I stepped onto the scale, cringing in advance as I heard the voices of my friends in my head, telling me they always gain weight during Ramadan. I opened one eye, then the other, and stared. I had lost 2kg. Either my scale was misguided, or there is something wrong with the way people eat at night. If you listen to the voices of my friends again, it is indeed the latter.
I am lucky enough to not be Malaysian, for once. I don’t have childhood memories to revive, I don’t have families, aunties and uncles, urging me to try one more dish, to take a bit more food, not to be shy. Though it does happen sometimes, when I have the chance to buka at a friend’s house.
I think it’s the lack of memories that save me. Not growing up with pasar ramadan, with huge long tables of varied dishes, with family warmth around me. They do say we associate food with emotions, and I think any cultural celebrations have a big role in it.
I guess I’m also lucky that it’s just so new for me. I can’t interpret Ramadan through my culture, so I can just follow what I think is right. Last night, a friend told me I was following the way of the Prophet more than he does. He was not the first one in telling me that. 3 dates here, a glass of soy milk there, a tomato salad and a cheese omelette. That’s how I buka-ed yesterday.
All the buffets and expensive meals would be such a waste for me. I can’t seem to eat a lot for buka, my stomach just fills up so quickly. The way people can splurge 80+rm on plates after plates is beyond my understanding, as I would just be full after the first one. Not worth the money, eh? :) But I do understand the need for a gathering of sorts, the “let’s make it special” kick we have during times of celebrations.
Some will argue that the celebration should be Raya, not Ramadan. I’ll have to agree with this.
“Puasa hari ni?”
“How’s the fasting going?”
There isn’t one day when someone is not checking up on me. Checking if I’m still ok, checking if I still like it.
The truth? I don’t even realize that I am fasting. Where is the pain, the hunger, the thirst? I don’t feel them. I usually have a pang of hunger around 1pm (at which point people around me will know it because I’ll always voice it out, like a kid discovering life) but it’s pretty much all there is about it. It doesn’t even feel difficult.
But then, I do miss eating sometimes. Just for the taste, not for the need.
I am constantly amazed at how little food I actually need. Man, had I been over-eating all that time?
There is definitely some things to ponder and to reflect on, soon, after Ramadan is over. Trying to find the balance between fasting and the previous amount of food I used to eat, this will be more of a challenge than the fasting itself. But it is a worthy one :)
Do I still like fasting? Yes. Without doubt. I find it an amazing experience.
I am a kid, in more ways than one.
I am given the opportunity to go back to the learning stages in life. Do you remember, as a kid, when you were surrounded by adults who knew. They had gone through the experiences, learned their lessons, spent time observing and making up their mind. You would look at them and, in your child’s mind, you somehow knew that, one day, all those things that excite you and make you wonder would not be new anymore. You knew that, one day, you would know, you would also have the experience, like the adults around you.
I feel like this kid.
I see my friends living through their Ramadan, going back to habits they have forged throughout their seasons of fasting, getting back into patterns, while I am wandering & wondering with big eyes, trying to understand how to forge my own patterns.
How often have I been voicing out something that has been so obvious for so long, for those around me?
How often have I said “I am hungry”, like a child explaining a discovery to his parents?
I am lucky. The people around me are amazing, whether they realize it or not.
A Qur’an given here, hours of questions answered there. A meal shared, a wake-up call in the morning.
Solidarity, community, sharing, love. And introspection.
A prayer in the mosque, me sitting at the back, observing, learning, reading the Qur’an in the darkness of the night.
I feel connected.
Thank you all, really.
Reflections – Masjid Putrajaya
(Thanks to Kenobi for allowing me to use his picture)