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Chasing The Uunsi: How Grief Affected My Most Beloved Eid Tradition

The daqabad (incense burner) has many stories on me. Like the time I spilled charcoal on my aunt’s carpet and my cousin and I wrote a detailed apology that my aunt promised to read on our 18th birthdays. My favourite part of Eid spring cleaning was helping to light the charcoal and overuse frankincense bought from what I call ‘The Somali Mile’. Whenever guests would announce they were making the two-bus trek to our old house, the first task would be sourcing the ingredients for a smell so homely and welcoming as you enter. It’s been five years since we have set out any uunsi (incense). 

It lingered in the air of my second home in Southall, where I found out the matriarch of our family – my mum’s sister – was ill. She shortly came to live with us, and between appointments, A Levels and processing this news, Eid traditions fell by the wayside. Having said that, the greatest Eid ever for me was ordering bhajia from Ealing Road – our local for over 20 years – and watching Good Will Hunting and 10 Things I Hate About You with her and my mum.