails us we, despite the struggle, manage to lead ordinary lives.
There are the usual family disputes and ups and downs and the occasional mass murder of irritating relatives (not that I would ever think of doing such a thing myself, you understand) but for most of us it is going to be another Eid the Ordinary.
We will all eat more than is strictly good for us, grumble about the things we usually grumble about, gossip about distant branches of the family that were forever up to no good and are always on the edge of being disreputable, and then doze as an army of rugrats plough through the litter under the dining table. My Eid is going to be very ordinary – I hope – and I trust yours is too.
The writer is a British social worker settled in Pakistan. Email: email@example.com