I moved from India to the USA two months back, and my life has completely changed, as expected. Before Ramadan started, because of the very long days and the fact that I was the primary caretaker of my 1 year old (like most mothers are), I worried if I would be able to fast. With God’s grace, I have been able to till now. All the Ramadans that I remember from my past are when I had busy schedules outside my home. Working full time for the last 9 years and before that of course bring in college, during exams, through school etc. After my marriage, my Ramadans also included organising Iftaar parties. I have always been kind of against the whole charade. Against having to cook SO much and then some more for an iftaar party, when all I wanted to do was have a restful weekend.
This year, I have just that. I haven’t started work yet. So this is my first Ramadan in my memory where I don’t have to be some place, everyday, facing the real world. This is also my first Ramadan being the primary care taker of my child. Last year, i was a new mother, and had all the help in the world.
I mentioned in an article I wrote 2 years back how challenging I found iftaar meal preparations, and how I was trying my best to find spirituality in it. This year, since I am in an alien country with no real family around, for once I do not have to organise Iftaar parties. Now, most people ask me if I am lonely or bored because of a lack of “friends”. They say, all you need to do now is get yourself some friends and you will be set. I just do not understand this. You can call me anti-social all you like. But no, I sincerely do not want to start preparing extensive meals, and having people over, while also taking care of my baby and praying and of course refraining from food and drink.
This Ramadan, I have had very minimal expectations for myself. Pray 5 times a day on time. Fast on all days allowed. Eat healthy home-cooked food. Take care of my baby. Rest.
However, I discovered I did have a distant relative who lives nearby and I was obliged to visit them. This lead me to an iftaar party, which I attended. My healthy food habits went down the drain, and after all the travel, dressing up and socializing, I was too exhausted for Isha. Forget Taraweeh.
Are we expected to be this social? Do we really need to meet people and have people over and be exhausted, in this holy month? I find it difficult. I would love to meet like-minded people and have stimulating conversations with them, but mostly my social interactions involve me having to bite down on my opinions and acting like someone I am totally not. I have mentioned in my previous post that I usually broke my fast alone, because people just wouldn’t let me drink enough water, or pray soon after Iftaar or in general just allow me to observe Ramadan the way I want to. I was fed up of having to answer way too many questions.
I have been here for only 2 months, but as of now I am enjoying the complete lack of societal expectations. This will probably not be for long. At some point I will likely start to crave friends and social gatherings. But this Ramadan I would say has been the best yet. Because my husband and I have iftaar together every day, and because I am not working and he is working from home, neither of us have to leave the house for long hours. We have stuck to a very clean almost vegetarian diet, without being answerable to anyone. We stay awake till Fajr, praying, playing with my baby and sleep in till a little before Asr. All in all, this is my first Ramadan completely on my own terms (or almost completely, considering the fact that I am my baby’s slave!). It, of course, helps having a husband who is working from home.
For now, I am not planning to get myself into any social situations, where I am expected to be someone I am not, or speak about things that do not interest me. And I am even losing weight. That’s really a first for a Ramadan!