Ramzan or Ramadhan, whichever way you like it – I prefer Ramzan after learning that Ramadhan is a Saudi import and am not a big fan of the influence that place has had on Islam – is unlike any other months of the Islamic calendar, literally and otherwise. The beauty of the ninth month of the lunar calendar, is that you start looking out for it months in advance – ok three months for Ramzan, two months, Ramzan is only a week away; partly with a sense of anticipation and partly with dread. Of all the practices that Islam has, fasting is something that I relate to quite a bit, inspite of it being one of the most demanding one.
The way I look at it, and I am sure we all at some point find our own meanings while pursuing religious practises, it is the month of discipline – where by sheer force of will you tide over so many things. While on a normal day, even though you are stuffed, you still can’t resist the fragrance of a freshly fried bhajiya; during Ramzan, you somehow find it within you to whizz past it – maybe with some help from visualizing the sufra (the tablecloth on which sumptuous eatables are kept) that awaits you during iftaari !
Ramzan, to me, brings back beautiful childhood memories. As a kid I wanted to fast – maybe as a means to be counted as an adult, something which rather foolishly most children want – and would convince my mother every night to wake me up for sehri (the pre-dawn meal), cause without that there would be no fasting. The way I would know she was ‘conning’ me was when she would agree to wake me up and not ask me before sleeping what I would eat for sehri. Just before she would go to sleep, my class 5 angry self would approach her with the swagger of a cop who spots a person walking suspiciously on a deserted street in the night and ask: so why didn’t you ask me what I will eat for sehri? It means you aren’t waking me up and I am not fasting. I would then go to sleep with a huff.
Don’t ask about the delight on days that I would find myself awake for sehri. Having a breakfast with all family members at that hour was like being allowed entry in a privileged club meant only for adults.
After waking up, for the first half of the day, you don’t even begin calculating, knowing well that the counting will throw up a number that you wouldn’t particularly like. I think it’s around 5 o’clock, when, with a slightly heavy head, the sense of anticipation begins. Another highlight of the fast, is the final few moments before Iftaar (evening meal when the fast is ended), when you have actually conquered the day, but the last few minutes, knowing their importance quite well, will amble along leisurely. Also no matter what’s on the menu, there is no place like home for iftar. Just the pure unrushed serenity that ensures you end the fast not all at once but enjoy every moment, you’ve waited all day.
Here again, the key to iftar is to not declare an all out war on food/water, no matter how thirsty or hungry you are. My amateur self (I’m really making it sound like a life skill) would at times gulp down a few glasses of water as soon as it was time and the hunger just vanished and I’d feel so stupid. The right way of doing iftar – oh yes over the years I believe there is a right way – is to go real slow even though all your instincts want you to not bother going for the spoon and directly attack the utensils.
As roza’s pass by, my mind again tilts towards mathematics. It starts – I rather shamefully admit – right after the third fast is complete. Without exception, every year after the third fast, some part of my head displays this: 1/10th over. This is how it usually pans out:
5 days – 1/6th over
6 days – 1/5th over
10 days – 1/3rd over (WHOA)
12 days – 4/10th over (its true)
15 days – ½ over (super whoa)
And now, things start getting a bit slow just like the moments before iftaar and I give up on calculations till day 27 (9/10th) and then well Eid Mubarak :D. Pudhcha varshi lavkar ya