September 15, 2008
The first years of Ramadan for me were spent in Fujairah, an east cost emirate of UAE. Fujairah is a peaceful place, unlike Dubai, with some farms, many villas and a peaceful and wide sea – the Gulf of Oman, reaching up to the costs of Cochin in Kerala. The thought of my homeland on the other side of the sea made me more attached to the sea than anything in Fujairah. I also loved it for its calmness, there were only few people at the beach, and so we had our own area in the beach.
There isn’t much to remember about the Ramadan in Fujairah. Ramadan came during the school days, and we were not allowed to take food to school on those days. One thing I remember about those days were lying that I was fasting. Also, our parents encouraged us to take half day fasts only. So it was two half day fasts into full day. And when somebody asked me about the number of days we had fasted, we would say four and a half or five and half and so on. I would compete with the number of days we had fasted with my younger brother, who is two years younger to me. The most difficult thing for us then and now is the shuhoor, or the late night dinner which you have in the middle of the sleep. I remember my brother getting for the shuhoor, and then the next day he will be saying, “I don’t remember anything I ate for the shuhoor.” On day he said, “I saw only the white walls when I got up for the dinner.” Hehehe. The thing that fascinated me more was the plates full of fruits and snacks at iftaar.
We were shifted to India, when I was in seventh grade, to an Islamic residential school. During the first two years, the school closed during the Ramadan. That was the time of mischief for us, me, my brother and our cousins. We had nothing particular to do in the mornings of Ramadan and so we all get out of the house into the near by farms. We would steal mangoes, gooseberries and guavas from the farms and hide it under our dresses till night. Sometimes, we will also go to the near by shops and buy some locally made toffees, with the money grandpa would give us. At night, when the elders have gone to sleep, we would get up and share the pieces of mangoes and other things between us. For this, we would all sleep in the same room, or near by rooms. We used to take all the 29 or 30 days of fast.
During the last days of Ramadan, grandpa would give us money to buy bangles and hair clips for eid. The boys would buy fire-works or toys like guns and cars. We would also buy some sweets. Grandpa loved us so much that he won’t allow us to take fast till the dusk. According to him, children need fast only till the noon. For him, I was a child even when I was at college! He used to scold grandma for making us fast till the dusk, even when I was in my late teens. According to him, we were still his kids. He passed away some three years back, or we would have been his kids even now! May Allah shower his forgiveness and peace upon him, make his abode wider and gather us in his paradise. Ameen.
From my ninth grade onwards, our school started working for Ramadan. That bought a change in me. We had schools only till noon, unlike normal days when we had schools till the evening. After school we, me and my friends, would sit to recite some Qur’an and we had Islamic classes in the mosque. I was getting into the real Ramadan, with all its life in me. The saddest day and the most memorable day of my life in Ansar, my school, was the day when my friend’s mother gave birth to twins, and they died with in an hour. Friendship in Ansar was something that I have not known before or after, it was a very special bond. My friend’s tears seemed to be my own, and it was the same for everybody. We all wept a lot that day. The Ramadan was also special in a way that we had great and good seniors to guide us, who were very loving. And yeah, I remember the day when one of my roommates’ father died. I came to know of the event before her from my teacher. My teacher asked me not to tell her about it until somebody came from her home. She was good at singing, and used to sing a song which meant something like this:
Why is my father, who gets up for fajr everyday, sleeping under this white blanket today….
Why didn’t my father call me today in the morning, to pray the fajr with him…..
Why isn’t my father talking to me, what I have done to make him angry with me….
Those words of the song still echo in my ears, and that was the last Ramadan she sang that song. During the last year of my school life, we celebrated the last Eid with our friends in hostel, one of my best Eids!
After school, I went to an Engineering college. Thanks for the Muslims friends I got at college, or Ramadan would have been a difficult time for me. There were some 20+ Muslim students in out hostel, and some really nice boys in our college. A lady in the town promised to cook iftaar and shuhoor for us, and the boys would deliver it on time. That was how we spent our first year at college. During the second year, we changed our hostel to another one, owned by a Muslim management. Fasting was made easier for us since w had iftaar and shuhoor cooked for us by the hostel cooks. We had tharaweeh prayer in jama’ath and we celebrated the Eid with our friends, while usually we did it with our family. Ramadan lost its life when at college, since we had a busy schedule of exams, practical works and records while at college. And yeah, we were in our late teens, which meant years with boiling blood in our veins. We used to fight with our wardens, cooks and management for every silly problem that came across our way. Even though we had jama’ath prayers at hostel, we would never take part in it because we hated our warden so much. Forgive us, Allah. It was bread when we wanted bun. S we would go to the warden and shout at her. It was fish when we wanted chicken. We would sit there without eating anything, and the whole fish would be wasted.
But we soon realized our mistakes, when our college lost its recognition and we were transferred to another college. That was the last year of our college life. We decided to take a rented house, as we were all tired of our hostel life. It was one week before Ramadan that we got the house. We had no cooking utensils with us, and so we were not able to cook anything. We decided to seek help from a hotel near by, and Alhamdulillah, they agreed. They delivered the food for iftaar and dinner. It was tough, taking the food from hotel everyday. We started to regret for the problems we made in the hostel, when they would provide us with food. Here we had no choice of bread or bun, and chicken or fish. Just eat what we got. May be it was a punishment we got for making mischief at the hostel and a way Allah chose to teach us to be thankful to the food we got. That was the most difficult Ramadan we had so far, and a memorable one too. We had seminars at college, which extended till seven or eight, and magrib would be at six. We would keep apart the snacks we got at seminar, and use that to break our fast. We would be so tired, with the long busy day at college, and sometimes seminars would turn to sleeping time. It will be somewhat eight or nine, when we reach home, to the food from the hotel. The food would taste better by that time. We missed home so much those days.
After college, I was married. Ramadan was easier then, at home, with so much of spare time to do the ibaadaths. Ramadan became lively once more, after the school days. Food was also not a problem, when at home. The next year, I came to Dubai with hubby, and there was my co-sister’s mom to help during the first Ramadan at Dubai. I find the heat a bit of problem in Dubai, but I think I can stand it. And this Ramadan is my first Ramadan alone, with me doing all the cooking myself. I sit here, now and think of the days of Ramadan, every Ramadan special to me, in its own way. Some Ramadan bought so much of time and rest to me, so that I can pray and make a lot of ibaadaths. But during some Ramadans, I had to fight to keep up with the feelings of Ramadan. I believe it’s all over now, and Ramadan would be the same for me from now onwards, with no friends, brothers and cousins to make the days active. The life as an adult is really boring, na?