However, I cherish the personal & human aspects the most regarding any matter.It’s how something gains its value in my scale of special & priceless treasures.My earliest Ramadan memories are always connected to that enormous alarm clock with two huge bells at each side which Dad used to always set at 3:00 am, not a minute further, even if the fajr prayer time isn’t the same during the month (it moves 5 mins ahead every few days). This alarm clock was so eager to wake us up that it felt like it rang loudly & harshly as if its existence depended on it! Our neighbors never needed to set their alarms, not even once during the month. Once awake, I would race with my sisters to the kitchen to find Mum either heating the remaining food from iftar or preparing something that always smelled so delicious. We gathered in the living room eating, drinking & listening 2 Dad’s stories that varied from religious ones about prophets mentioned in the Quraan to his own adventures as a kid in the village & how hard the conditions of life were, yet how happily they lived.
I remember how proud we used to be because of fasting & how we used to rub it in the non fasting kids’ noses. We repeatedly sang: “ya fater ya ham ya bezze2 l dam dammak dam 5anzir m3ala2 bl janzir wl janzir 7ami m3ala2 bl srami” to make them furious, kids still sing that song now & it never fails to make me smile. I remember the days when for some reason we couldn’t fast, mama used to force us to have breakfast instead of the souhour we didn’t have, suggesting we should fast till noon (lunch time) promising to sew half days together to make complete ones! She also granted us the choice of the thread color she would use. Red! I always went for red.
Before iftar time, we would line up at the balcony waiting for the cannon’s shot. The explosion’s sound echoed so close that it shook the windows everyday.
After the iftar, the whole family & relatives or neighbors would all pile up in the living room around the TV to watch the “fawazir” starring either “sherihan” or “Nelly” the only right Egyptian actresses for these kind of shows. In fact, we had no other option because no one had cable at the time & it didn’t even seem like it’s a need or that there’s something missing either.
The last days of Ramadan were always the best because it is when “maamoul” was made. Although it was very messy, spreading sugar powder over the home baked sweets was something to die for! And once we finished helping with the wrapping, kids were allowed to shovel many spoonful of the remaining sugar absorbed & mixed with the most powerful taste of butter(samneh hamwi) even if it made us extremely hyper. This hyper activity would suddenly disappear at the arrival of “wada3”. This group of people wearing white, reciting some traditional lines announcing the end of Ramadan, scared us to death. The drums that accompanied the recital, made our heart beats really audible that they pounded harmoniously with the drums. To overcome this fear, our parents gave us money to give to them. Contrary to what I thought was the price of their silence, it was yet another motive for them to push the tempo even higher.
I miss the Ramadan that I have just described. Dad doesn’t have “souhour” with us anymore because he simply can’t fast anymore. No one owns alarm clocks either, everyone uses the alarms in the mobile phones. No one waits for the cannon’s shot because it’s not used anymore. We don’t watch “fawazir” because they are replaced by millions & millions of shows that u just don’t have the appetite for. We don’t make “maamoul” we buy it & instead of waiting for them to be ready from the oven, we get a number & stand in long long lines to get them in boxes. We don’t get scared from wada3 ppl anymore & they don’t wear white or sing beautifully either. I wonder if changes affect the way we love things. If it’s the rule, it doesn’t really apply to Ramadan. It will always be a great spiritual stop every year, a month I look forward to.