Ramadan has always been special to me, with one of my close friends observing this month. I am amazed as to how Muslims all over the world, maintain a strict fast, whether it be summer or winter, going to work, and functioning all day without a drop of water, and not once do they complain.
Every Ramadan, I fast on one day. It begins with my friend calling me in the middle of the night, amidst the orchestra of my own alarms, to wake me up for sehri. Eventually, it is him screaming on the phone,
“Soor, you have only 10 minutes left! Wake up, and eat something!”
And all my plans for an elaborate breakfast with bread toast, butter and tea go up in a yawn. I end up gulping water and biscuits, and falling right back into bed.
The next morning is worse, waking up to the smell of tea, only to find out there’s none for me, and as the day progresses lazily, the brain begins to crave for the sugar and the caffeine. Work is affected, as even after a whole night’s sleep, I am tired, and it is only 11am.
At 12, mom begins to add tadka on the food, and my stomach groans, and I begin to feel what a diabetic patient feels on low sugar, dead. Mom, who has forgotten that I’m fasting, prepares my favorite curry. My concentration levels begin to sink. I refuse to sit at the dining table with my family during lunch, and instead go to bed.
Tossing in bed, turning the AC on and off, I fall asleep, and for a good 3 hours. All my day’s work is still pending, and there’s still 4 hours before I can eat or drink anything. Twice I go to the kitchen, fill my glass up with chilled water, only to realize I cannot drink it. My mouth gets drier by the minute, and now all I can think about is water.
I try to divert my mind by flipping through the TV channels, watching random music videos and watching random bits of multiple movies. And finally it is 6pm, an hour left. And as every year, iftar is at my friend’s home.
I reach there half an hour before time, to the aromas of paradise. The frying of samosas and pakode, and the preparation of a dozen dishes for iftar and dinner. I assist my friend in making a concoction of Roohafzah and watermelon juice, and the tinkling of the ice against the glass canister is music to my ears. The tables are set, the dates are pitted and the seed is replaced by almonds meticulously as the other guests begin to come.
And finally the moment I was waiting for, the nearby mosque announces the time for iftar with a siren, and I have my date ready. The first bite I take, and the first thing that automatically comes to my mind is praise for God, for providing a meal. And just this one day made me realize how it feels to go hungry, and how fortunate we are to have access to food.