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Fasting, Feasting, and The White Girl Among Them

September 24, 2007

Ramadan (Ramzan) started on Sept 13th. Before it started there was a lot of build up for me. I know it wasn’t just for my benefit, but as a way of preparing themselves, but some of it was for me. My boyfriends cousin (also his roommate) mentioned it to me about a week before hand.

“You know Ramzan is starting next week, right?” he said, giving me a worried look that said what he really meant:
“Are you going to be OK with this?”

I smiled back, and said that I knew. I tried my best to look like I was totally cool with it. The truth is so much more complicated. I actually have no problem at all with the not drinking part. To be honest, I’m not much of a drinker, and it’s a lot easier to get out of drinking when you can just say “If he isn’t drinking, then neither am I.” A week and a half in, and I’m missing kissing way more than anything else. But yesterday was the first time I spent the day with him since it started, so I was able to really see it, and really experience it.

The boyfriend (bf) slept until almost two, and for the first time since we started dating, I didn’t even try to wake him up. He can’t eat, so it’s much better for him to just sleep as long as possible. I got up, cleaned the kitchen, took out the trash, went to the grocery store. I wanted to cook some food for him to have during the week, because he is usually too tired and weak to want to cook at night, obviously. But I found while doing all of that, that I felt guilty for cooking myself something, so I kept saying to myself that I would eat later.

Later, after I do this or that. Later. I’ll call M, my friend who isn’t fasting, and we can eat together. After he got up, I didn’t want to eat in front of him. He insisted, and I knew it was ok, but I felt guilty, so I just kept saying “Later, in a bit.” I had tea, but that was it until five o’clock.

It’s important for me to say that the guilt I was feeling was not because of religion. I felt guilty putting something in my mouth while he could see or smell it. Also, part of eating is enjoying it and eating with others, and neither one of those things was going to be possible. So it was guilt, but also, a disinterest in doing it.

I saw him pray twice; I heard him pray once. No one has ever told me that Muslims often (always?) pray aloud. He came up to me, and said very nonchalantly (of course) that he was going to pray. I was in the bathroom, and said in the most casual voice I could muster.

“OK, cool.” I shut the bathroom door two seconds after he shut the bedroom door. I was irrationally irritated that he shut the door, but I had just the door on him, right? My curiosity got the better of me, and anyway, if I was going to be irritated that he shut the door, then I had to come out of the bathroom. I opened the door, and walked to the kitchen, trying to see through the crack in the door, since he hadn’t shut it tight. I saw nothing, but I heard him.

His voice was clear, strong, but not loud- just loud enough for some sound to escape the room. I stopped dead in my tracks, because I wasn’t expecting that. It wasn’t loud enough for me to truly hear, but it was so clearly not Hindi, and the issues I have regarding the exclusive use of Arabic in Islam popped up again. I felt as if I was invading, so I walked back to the bathroom, and shut the door tight. Cleaning the sink suddenly become the most important task ever. I emerged after two or three minutes, and he was in the kitchen, starting his biriyani (Indian dish) to have more to eat during the week. I was surprised at how quickly he was done, but this only illustrates how little I know. I started making the dahl (lentil soup) that I had prepared.

M and her husband S, friends of ours, were having iftar at their house. Iftar is the first meal to break the fast. Yesterday it started at 6:53, as the immediate time of sunset is when the first food goes in the mouth. We ended up going over there around 5:30, and M showed me how to make pekorah and we fried some pre-packaged somasas. Friends of M and S’s showed up, and there were 10 there total. Seven Pakistanis, two Indians, and one white girl. That sounds like the start of a joke.

It was nice, and there was so much food, too much honestly. We ate, chatted, watched a bit of football replays, ate again, chatted more, and finally went home around 10. I was exhausted.

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