Ramazan: “I can’t eat, so neither should you!”
I probably committed an unpardonable sin just by typing the traditional, South-Asian word “ramazan”, as opposed to the Arabic word “ramadan”. Since the wave of Arabization in the late 70’s, many of our Urdu terms have been replaced with their Arabic equivalents because Arabs are incidentally “more-Muslim-than-thou”.
Ramazan is that joyous time of the year where Muslims do me the colossal favor of not eating and drinking from dawn till dusk. Yes, it’s a personal favor to the non-Muslims, judging from what they expect of us during this month. I cannot eat a sandwich in a public place without inviting an angry stare. Some are even kind enough to approach me and remind me of how insensitive it is to eat food in front of the “rozaydars” (fasting Muslims).
Considering the hypoglycemic state that rozaydars are generally in, and understanding that hypoglycemia provokes irritability and aggression, I avoid engaging such a person in a rational debate. I put the sandwich down, and slowly move away from it till the expression on my fellow citizen’s face lightens.
What I’d really like, though, is to confront them about their own insensitivity in believing that I have to relinquish my rights because they decided that God wants them to be hungry and thirsty. I don’t tell them what they can and cannot eat, and I would appreciate some reciprocity. But no. I’m the insensitive ass who is ruining a devout man’s roza if I start eating, talk about eating, or even think about eating.
It’s not fair for non-Muslims to get caught in the crossfire of your religious beliefs. I go to a movie theater and the concession stand is closed because it’s Ramazan. I bought some burgers at McDonalds, but as a I sat down to eat with my little cousins, I was asked by an employee to leave. “We’re serving takeaway meals only, sir!”. Most food joints remain closed throughout the day, opening up only after sunset, when they’re packed with hungry Muslims over-compensating for their roughly 12 hours of abstinence from food and drink.
Tempers are high, and productivity is low throughout the holy month. Working hours are usually shorter. And even during those working hours, efficiency is much lower. Back in college, the students would be even less interested than usual in the daily lectures, citing “roza” as a cause of their stupor. They are fully aware of the hazards. But when I state the obvious about Ramazan causing people to be less productive, I usually cause quite an uproar. Such dishonesty is appalling.
In a city full of irritable people, angry motorists, and ravenous, unruly crowds in restaurants at the time of Iftar, I’ve gathered enough food to allow me to stay inside my house for the entire month. It’s chaos out there, and I’d rather not be a part of it. Hmm…isn’t that fitting? I’ve heard “Satan remains shackled throughout the month of Ramazan”.
(Note: That last bit was a joke. Atheists don’t worship Satan, nor are they satans themselves, contrary to what many Pakistanis believe. Had to point that out.)