The build up to Ramadaan starts a couple of months ahead of time and we all wait in anticipation and then before we know it, it barely says hello before it is over again.
I was speaking to an aunt of mine in SA earlier today. I hadn’t yet gotten to wish her Ramadaan Mubaruk and I was reminded of Ramadaan in South Africa. The memories of Ramadaan in South Africa are so alive in my mind. The minutes before Iftaar, kids running with plates of hot savouries and treats sharing with neighbours, everyone sharing something they made. Us kids rushing back to take our positions so we could see the green light on the mosque, kids hanging out from apartment windows others on the street all waiting for the green light that will cause them to bolt to the table and scoff as much food down before it’s time to pray maghrib salaah.
Then there was the false calls of “light is oooonnnnn” and everyone would scuttle only for someone else to scream out that it isn’t and you left with that samoosa halfway to your mouth. The men would head off to the mosque and come back and your stomach would be sore from eating so fast that you couldn’t eat your dinner.
Us girls would get together to pray taraweeh salaah and not much taraweeh ever ended up happening, in fact some nights we just about made it throuh Esha with all the talking going on.
That was what Ramadaan was like in South Africa.
I remember though one Ramadaan, it was some test cricket match on in durban and I was 9 or 10. Most kids didn’t end up coming to school that day, they went to the cricket in the sweltering heat. I managed to convince the Uncle in the tuckshop to let me use the phone and called my mum to rescue me and three other friends. Luckily she was feeling generous and called school to get us out. The rest of the boys at school just bunked ( as we called it in SA). Everyone was meant to come back to my house but there wasn’t enough place so the boys had to take a bus. Anyway once we were all there we were bored and some bright spark, I dont remember who now, suggested to go to the corner cafe and break our fasts and no one would know. It was a hard task convincing my mum why we needed to go to the shop so the boys ended up going and we stayed at home. They then came back to tell us just how great it was sipping on an ice cold coke. The three of us felt very left out and decided that we’d break our fast and then go outside and the boys can get us a coke to share. So we go into the bathroom and use our hands to sip water but making sure we all read the dua we broke our fast. It wasn’t even a thirst quenching drink of water, most of it falling through our little fingers. We come back into the lounge to tell the boys about out dare devil stunt and could they now get us a coke. Slight problem though, they only had enough money for two cokes and now had no money left and none of us girls had money either. We tried to hatch a plan and get some off my mum but she was not budging saying she’d take us all to the supermarket and we could get what we liked. So we ended up breaking our fast mid afternoon all for an unsatisfying drink of water.
I guess the one good thing that came out of that is we all learned our lesson. We all felt like Allah was teaching us that lesson and I’m glad that we had the sense to feel guilty for what we did. I wonder if the others remember that day the way I do.
Ramadaan these days are abit different, maybe because I’m all grown up now, maybe in a way it has to do with migrating here. I guess it’s a combination of both. The atmosphere of Ramadaan that we had in South Africa can’t be captured here but then Ramadaan has taken on a meaning that isn’t just about atmosphere and food.
I have discovered what it means to empathise with those who are starving. It is not just something I can talk about but it’s something I feel I can now grasp just what it must be like every single day going without food. But all I can do is understand because truth be told I will never truly feel what they feel.
Ramadaan is now a month that is mine to cleanse not only my body but my mind and my heart and my actions. It’s a cleansing of both body and soul. It’s about making sure I pray on time and making that effort to truly connect with Allah with every prayer. Somehow it’s easier in Ramadaan to make that connection. It’s about trying to change all the negative behaviour for something more positive. It’s taking that step towards goodness. Not always achievable but everything starts with the first setp in the right direction. It’s about spending time connecting with the Quran, reading it with more understanding, more love. It’s about quiet moments reflecting on my life, my purpose and reinforcing this in my action.
This Ramadaan though, is for me. I told myself it would be my time, this Ramadaan I’m giving myself the gift of truly making the most of this month. I’m going to give more of myself, Im going to try and figure out who I want to be and what I need to do to become that person. I’m going to give myself the opportunity to not just complete the quran but rather understand what I do read. I’m going to gift myself with the opportunity to make this an AWESOME Ramadaan.
I’m going to try…
May you all have a splendid month and get out of it what you want.