During the summer vacations, Bilal got tired of the city and thought of going somewhere. He decided to spend a few days with his cousin Zubair in his village.
When Bilal got down from the bus, he saw that the village was decorated with buntings and colourful flags. The streets were crowded with men, women and children in a holiday mood. Bilal was pleased to see all this. His cousin welcomed him with open arms. He said that Bilal could not have chosen a better time for his visit as the annual village fair was in full swing.
"What do you want to see first?" asked Zubair.
"I don't know enough of the fair to tell you where to start from," Bilal said.
"Then we'll start with the first interesting thing that comes our way."
The open ground outside the village was crowded with people. Children had gathered around the swings and merry-go-rounds, waiting for their turns.
The two friends moved towards a crowd which had gathered in a big circle. A drum-beating competition was in progress. Eight drummers were beating their drums. Everyone was trying to do his best to get the first prize. The noise was defeating. The two boys waited for some time but there seemed to be no end to it. So they moved on towards the bazaar.
"I don't remember having seen so many shops in this village," Bilal said.
"You will not see them again till the next annual fair," laughed Zubair. Most of them are temporary shops set up for the fair. People come from far off places to buy and sell their goods. It is a good time to do business as most of the villagers do their shopping there."
All types of goods from handkerchiefs to farming tools were being sold in the shops. Girls were buying rings and bangles. Women were intrested in household goods, specially pottery milk-churners and toys for the children. Men were buying farming tools and such other articles.
Restaurants were playing popular music and were serving delicious food. They were a great attraction for those who had come from far, and had no relations in the village.
Big crowds had gathered here and there. People were laughing and clapping at whatever they saw. The friends moved towards one of the groups and peeped inside the circle. A bear was tied to a pole. A fight was going on between, the bear and three fierce dogs.
Bilal said, "I don't like this cruel game. Let's go somewhere else."
Close by, the ever popular monkey man was playing his wooden tambourine to attract the people. The monkey was imitating an angry husband with a furious face, and a proud man walking with his hands folded behind his back and his nose up in the air. The clever monkey also performed some other tricks. The boys enjoyed every bit of this show.
Conjurers, jugglers and acrobats gave great joy to the children. The conjurer took Bilal's handkerchief and tore it into pieces. When he returned it to him, Bilal was astonished to see it undamaged. The juggler juggled with seven balls at a time without dropping any of them.
A loud clapping made the boys turn in the direction of a man walking on a tight rope. He walked on to the end of the rope and then started climbing up the pole. He reached, the top end and lay down flat balancing himself on the pole. It was quite a dangerous performance. A little carelessness could result in a fall, but he came down safe and sound and got a big cheer from the crowd. No one is too old to enjoy the tricks of these entertainers.
There was a special announcement that horse-races were to start in a few minutes. The friends rushed there to get a place in the front. Proud owners of beautiful horses were making them walk and dance to the music of drums. The riders took their positions, the whistle blew and the horses galloped off. The people shouted with joy when their favourite horse won the race.
Tent-pegging was another popular sport. Wooden pegs were fixed in the ground. The riders had to pull them out with their lances as they rode by at a gallop. The successful riders marched round the field, their lances held up proudly. The people cheered them loudly wherever they went.
Then they saw dog races. The dogs chased a rabbit. They were anxious for the rabbit but it reached the mark safely and vanished under cover just when the dogs came near.
There were still quite a number of things to be seen but the boys were too tired. They turned homeward, tired but happy.