Ramadhan and Eid?
As the month of Ramadhan comes to a close - or so I'm told- preparations are underway for the great big celebration that is Eid il Fitr (the three day long shindig celebrating the end of the fast). Great time to be at home.. you get to see all sorts of family and friends, wear brand new clothes and have balalee6 oo baidh (sweet noodles and omelettes) for breakfast and goozi (a feast for the senses.. 'nuff said) for lunch on the first day. Yummy.
So how's my Ramadhan been? Don't ask. I haven't been back in Bahrain for Ramadhan or Eid for the last five years. I forgot the taste of that month's special food (thireed, harees and the rest of the gang).. I forgot what it felt like to have a big family gathering on the first day of Eid, such a joyful day, a day where I used to recieve money from the elders for the occasion. A dinar here and a dinar there and at the close of business, at around 7pm, a counting session to see who got the most money. My first year in university my mom assured me that she had saved my Eid money in the bank for me.. over the last four years the amount has shrunken considerably (God, isn't he old enough to start making his own money by now? Why do we still keep giving him Eidiya?) with only my parents, Allah ya7fidhum, still making sure I get my Eid money in my account for when I come back on vacations.
As children we used to get Eid gifts in a very special way. I remember getting my GameBoy on the first day of Eid. This kerrr-aazy new gizmo that I can carry around with me to play games with.. my parents would put the gift next to my bed after I went to sleep so that I'd wake up in the morning and find it on the bedside table. Naturally, I'd wake up at around 5am to play with whatever I had gotten that year.. nothing works better as an alarm clock than a burning sense of anticipation in an 11 year old boy.
I miss all of that. Ramadhan is so damn desolate when you've got no atmosphere around you. It takes some serious determination and strength of faith to be able to fast by yourself, eat by yourself, and continue with the same timetable of normal days without food or drink. And then if you actually manage to fast the whole month, what do you get? Eid! Guess what I'll be doing this Eid? Well, it could potentially fall on a Wedensday or Thursday so I'm going to go absolutely nuts.. I'm going to go to my tutorials and various educational activities at the hospital, and then I'm gonna come back home, do some reading, eat my dinner and go to sleep so I can wake up and do it all over again on - you guessed it - the SECOND day of Eid!
Last year's Eid I think I took the day off from the hospital and went to watch a movie with a friend.. I don't think I can afford to do so this year, my consultant certainly wouldn't appreciate it if I did. I went down to see my brother in England a week ago and I managed to fast two or three days. It was nice, there's a good Bahraini group of kids there and they cook if6ar and are living in (a slightly excessive) Ramadhan mode: they stay awake until 3 or 4 in the morning watching Arabic tv shows on satellite, then wake up at 3pm the next day. Having that whole atmosphere made it easier, even though I was waking up at 10 I could still get through the day with the promise of a nice, home cooked meal. What do I get if I decide to fast in Dublin? A headache lasting from 7am to 5pm and a rushed pizza in the oven, that's what.
I know, I know.. I'm just being weak. It can be done, and Muslims all over the world do it in foreign countries. The feeling of Ramadhan has always been the clincher for me, and when I don't get that its very hard to live the month. Maybe its my fault for not surrounding myself with Arabic or Muslim friends. The past 26 days have just been the 4th to the 30th of October for me, in truth. All those feelings of guilt I used to get for not fasting are becoming easier to sweep away each year. Maybe someday I'll get it all back, and I know its going to feel fantastic. And on that note I'm going to end this disjointed, disillusioned rant.
Hope you had a great Ramadhan, 9iyamin maqbool if you've fasted, and Eidkum Imbarak to all.