by Zheng Kaijun
CAIRO, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- When many across the world are busy drawing up a wish list even Christmas and the New Year are still two months away, to some in the Middle East, where the Muslim's Eid al-Adha befalls right now, a spending spree can only be unfamiliar this time.
Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, is at least celebrated by slaughtering a sheep and sharing it with family and the poor. But even observing such a basic ritual turns a mission impossible for some like Eassa Badwan.
A 39-year-old father and an accountant in the Gaza Strip, Badwan has to give up the idea of spending 450 U.S. dollars on a sheep -- some 20 percent more expensive than last year.
The tight blockade in recent years and the ongoing violent tit- for-tat between Israeli and Gaza militants have pushed up the prices of almost every daily necessity. Badwan just used up all he had saved for the festival on the wears of his four kids.
Abu Khalil Ma'roof, another 40-or-so father in Gaza, is also too straitened to afford a sacrifice alone. "This year, I decided to share with four of my cousins a bull that we will slay on Friday (when Eid al-Adha starts), and share the cost."
Similar dilemma is common in Tunisia, where many say they need to borrow in order to buy a sacrificial sheep -- averagely 15 percent higher in price than last year. While in Egypt, vendors, though reluctant, reduce the price of the livestock, only to find it still hard to allure customers to dig down for the ought-to-be hot sale.
A sound economic recovery, even so eagerly anticipated, is still far from sight in many countries that were victimized by last year's unrest and are now headed by fledgling leadership. But at least stores reopened -- though attracting only window-shoppers in most cases, businesses revitalized, and smiles returned to the faces of many who had been through the toughest time.
"It is clear that prices are high and disorder persists, but at least the progress on the political settlement has boosted our hopes that the situation will be much better," said Khalid Abdulaziz, a state employee and father of seven in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, where a UN-brokered power transfer deal earlier this year introduced a new president and brought about international aid pledges.
MOMENT OF DESPAIR
However, Abdulaziz's optimism is not shared.
In sheer contrast is the dejection of the Syrians, and perhaps as well of Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy who initiated an Eid cease-fire between the Syrian army and the rebel forces but only to see its abortion the first day.
The two conflicting parties, trading barbs on each other for breaching the truce, engaged themselves in incessant clashes across Syria for consecutive days in the four-day holiday of Eid al-Adha, which Muslims believe to be an occasion for spreading peace and love.
The interrupted cease-fire glues most Syrians to their homes, while the case is worse for the internally displaced, who usually cram in one house with a big family and complained about the vanishing Eid joy; and the worst for the refugees seeking shelters outside Syria.
Unequipped camps, insufficient aid, and neighboring countries' deepening frown at their influx suggest that a wish now for a warm winter is more realistic than a decent Eid celebration.
Meanwhile, festivals mean also misfortune to violence-hit Iraq, where it takes courage going out for any festivity as suicide bombings have become the country's most distinguishing label.
HOPE IN THE EYE
Everything of the accumulated troubles in the regional -- political, social or economic -- were unfurled by the unrest last year -- some worsened by it as well. Yet it may take longer to address them all so as to bring back a genuine carefree Eid al- Adha in the future.
Once the region's uncontested Heracles and one of the first to ouster their ex-leaders last year, Egypt is still plagued by severe joblessness, which turns many youths into professional protesters; and shortages in electricity, gas and even bread that easily drive men in the street crazy.
But Hazim Mustafa, a university-graduated taxi driver in Cairo, still pins hope on the days to come. He deems that the new helmsman of the country should pay attention to "strength" and " love" to lead its people to prosperity.
"Strength helps the country to achieve the expectant revitalization, and love gathers people from all factions together, " he said.
In Syria, citizens like 25-year-old Hamza also have faith in the right thing.
"This nightmare should stop and people should start to learn how to love and accept each other. Not war and hatred," he said.
Had all known this, tranquility and joy will not be a distance away.