Ramadan

An Essay By Kyleigh // 9/12/2009

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I have 2 other stories I'm working on right now... one is Faith Victorious, which I just had a breakthrough in, and the other is a new one kinda about the Alamo, which I'm stuck on...

 

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Sand blows across my feet as I stand outside, watching. The sun beats down on me, its heat causing beads of sweat to roll down the sides of me face. I lick my parched lips. Oh how thirsty I am! Then my stomach rumbles, and reminds me of my hunger. I glance up at the sun. It was still high above me. Iftar could not come soon enough for me today. I looked both ways and crossed the street. I wandered through the deserted souks. That was the thing about Ramadan – everything shut down in the afternoon. But at night! Oh how the city came alive then. With the evening call to prayer and then Iftar, people began to fill the streets, traveling to visit relatives, buying food, even begging for food – and the beggars would get much food – for in Ramadan, good works counted even more. My stomach rumbled even more loudly as I walked past the closed date booth. I could eat dates forever. I left the souks and journeyed  to the water front, where the abras lay, unused at this time of day during Ramadan. Beside them, larger dhows were moored in the water, rising and falling as the waters of the creek lapped their sides. Fishing nets hung over the sides, dry now from the early morning fishing trips. I could not wait for the Iftar tonight – I knew that my aunt, my Khala, my mother’s sister, was making byriani with dried fish tonight.  The only things that surpassed the dried fish were dates, sambosas, and dough balls, L9qa'alima't. 

            As I left the waterfront, I glanced at a clock through the window of a restaurant. It was now four. Iftar did not come until almost seven. I stared up at the sun, begging it to set faster, and then never to rise until the new moon – because with the new moon came Eid and the end of Ramadan. And Eid meant new clothes, money, more good food, and more visits. Were it not for the long days of fasting, Ramadan would be my favorite time of the year. We visited every night in my grandmother’s Ramadan tent, eating and drinking late into the night, then sleeping until just before sunrise, when we would eat again.

            But now, in the hours of fasting, when the heat beat down, when my stomach growled, when my throat was dry… I could not wait for the night to come. I brushed away a fly, walking faster to get out of the heat. The hem of my abaya was covered in sand, making it look almost white in contrast to the black. As I neared my house, I fixed my sheyla and stepped inside the gate of my khala’s villa. 

            “A’salaam a’laykum,” I said loudly. My cousins poured out to meet me, chattering about many things in their joy to see me. I smiled and picked up the littlest one, carrying her inside with me. I kicked off my flip-flops as I entered. My aunt was busy in the kitchen with her maids, preparing the Iftar meal. After I greeted her, I took off my abaya and sheyla, then busied myself helping her in the kitchen. My mother, siblings, and father would be here before too long, and then we would all break the fast together. Time moved slowly as we cooked. It was so hard to be near food yet not be allowed to eat it. But Ramadan is a time to flee temptation. How can we flee unless there is temptation? I longed for a glass of cold water, or maybe some lemonade, and then some tea. And dates. I would feast on dates tonight! I rolled dough balls in my palms absentmindedly. The smell of the byriani filled the kitchen. I checked the huge pot of hareesa that was cooking near the byriani. I could not wait for Iftar.

            My family arrived, and the house went wild as my siblings and cousins played together. After many more greetings we returned to preparing our meal. Then it came.

            “Allah who ‘akbar!” The muezzin called from the mosque.

            Joyfully, we carried pots of food and stacks of plates out to the majlis, or sitting room, and served the food. Finally we could eat! I ate heartily, first dates, then digging in to the byriani. The hareesa and dough balls would come later, when we had visitors after the extra prayers – for we prayed more during Ramadan, because it was the time when the heavens were open, and God hears our prayers better.

            After our prayers are finished, we leave for my grandmother’s tent, bringing with us dough balls and hareesa. There we eat more, even if we are not hungry. We play games, and drink tea, and watch television. My favorite show is on, only during Ramadan. The little ones fall asleep and wake up as they please. We have no school during Ramadan this year, and so have no worries about waking up in time or homework.

            Early in the morning, we eat once more. Then I go to the door of the tent and look out, scanning the horizon.

            The sun has risen.

            We must fast once more.

 

Comments

Hmm...

I'd like more background on this piece. Where'd the idea come from?

Julie | Sat, 09/12/2009

Formerly Kestrel

The idea...

The idea came from just walkin' from parking into the dr.'s office - it's a bit of a walk, so my mind started wandering. Anyway, it being the middle of Ramdan (the month of fasting for Muslims, when they believe heaven is more 'open' because it's the month during which Mohammed got his revelation).
Then as I got going writing it it went from just walking around here to a day of Ramadan from the view of a girl who is fasting.

Kyleigh | Sat, 09/12/2009

Cool piece, Kyleigh. I liked

Cool piece, Kyleigh. I liked hearing about Ramadan in the viewpoint of someone who had grown up with it. I've heard of it before, but had never read anything like this.

Heather | Sun, 09/13/2009

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

good

I like this, Kyleigh. It's an interesting idea. My mother makes a sort of Syrian desert that is called hareesa--I wonder if you're talking about the same thing?

Annabel | Sun, 09/13/2009

So it is in the summer right now!

I know that the muslim calandar drifts relative to the solar year, and I was discussing with my mother the other day about how awful it must be when Ramadan is in the summer.  Especially in Iraq, where I've heard it gets to something like 120 F or worse.  No water all day!  That can't be good for your health...

Excelent piece, Kyleigh.  And I'm looking forward to reading Faith Victorious...

James | Sun, 09/13/2009

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Hareesa...

I don't think this is the same - it's not a dessert, and I believe it's an Emirati dish. Basically it's wheat germ and chicken that they mix together and cook all day. The taste isn't too bad, but the texture is kind of glue-like. The locals love it, but it's a big joke among the Westerners here who have had it, because we really don't like it.

 

James - Yes, it is in summer now. Each year it gets a little over a week earlier... when we moved here in 2006 Eid was around October 25th, this year it's September 20th (about... nobody knows for sure yet, it's based off of the moon so we have to wait until the official guys in Saudi see the moon to know it's done).  Yes, our friends have commented about how hard it is in the summer. Thankfully now it's cooling off a LOT. Even in cooler weather it's not good for your health!
I'm excited for y'all to read FV, too... I like what I have written so far, but for a while I kept running into glitches or things in the plot I needed to decide. For the longest time I had no idea how I was going to end it.

Kyleigh | Mon, 09/14/2009

Good piece!

 I loved reading about this!  I've never really understood Ramadan before, and you made it so much clearer.  I always love to read your work - you have such a unique perspective!

Mary | Mon, 09/14/2009

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Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

Wow, that's really

Wow, that's really interesting. I have an uncle who is Muslim and celebrates it, so when we have family gatherings we sometimes have to plan our meals at night. I always thought it was just for a day, though! Not a month!

Erin | Tue, 09/15/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

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