Laura, the American who lives in Paraguay, wakes me up to tell me that it’s 4: time to eat.
For several weeks she has been going with one Alamdar, a very good photographer, Afghan.
Ramadan has recently started and Laura, for solidarity with her new love, has decided to keep him company: "I’m not Muslim, but at least this way he has someone with whom NOT to eat!"
Surprised by such a drastic decision, and fascinated by the ritual based on total self-control, I have decided to join them.
So I wake up without hesitation and silently open the closet where the evening before I had put two diet/protein bars kindly offered by my diet-obsessed friend.
We sit on the cold floor of the long, dark hall, our voices rough with sleep and eyes half closed. I chew the pasty substance that tastes like peanut butter while Laura, despite her sleepiness, manages to say silly things like: "Wouldn’t it be great to lock everyone in their rooms?" – although my own sense of humor is perverse, at this hour and in this atmosphere, this idea only creeps me out.
I know I won’t eat anything else for more than 14 hours, but I resist the chocolate cookies dipped in Nutella that my companion in adventures and new experiences is putting away.
For those who don’t know, and according to Laura, Ramadan means not eating from sunrise to sunset for 20 days. During this time you must not let anything pass your lips, in my case I’ve already cheated with chewing gum. Giving up food represents a detachment from earthly things and a total dedication to God. It’s also said that excessive hunger can cause revelatory hallucinations.
I don’t know if I’ll make it for all 20 days and, knowing me, once it gets dark I’ll be ready to eat a monkey from hunger!
But why not try this as well.
At 4:30 I can hear the prayers from the mosque like an echo. It’s strangely comforting to wake up to something different every day. We go on chatting for a little while, fantasizing about how great it would be to go around at night and visit the mosque.
I go back to bed and at 7:30 I’m on my feet, ready to not eat until the sun sets.
Now it’s 11:15 AM.
I’ll keep you posted on any hallucinations!
MomComm: It’s rumored that, during WWII, the very short rations given the students were eked out with monkeys shot by some staff members and boys (everyone male hunted in those days), though they didn’t tell the other students just what they were eating!