The blessed month of Ramazan was about to begin. My mum was busy making preparations for it, such as freezing food, buying dates and drinks. She had also distributed dates to our friends, family and servants as a goodwill gesture.
On the evening the Ramazan mood was sighted, my mum asked me if I wanted to fulfil this special religious obligation and fast the next day. I replied in the affirmative because I wanted to understand and feel how the poor felt without food or water.
She said, “So now it’s time that you understand the importance of keeping a fast too! You’re a grown-up girl after all. If you do, we will celebrate your first fast with an Iftar party, a roza khushai. And you will also get gifts on this important milestone.”
I got very excited. The idea of getting gifts and my favourite food was tempting. It seemed too good to be true. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. That night I stayed up till Sehr.
Mum gave me a date, a bowl of yoghourt, a banana and half an apple for Sehr meal. I had some water and waited sleepily for the Azaan. So after offering Fajir prayers, I snuggled into my bed and fell asleep.
I woke up at one in the noon. I went downstairs and cooked myself pancakes with Nutella and bananas. I had totally forgotten that I was fasting. The delicious smell wafted out of the kitchen. Just as I was about to take the first bite, my mum came in the kitchen and stopped me from eating.
“You are fasting, my dear!” she reminded me.
“Oh,” I suddenly remembered. Thus, reluctantly I had to give my delicious pancakes to my younger brother to eat, who had a devilish grin at the thought of having them. Then I took a shower and offered the Zohr prayers. I passed some more time by reading the Holy Quran. Then I lay down and kept on watching the wall clock, desperate for water.
By Asr, I was experiencing severe hunger and thirst. I felt so dehydrated that I immediately thought of how poor people survived the whole day without food. The feelings were an eye-opener to me. Before that I never knew what it was like to feel hungry or thirsty as we always have something to eat and drink. We get whatever we want and never have to wait for anything. I thanked Allah for bestowing me with so many blessings.
I lay on my bed with these thoughts and somehow I dozed off for an hour and was woken up by mum. She asked me to get ready as we had to go to a restaurant for the Iftar party to celebrate my first fast.
During the ride to the restaurant, my mum was telling me a lot of good things and also told me that we fast to make Allah happy and learn how to have patience and to feel empathy for the poor. I nodded, feeling guilty as I stared down, thinking that my thoughts during this fast was all about the gifts I was going to get and the delicious food I was going to eat. This made me feel ashamed.
At the restaurant, everyone was so happy for me as I was the reason for this get-together. Finally, when the Maghrib prayer call was heard, mum asked me to say a prayer and break the fast. We all had water, dates and mouth-watering food like pakoras, nuggets, fries and fruit chat. I greedily filled my stomach. We went to offer prayer in the restaurant’s mosque.
After that, everyone gave me gifts. I was so happy and excited. We all sat and chatted for a while until it was time for Taravih, and we prepared to go home.
This is true that I wanted to receive gifts, but it is also true that I learned the ordeal of the poor people who have nothing to eat or drink. Life for them is a struggle, we privileged people should not help them in Ramazan only, we should also help them throughout the year so that not for a single day do they have to sleep without having food.
Published in Dawn, Young World, May 11th, 2019