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YOU ARE FASTING by Auwal Anwar

[My friend @AuwalAnwar wrote his encounter with a certain 'Big Man' and I have share.)

This is strange, but it is not strange to you. You are a Muslim and we are in the month of Ramadan in which it is compulsory for all Muslims that have attained puberty to fast. Indeed there are a few exemptions that include the sick, the wayfarer and the menstruating woman, but you do not fall into any of those categories. So, you are supposed to be fasting, are you not? Well, you are fasting of course. At least, you have made the intention to fast today, before dawn. And it is already two hour past noon – less than five hours to breaking the fast. The strange thing is that your stomach feels so full. You are not hungry at all. So what is happening?
Remember that you had gone back to sleep after saying your early morning prayers and was snoring until it was time to go to work. You opened your eyes and checked the time on the wall clock, but you did not like what you saw as it was telling you that you should be in the office by now. You then told yourself, ‘I cannot go to work now; it is too early. It is fasting period. Let me catch a little more sleep.’ Conveniently, you reminded yourself that, ‘Nobody goes to work early during the fasting period. Why should I interrupt my sleep?’ You burrowed deeper into the mattress, under the blanket, and snored some more.
You finally dragged yourself out of bed and spent another half hour in the bathtub before slipping into your crispy, ironed clothes to go to work. Your air conditioned car cruised to the office from your air conditioned home and delivered you to your air conditioned office. There were loads of memos to treat, but you figured that since you were fasting, you were not supposed to have so much energy. ‘Why not just treat a few and leave the rest until tomorrow?’ You called your secretary and asked why the DSTV was not ‘working’. She explained that the imprest was exhausted and there were many other demands waiting for approval. You fished out the DSTV memo and approved immediately so that you could watch the TV in the office. Some of your friends would soon come around; it would be a shame to see the E16 disconnection message running on the screen. After all it was fasting period, how else could you and your friends while away the time?
By 1 pm, you left for the mosque and said your prayers. The junior staff were struggling to get kettles to perform ablution. There were so few in the mosque. Some of them noticed you and quickly rushed to give up the kettles they had struggled for to you so you could perform your ablution without stress. You collected from one of them and barely acknowledged it. He was a junior staff you thought, ‘May be he wanted something.’ And then you noticed their dried, scaly skins, their sunken eyes, their emaciated bodies and their weak steps. That reminded you of something. ‘Oh, they are fasting.’ And then you remembered with a shrug, ‘I am fasting too.’
You performed the ablution and they all lined up behind you to lead them in prayers. You knew you were not spiritually clean enough to lead anybody in prayers. Yet, you stepped forward and led. You thought you could do with the ‘air’ of leading prayers in Ramadan. It was a spiritual time and you were spiritual too, you liked to think. After the prayers, a young fellow stood up and offered some reminders about Ramadan being like a training school for the faithful. You barely heard him. In fact, suddenly, you remembered that a certain contractor promised to ‘see you’ in the office with a package to ‘address the challenges of Ramadan period.’ Before the sermon was over, you faked receiving a call and rushed out of the mosque to your office.
Now it is 2 pm, not yet closing time, but you are on the way to your house with your boot full of bags and cartons delivered by the contractor. You are not hungry, in fact you feel like sleeping as the cool air in the car envelopes you and massages your nerves. But the driver in the same car with you finds the air chilling and oppressive. His skin is itching as the air assaults his empty stomach as he did not have anything to eat during sahur, that is before dawn. But you hardly notice. In fact, your eyes are screaming at the destitutes that came to your window when the car stops at a police check point. You are angry that they may touch your car and smear dirt on it. The woman is pointing at her stomach and the baby she is carrying. You wonder why she is begging in the day time? ‘Is she not fasting?’
Soon, your dining table will be full of food – appetizers, main courses and desserts. When the time comes, you and your family will devour them until your stomachs are too full to allow for prayers. And tomorrow, you will not be hungry again. But you will be fasting. It is Ramadan after all.

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