I started observing Ramadhan when I was 9 years old. I was in Primary 3 walking to my school and back on a round journey of about 5 kilometers every day. I have to brave the hot sun and went flat after reaching home.
Lapar lah mak. Boleh minum air tak.
Mak just smiled and asked me to persevere.
Ada orang langsung tak de apa nak makan walaupun dah tiba waktu berbuka tau. Mak said.
I started to fast then because I hated the ritual of being left aside during the berbuka. I always see that during the berbuka everybody who fast was like celebrating a victory hence the feast with delicacies that I seldom see on normal days. The sirap selaseh was simply thirst quenching. The joy was unfounded when I completed my first day of fasting. I was like ular sawa the first few days after treating myself with everything on the breakfast spread prepared by mak. I was part of the victors. My younger brother and sister were envious of me as I have broken up from their party sitting on the sideline during breakfast.
When I went to boarding school and then to college, I missed mak’s cooking during Ramadhan. I can’t be choosy anyhow. I still hear mak’s utterance of people who do not have anything to eat even at berbuka puasa. I was so insaf thinking of that.
As I grow older and having spent less time during Ramadhan with my parents, I have learn to become moderate in choosing my spread for berbuka puasa. I spent most of the times berbuka in the office canteen with office colleagues. Sahur was only done with a glass of water juices. I don’t cook as I hate washing the utensils. But if I rajin, instant noodles is blissful.
During my many overseas assignments I was so lucky that I had my Ramadhan during winter seasons. Shorter fasting period but the walk to delicatessen to breakfast was often appalling because of the wind chill. The one I had in Iran was really the worst. Breaking fast in a foreign country, lonesome was really an experience to cherish. The best was during my assignment in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Breaking fast was always either at the Country Manager’s residence or invitation from ambassadors or companies from Malaysia that have offices in that country. In Tanzania, my staff that brought their spouses along would be places I will tumpang manja. I was so lucky that I always managed to reschedule meetings or assignments in the US outside Ramadhan.
Still fresh in my mind was one meeting in Malaysia where I am the sole Muslim who attended it. There were food during breaks and I was like tergoda with the sumptuous spread during breaks and lunches. Luckily it was a one day meeting. I have no complaint whatsoever anyhow. It is me against myself.
Till this day, still I found Ramadhan a very challenging period. But what mak have told me have always gives me the strength to face it. I always remembered the Ramadhans that I have gone through. I have always brought mak’s wisdom to preach to down to my children. I pray for the unfortunate some food for them to chew. I beg mercy from the almighty.
Salam and cheers..