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Ramadhan and I

September 6, 2007

I woke up very early today at around 4am. I stared at the ceiling for a moment after reciting my ‘woke-up prayer’. I thought it was just before five as that’s when my alarm goes off.

I was still in bed waiting for the sound of verses read from the nearby mosque when I realised that I had been in bed for quite awhile. Then only I reached for my watch and looked at the time with half eye closed. When I saw it was 4ish, both eyes opened in alarm!

I wondered, what on earth did I wake up at that time for? I went to the bathroom still pondering on what to do for the next couple of hours. I had bought two DVDs last night but not in the mood yet to watch them. I have eight novels I just bought but still not in the ‘reading’ mode yet.

I had a good shower and said to myself to just wait for the early prayer. So I sat on the mat, reciting praises for God when I realised that I felt somewhat moved. I know Ramadhan is coming and I have been excited about it for the past month.

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. It comes from the Arabic word, ramida or ar-ramad, meaning scorching heat or dryness. Since Muslims are commanded to fast during the month of Ramadhan, it is believed that the month’s name may refer to the heat of thirst and hunger, or because fasting burns away one’s past sins.

Fasting is meant for all the physically and matured Muslims. Children are encouraged to fast as this is the way to teach them how to fast. When I was a child, my late father used to encourage my siblings and I to fast. Those who managed to fast for the whole day will get fifty cents. In those days, fifty cents can buy you a cola, the infamous Chuppa Chup candy and a yummy (expensive) ice cream. For half day, we would be given a quarter, enough to buy a Chuppa Chup and one small yummy ice cream, like the Ice Potong. (No wonder I have toothache when I was small!)

The best time would of course be the sungkai or the breaking of the fast. After almost twelve hours of fasting, a bottled cold water would be your dearest friend. My mom and elder sister would usually be busy preparing a buffet-style sungkai. There would be the Malay kueh such as onde-onde (my fav), cucur pisang or banana fritters (also my fav) or putu mayang (my old time fav – am I telling you I have a sweet tooth?). Then we have the main course – rice (of course), fish, meat or chicken and lots of vegges (my mom’s fav) and for dessert we had bubur or sweet gravy, usually yam and sweet potatoes, and if we could afford, fruit salad as fruits like apples and oranges were expensive to us during those time.

In the evenings for the whole month of Ramadan, my late father and brothers would be performing the Tarawikh prayer at the mosque while I helped my elder sister with the dishes. Those were the innocent, peaceful and carefree days. As I grew older I understood what Ramadhan meant and why should we fast during the hot day. Actually I didn’t think too much about Ramadhan during my growing up years until I was abroad furthering my studies, I came to realise how special Ramadhan is.

Fasting in your hometown is not the same when you are away from home. I was homesick for most of the time while abroad but after that I was ok. It’s just that the Ramadhan that made me wanted to go home. I guess I always thought that Ramadhan brought the family together and that’s important to me. So now I have my own family, I make sure that my children know how special the holy month is. Nope, I didn’t ask my other half to give them fifty cents when they completed a day’s fasting, just a dollar a day and that’s like $30 for the whole month. I thank God that I still live to see another Ramadan, Insya Allah.

For those who want to know more on Ramadan:

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