Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Memories of Past Ramadans (and Eidul Fitr)

Memories of Past Ramadans (and Eidul Fitr)

My early memory of fasting, was rather vague. I was probably about 7 years old when my parents encouraged me to fast. My father said I could fast half day. Yes, there is such a thing as half day fasting, said my father, eat sahur as usual, at 4am, ie before dawn, then don’t eat or drink in the morning, then when it has passed midday, and you cannot stand the hunger anymore, you can break fast..
So I was woken up for sahur, which usually was meagre fare of rice and ikan masin or fried eggs, as well as plenty of water to drink. After that my father would teach me to recite the niat for fasting.
“nawaitu sauma ghodin…”
I was taught to recite the niat, intention, or else my fasting would invalid.
After that I went back to sleep. Ah yes, it was a weekend, and I did not have to go to school.
In the morning, by 10am my throat was dry, and I was hungry too. So I asked my mother if it was half day yet, because my intention was just fasting for half day. My father heard, he laughed and then he asked my mother to cook rice for me. So that was my first half day fasting. Some of my school friends also related to me of their half day fasting.
In the later years, my father gradually encouraged me to fast for longer period, more than half day, eg, breaking fast at 2pm, 4pm or 5pm.
I remember that at one time when I was fasting, my father took me on a bike ride to town to buy groceries, and he introduced me to the Indian Muslim grocer, that I have been a good boy, but tired from fasting, I was so tired at 6pm, that when I lie down I saw stars. My father told me to break my fast at 6pm, only about half an hour before iftar time.

Only much later that I learnt that there is no such thing as half day fasting.

Ramadan has always been a special time for us kids. We would have sweet iced syrup water for iftar to quench our thirst. Usually it was rose syrup, reddish maroon in colour, sweetened with lots of sugar. In the days of no electricity, we would buy the block of ice from the ice seller. Our town, Tanjong Karang had an ice factory which normally supply ice to fishermen, and yes they have electricity in town. The factory produce ice in big chunk about one cubic meter. I normally saw two elderly Chinese gentlemen cutting down the ice block to smaller sizes using huge saw. Some enterprising older boys would buy one or two ringgit worth of ice, pack it into a square wooden box behind their bicycle and sell then door to door. To keep it cool, the ice blocks would be covered in wood shaving taken from the town sawmill.
So at around 4pm you would hear these enterprising older boys yelling “airbatu”, selling their ice block to villagers. Normally a block of ice the size of your palm is ten cent.

we shall continue another day..

No comments: