Ramadan will be with us at the end of the week. I have been indulging in too many gastronomical activities to realise its coming but now that I am looking through the google calendar, it suddenly dawned upon me how near it is to us now.
Other than the usual spiritual lessons, chapters, facts etc that we have been told again and since since we were young of its significance, Ramadan memories to me are magical. Sometimes thinking about them made me laugh or cry myself silly.
I started fasting when I was in Kindy1 @ 5 years old. It was my father’s proudest time that I completed my full day fasting for the whole month at 5 years old. But I realised that I was already a die-hard foodie back then. I had many uncles and aunties and I made each of them bring back something for me to ‘buka puasa’ with, or else bear with my tantrum. I remember vividly the packs of kaka, keropok, mamee or kandos or whatever they brought back lined in one straight long line, beginning with what I want to eat first. Terrible I know. So if I talk too much about food now, know that I started young. Very young infact. ( Disclaimer: gluttony is a sin. I am a bad example to follow :P).
Years later when I was in Pri 3, I cheated on my fasting. That was in the early 80s where playing police and thieves were the IN thing during recess periods. Being the super hyper active kid, who can resist it, fasting or not? And most of the time I ended up the only girl playing police and thieves with all the boys, which gave double the exhilaration but sapped twice as much energy. Once, I remembered I couldn’t stand it anymore, I actually marched into the canteen 5 minutes before the bell rang and gulped a glass of ice-cold red coloured syrup –10 cents per glass. Then I felt guilty like hell.
I was in the afternoon session and the sun was scorching hot and I knew if I don’t drink something after a full half an hour of running and screaming in the field, I won’t survive the rest of the day. But breaking fast to play police and thieves was not a good reason at all to give my parents. Not at all. I felt so bad and the boys with whom I played with gave me my first most important lesson in life to be street smart — ‘kalau mak awak tak tau awak minum, macam mana dia nak marah awak?’ Basically in adult speak, what your parents don’t know won’t hurt them. The very wise advice coming from a gang of 9 year old boys to the only girl amongst them. That night, when I joined my parents for iftar, guilt was painted in bright red all over my face and I dare not speak less I accidently blurt out about that 10 cent cup of ice cold syrup. ( Disclaimer: My parents still don’t know about this! Shhh )
In teenage years, Ramadan was about writing the list on who to send Hari Raya cards to. Being from an all girls school especially those of us who actually went outside our school for our Malay classes at the MOELC, ( read: there were boys from the affiliated boys school in there! Wooohoo ), it was a case on which one of your crush actually give you or you dare sent to OR how MANY you received. Competition was rife and bitching was the game, never mind that it was Ramadan where we were taught to be all good and holy. But in a girls’ school, claws are aplenty and we learnt about the real life in the corporate world in there. Competitiveness rules, maybe that’s why girls from girl’s school are always ahead and fair better in competitions/corporate world? But I digress. But yeah Ramadan as a teen was definitely memorable in the most ‘kental/Obit’ way.
In young adulthood, Ramadan was the turning point of my life where I made the decision to put on the hijab. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever succumb to– not to anyone but my own self. I tried giving myself 1001 reasons why I shouldn’t wear it but 2002 reasons why I SHOULD came bouncing back to my hyperactive mind. It drove me crazy so one day I just woke up and told my mother I wanted to wear the hijab. She thought I was kidding or one of my many phases. But I was dead serious and she was a third surprised, a third happy and a third skeptical–in that order. She reminded me again and again not to let it be a phase- if I want to put it on, put it on properly and for good, not halfway. Well it is still on my head to this day, so it was not a phase- I think ;).
Then there was the first Ramadan as a married woman. The kind I had to wake up and prepare everything myself and be responsible for the husband’s sahur. I was far away from home and felt homesick like hell. And there were only two of us fasting – how boring could it be? And the same goes for evening break fast. Just the two of us. Without the noise and ‘kecoh-kecoh’ of a large noisy family. Warna 94.2 online was on my laptop like 24/7, seriously.
The most magical Ramadan was the ‘Cowboy Iftar’. A couple of my friends with whom I went to uni with, John and Khadijah were born and bred cowboy and cowgirl in a ranch deep in a Queensland outback, Australia. This husband and wife couple with then 4 kids, live on a ranch with cows and horses and stables and the whole works. Both of them became Muslim in some funny way which deserves another entry altogether. We happened to be in Queensland that Ramadan and decided to pay them a visit, and I told Khadijah ‘throw us the pure Muslim Cowboys do!’
And oh boy! We had iftar outside with the great Aussie Barbie ( BBQ) under the sky outside at the stables area and the rest wearing their cowboy hats ( gubra ) and right after the azan, while the barbie was on, we had country music playing and John sang country folk songs with his guitar. We then did our maghrib and isyak and tarawih not on praying mats but on dried hay on the ground under the sky full of stars.
It was purely magical.
Those were just some of my Ramadan magic… some. There were more but I think these are the ones I keep remembering with the coming of each Ramadan.
What’s yours? 😉