It’s 4:45 AM.
Sitting on the toilet, checking the time.
4 minutes remaining to the azan. Plenty of time to brush my teeth and drink the last glass of water for the day. I have it ready by the sink.
I hear the Imam calling to the first prayer. “He’s too early!”
Nothing there to do, but start the fast on this first day of my second Ramadan.
Second Ramadan also in Saudi Arabia. Second since the pandemic started. Because of that I have no authentic feeling when Muslims gather for breaking the fast each day at sundown. I must admit I would want to experience the visits and the sense of community.
But here we are alone with Tamer. Having the last meal before dawn together. Fasting together. Sitting down for iftar together after sunset. We enjoy our little bubble too.
And so we made it through this year’s first day of Ramadan as well. Alhamdulillah. We had dates and water to break our fast. We continued our evening with some bakhour (incense) and mint tea. Later I made a vegetable risotto and we had a midnight walk around our neighborhood. We did not of course forget about our street cats.
I will try my best to write down something here each day for the following month. Inshallah.
We’re in the car running some errands. The AC is on full blast.
No sign of a headache. I’m doing well.
We had plenty of watermelon last night. Avoiding stress and rest help of course.
Less than 2 hours remaining till break-fast. Soon I will be going outside to feed my street cats and fill their water on 3 different corners of our mosque across the street.
All is well. Alhamdulillah.
We stayed up all night, so we only fell asleep around six in the morning. I woke up around noon and felt I had enough energy to plan and create more of my content both on instagram and here on the blog. The dishes in the kitchen are washed every day immediately after the suhoor (morning meal before dawn), clothes washing can wait. The apartment has been clean and tidy since Monday, and we try our best to maintain it so we have less to worry during the day.
Cats fed. Daily fasting finished. At sunset we ate dates and some canteloupe this time. In the evening we are going on a date to the park! Since we have visited it several times before, we know that we can look forward to Sudanese zalabya and milk tea prepared by an elderly couple from Sudan.
Knowing the park well, I come prepared for its permanent residents — the cats. I took my cat bag with me and filled it with water and food.
Came home, stuffed with zalabya. In 4 hours we will only have a small bowl of oatmeal with banana and yogurt/milk for suhoor.
Because I stayed up most of the night and in the morning I went to visit my street cats again, I obviously needed a lot of sleep. This is not going good. I have to fix my sleep pattern.
Tamer would like to prepare one Turkish specialty. We need to go to the store. We had to stop by at 3 different supermarkets for all the ingredients. No matter, this is really going to be something special. But since we came back home very late, it will be for tomorrow, tonight’s snack will only be sandwiches and then again some fruits before dawn.
I don’t feel like sleeping, so I go downstairs to check on my cat mafia again. I stop by three corners of the mosque, filling the containers with cold water.
Tamer is preparing his Turkish specialty in the kitchen. I am filling in these chronicles. Later, like on previous days, we will probably practice some Arabic (me) and Spanish (him) on Duolingo app. We’re doing very well!
I was dreaming all night that it arrived. Apparently it was on my mind a lot lately, sneaking into my subconscious. When I got up and went to the bathroom first, I realized it wasn’t just a dream.
Next stop: the kitchen. Glass of water. Even though the sun’s still out. We got up around noon again.
“Tamer, I got my period!”
That doesn’t mean I would be stuffing my face with everything I missed in the past few days of fasting. It also doesn’t mean I would be hiding while drinking or eating. I asked him a few times if he was bothered if I had a snack in the living room … Why am I even mentioning this?
Because, unfortunately, periods remain a taboo topic in many households, depends on the culture. But for example, not eating in front of someone who is fasting can be out of courtesy, not by default … But to actually hide the fact that I don’t fast for a few days during Ramadan because I’m menstruating? Never.
I chose a partner with whom I can talk about literally anything. I wish hiding and shame would no longer exist when it comes to something as natural as periods, yet it does happen … You can’t force anyone to change , but you can raise awareness and lead by example.
Today is the 4th, probably the last, day of my absence from fasting. So I will “give back” the four days later. Maybe in the fall or winter when the days will be shorter.
These days Tamer is the head chef in our kitchen. Today he made lentil soup for iftar, using a Turkish recipe (Mercimek çorbası).
It was delicious! 👌 I never cared for lentil before, but I do believe it will be included on our regular menu from now on. I remember one boring tasteless lentil soup from kindergarten. And I recall it from some old bedtime stories, where only the poor would eat lentils. What a ridiculous thing to keep in one’s brain! How silly, isn’t it?
Fasting itself is not difficult at all. I know you may not believe it. There are still quite a few of you who probably think, “This one really lost her marbles.” 😆
So allow me to get real about my Ramadan experience. The biggest challenge I’m facing is definitely my sleep pattern. Otherwise, I’m really happy to enjoy morning time, whereas I always sleep in otherwise. I trully want to preserve this newly adopted habit of my early “cat” outings even after this month of Ramadan is over. But in truth I don’t really feel rested. Probably because I take the time to rest during the day, hence I cannot shut my eyes at night. I realize I could be doing better. Ramadan is a month of opportunities for improvement, personal growth. Today is the 21st day of fasting, so there is only a third left until the end! How quickly it passed.
And there are still so many things I could tell you. Time and again, you surprise me with questions and comments in messages, although I often anticipate some of them. I always try to avoid the flood of unnecessary information, and on that account there is room left for your curiosity!