To Fast, Not To Furious - by Fareed Kaloo
Its been an awesome week in preparation of the beginning of Ramadhaan.
I always spend the last week before the fasting month begins doing all those things I intend to refrain from during Ramadhaan.
Nothing bad really, not like im purging on vices or anything. Nothing which could be considered hypocritical of the spiritual journey im about to embark on.
Merely an opportunity to play an extra round of golf, or go dancing and shake what my momma gave me, or have a lazy Sunday brunch that drags itself on into late afternoon.
This particular Sunday brunch was certainly spectacular.
Bobotie, pootjie with dumplings and lamb chops, mielie brood, ceasar salad straight out of my favourite couples organic garden, baked potato ... a seven course meal that will have me yearning for the next lazy Sunday lunch for a month to come!
I've spent Ramadhaan in a few countries, but must admit that as South Africans, we have our own unique take on this month.
I recall fondly growing up in what was still regarded as a township back in the early 80's without incurring visions of squatter camps and squallor, in the old town, a part of Lenz where the pioneers of the area still yarn tales of how your closest neighbour was so far away, you could only tell exactly where they lived by looking for the smoke from the winter chimney. A township so sparcely populated, it didnt have any roads or formal structure, just one massive sea of red sand, hence the nickname "The Dustbowl".
Where every Sunday Mr Naidoo's truck would chug its way toward your council home to offload your weekly delivery of coal.
Of course by the time I made my presence known, things had improved to the extent that there were tarred roads, and our immediate neighbour was a shout away.
I grew up with my Gran, who passed on earlier this year, bless her soul.
It seems like just yesterday when she'd have me help her fill platters with the most delicious savouries; potato and mince samoosa's with pistachio chutney; koeksisters dripping with syrup and coconut; chilli bites and kebabs; juicy dates and pastries filled with mince and veggies...
These I would take door-to-door to all our immediate neighbours, and the scene was always the same...
Just before sunset, all the nieghbourhood kids zig-zagging across the road doing the platter round, all racing to beat the clock and make it back to the iftaar table before the muazzin announced the end of the days fast... and the beginning of the nights feast.
Of course as adults we now know better than to look at the month simply as one for gorging on milkshakes and savouries, but through the innocence of a childs eye's, the world takes on a different meaning when Ramadhaan comes around.
It always remains my favourite month, filled with the most endearing of memories. Of a time long gone but never forgotten.
As a parent I imagine myself relaying the same tales of long ago, and how I wish I could have my daughter live through a single day of my innocent youth.
How I wish she could see what was meant by that single word "community".
To be able to spend the day in the company of friends or neighbours who we knew by first name, right down to their entire extended family.
To have comfort in the knowledge that they were safe playing kierrie or hopscotch until sunset somewhere between the 15 odd homes immediately around ours; and all it would take to get her back in under 5 minutes was the simple calling out of her name. Oh how amazing and effectual that township-telegraph was!
A time when every neighbour and every person your parents knew, took on the role of guardian, protector, and reprimander in the absence of your folks.
A time when you would get your behind spanked by your mom just for complaining about Aunty Fati next door scolding you.
A time when you could have a 7-course meal simply by popping in to your friends homes at supper time, and having a bite to eat at each ones house.
Alas, its a different time we live in now.
Though the month of Ramadhaan hasnt changed in 1400 years, what it means to each one of us and how we experience it, certainly has.
In 20 years from now, I expect our kids will be telling their kids how wonderful these times were, and how much things have changed since they were young.
I suspect they will recall our present times as the best memories they ever had, just as our parents reminded us about how great things were when they were young.
Its for this reason, and this reason alone, that I endeavour to make each day another notch on my little girls post of fond memories.
I hope she remembers the best of times, and takes with her in her treasure chest of tales only the most amazing experiences; the same she'll pass on to her kids.
In the same vein, I hope my friends and family take only the most amazing experiences from this blessed month; and when you remember me in your duas, remember me for the best of times we may have spent together.
Ramadaan Kareem to one and all, and may the Almighty in his infinite wisdom lead us once more to a place of childhood innocence and unforgettable community spirit, where friends, family and loved ones filled our homes with laughter and chatter without needing an occassion or a special month to do so.