We are couple of days away from the most awaited month of the Islamic Calendar – the month of Ramadan. Every Muslim knows the significance, the sanctity and purpose of Ramadan as described in Quran itself in the 2nd Surah “Surah Al-Baqarah” in a very short and concise form. Apart from Quran there are plenty of Ahadiths describing its importance and how it should be celebrated and how our beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) used to wait and celebrate this blessed month.
I am neither a scholar nor qualified enough to add any value to the sanctity, significance and importance of this month which you will be reading daily through various articles published in daily papers and lectures on TV and on different forums. All I can do is to go through the memory lane to recollect some of my memories about this month and how it transformed for me over the years.
My early memories of Ramadan consist of my childhood where Ramadan in our family was an occasion of anticipation, waiting and of utmost contradictory feelings in the family which was a combination of some not so old, some young and some very young members who used to wait for this month with varying sentiments.
My mother and my oldest sister ( who herself was in her late 20’s) used to be most tense as to the responsibility of fulfilling the need and fantasies of entire family which rested on their shoulders regarding change of timings, menus, tastes and demands of food for different group of fasting and non-fasting members.
Everyone wanted the most delicious, tasty, rich food especially at Iftar and Sahur, which was not always possible in meagre means of income of one person supporting a household of about a dozen of members of various ages and temperament.
I remember my mother and my sister busy in making “Vermacilli” through a very crude old machine and drying them on the roof in the sun, but also being mindful of saving them from dust and dirt by covering them with thin muslin cloth spread on the floor on the home made “ DAREES” ( a type of commonly used rugs).
There were very elaborate arrangements to prepare some Mango, peaches, and different ACHAARS (Pickles) to add to the taste of normal food served.
The day in Ramadan for cooking used to start a little bit late than usual because everyone used to get up late due to being awake half the night to prepare and eat the food at Sahur which mostly used to be as elaborate and heavy as on any other occasion with addition of some sweet items like “Kheer” or milk with some other items like “Jalebees or Biscuits” dipped in there.
Sahur used to be a compulsory meal for everyone whether they will fast or not the next day. In our family the fasting team consisted of my mother and my three sister two of whom used to be very grumpy and irritated most of the day being an extra burden on the nerves and patience of my mother and my elder sister.
My brother in law had a VIP status being served the most energetic, healthy and fresh items both in Iftaar and Sahur and next to him was my status being the youngest, weakest and the most pampered in the family, who till quite late did not fast but enjoyed all the privileges of the fasting population of the family, which was also one of reasons my two young sisters (older than me) being so irritated about.
The 30 days of Ramadan were busy, tasty and tense all at the same time, but coming of EID was another tense time for the elders as well as the young’s because of lack of resources and abundance of demand on the meagre salary of my brother in law and small amount saved during the year by my mother and elder sister out of their monthly house hold budget. I remember the excitement and disappointments of Eid every year first because of new shoes or new clothes but equal dismay of having them of lower quality or compromised style due to the lack of funds.
On Eid day it was the tradition that most of family friends used to visit our house first while back from Eid prayers as our house being the first on the way back from “EID Gah” as a tradition from my father’s time and every one was served Rice, Black Urad and Kabaabs with Sheer Khurma which were cooked almost the whole night of Eid and served till the late afternoon.
Another mathematical financial disaster awaited during Eid of distribution of Eidees to the children of the visiting family members which had to be delicately balanced by the once received by us and being given to them which always used to be a deficit budget as every one’s families were expanding except ours.
After Eid I remember a sense of calm in the family after a very busy, tense but equally exiting month and my mother used to be completely exhausted physically and mentally.
But then we grew up and our financial, local and social status changed, and our center of attention shifted more from family to friends society and with a little bit ease of money buying the latest style of clothes and shoes and worrying more about the forthcoming visits of our friends who during the whole year never had any time for us and we visiting them in return and the menus of food to be served. Our Ramadans and Eids were less exciting but more social and artificial.
Now being out of all these stages our Ramadan is more sober a little bit more peaceful but more cautious about our Iftars and Sahurs intake based on our Blood pressure and Cholesterol readings and trying to manage our time between prayers and sleeping to keep us fit for Taraweeh prayers, but children and youngster still bring us back the memories of our own time in different age and social atmosphere.
Presently every coming Ramdan is a mercy from God to give one more chance for us to repent on our sins and trying to distance ourselves from the Hell Fire which with advancing age look more real, closer and frightening.
This year also I am feeling very blessed of getting one more Ramadan of whatever few remaining and intend to pray for me my family and the entire Muslim Ummah to have a better and blessed lives on this earth and hereafter.
A VERY HAPPY AND BLESSED MONTH OF RAMADAN TO ALL.
Rais Khan is a Chartered Accountant and an author. He has worked in corporate sector for 40 years in a variety of corporations ranging from IBM to Etisalat in UAE. He has worked and lived in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, USA, Africa and the UAE. Currently he is a freelance business consultant and part-time writer. He is the Editor of Pehchaan and can be contacted at email@example.com