Masticating masticators, the sound of food being consumed, of spoons hitting porcelain bowls. No words spoken from any mouths, four human beings focused totally upon the act of eating, of consuming the food that has been set in front of them. Nothing uncommon, nothing unusual, except that this time it’s happening at 7.20 in the evening and none of them have eaten anything during the day.

Yes, the time has come once again. The fasting month is upon us. Ramadhan al-Mubarak.

Over the past few years, the arrival of this particular month has been accompanied by near-constant waves of nostalgia, ebbing and flowing like the tide, their intensity varying depending on the events of the day/week and whether certain triggers have been triggered (what else do triggers do, anyway, aside from getting triggered?).

I remember that when I was younger the only thing I lived for was the breaking of the fast in the evening. Sudden feelings of laziness and sluggishness, saying “ala . . . malaslah” every time I was told and/or asked to do something that I didn’t feel up to doing. There was nothing else to occupy my head: no angst, no demons, no troubles. Just the hunger and the seemingly never-ending wait for the breaking of the fast . . . or, as we call it, buka puasa (albeit pronounced more like “bukak” with a “k” rather than “buka” without one). Such a gloriously single-minded existence, I think you’ll agree. When you’re a kid, the simple act of not eating tends to occupy your head more than anything. Especially when you’re a fat, pretty useless kid like I was (and still am?).

These days couldn’t be more different. Not eating is no longer any sort of a problem, no longer something that occupies my head to the exclusion of anything else. Right now the opposite is probably truer, and I forsee that being the case for a while to come. It’s not been a good first day and unless something major happens I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the worst yet, at least on a personal level.

Everyone says this, but I miss the “good old” days. I miss the times during the fasting month when my cousins would all come down to my house and we’d have shitloads of fun together, staying up all night and sleeping nearly all day, listening to music and going on long gaming marathons, livening up the nights not with prayer, but with laughter and joy and fun. Those days are long gone, none of us are children any longer and we’ve all got our own obligations and our own priorities. We haven’t drifted apart, no, and I doubt we ever will, but things have, perhaps, changed. The passage of time leaves its mark on everything and everyone, and the relationships between the five of us (me, my brother and three of our cousins) are no exception.

Those, and many other memories, will, to me, be forever linked with this fasting month. Even as I grow older and I begin to become more and more cynical, begin to doubt more and more, I will always be reminded of happier times during this month. I just wish though, that right now those memories would actually make me happy.

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