Sensations in my body right now

Today’s writing prompt prompted me to write, only because my body has run such a gamut of sensations all evening.

And anyone who knows me knows how descriptive I can get.

It started with a heavy feeling in my head, (which is a natural consequence of fasting) around 2 hours before the Maghrib call for prayer, the time Amu and I wait for in anticpation and spend a little bit of time preparing for.

It has been four days since Zahooran’s untoward departure, and after ignoring it all this time I vowed last night to do some housework today. Even though I knew it would make me expend lots of energy and make me very thirsty indeed. But I ignored the hunger cramps and stopped myself from dreaming of a cold glass of water as I vacuumed and washed and mopped, sweaty and dehydrated. I fought the lethargy I knew would creep in and take hold of me if I stopped working…..it’s so easy to curl up with a book when you’re low on energy, then doze off….

A shower set me right, refreshing me from the outside, and a little snuggle in Huz’s arms soothed my head, as it always does.

I wore a bright pink shirt (the color is such a pick-me-up) with my baggy brown fisherman’s trousers from Bangkok, and I marched into the kitchen to chop pears, mangoes, bananas and grapes and apples for a delicious fruit salad, whipped up a batter of gram flour and spices for aaloo pakoras (potato fritters) and made huge glasses of Rooh Afza with lemon. The perfect iftaar in Ramadan.

We prayed, then took a little pinch of salt to break our fast and then….it was time to eat and drink.

I can’t describe the euphoria I feel as I take that first sip of cool, sweet-sour sherbet, the first bite of ketchup-dipped pakora, perfectly crisp on the outside…..soft potato inside. We’re silent as we slowly but inexorably munch our way through a whole plate of these, sipping our drink, feeling the food in our tummies after 14 and a half hours of nothing, letting the endorphins kick in.

The fruit salad tastes fresh and varied in its multiple sweetnesses, so much healthier than the pakoras, but hey, we deserve a bit of decadence too. I focus on how good it all tastes, and feel a bit numb and brain-dead, which is a signal from my brain to pour myself a mug of hot, strong, sweet tea, that delivers a kick like nothing else can. And I feel my body flooding with joy…

Tea. The one thing I crave in the evening. Gets me out of a stupor in a jiffy.

It’s strange that I hate fasting, yet I love how great it feels when I stop. There is no other way of experiencing this. You can only feel it when you have purposely deprived yourself. I’m not a religious person, and I don’t feel holy or spiritual, but I fast because it is a tradition. I fast because I have been culturally conditioned to do so.

And I sure as hell feel good when I stop.

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21 thoughts on “Sensations in my body right now

  1. photokunstler August 4, 2011 / 8:23 pm

    Tell us about Rooh Afza!

    And stay very, very well hydrated during the time that you can partake. Water is hydrating, and anything but water is a diuretic so stock up. That is the best advice I have for you – one of the main causes of headaches and that heavy feeling is dehydration, so do be easy with yourself!

    We love pakoras! You’ve made me hungry.

    Ramadan Mubarak.

    • Munira August 4, 2011 / 8:49 pm

      Hmm, hard to describe Rooh afza! It is probably the most Pakistani drink after Pakola ice cream soda, which is bright green where Rooh afza is a distinctive red.
      Ramadan and Rooh afza go together like nothing else. For more on the subject, you must read this Patti πŸ™‚ http://pakistaniat.com/2008/09/30/rooh-afza-milk-red-bull-pakistan/

      Thank you for the thoughtful advice! I have only had one glass of water so far, I know, very bad! And of course, you’re so right about the heavy head being due to dehydration. Oh, it takes so long to get used to it, to strike the right balance in this month.
      Such a challenge πŸ™‚
      Will go get me another glass of water as I chop some more fruit for sehri!

      • photokunstler August 5, 2011 / 12:07 am

        It actually sounds magical!! And yummy.

        We have a phenomenal drink in Japan that is the most wonderful shade of deep magenta, but it is from a herb, a leaf, and it is delicious!

        Yeah, in my business we get on everyone for hydration levels! There’s a great book by a Persian physician who was a political prisoner and they let him live if only he’d treat the other prisoners – so he did. And the only “medicine” he had was water! He cured EVERYTHING! “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. Cool book!

    • Munira August 5, 2011 / 12:48 am

      It IS magical alright! Would you believe they pour it on some faloodas too?
      And I’d love to try some of that Japanese-y herb drink (anything magenta is awesome by me)
      I have an aunt who swears by water too…..fervently believes it to be the ultimate cure-all. She and Dr Batmanghelidj = kindred spirits!
      And I have a friend who believes the same of cucumbers.
      Btw, I was up for my pre-dawn meal just now (after maybe two hours of sleep. Ramadan is also a quest for snatching a decent number of hours for sleep)
      The sky is lightening outside the window and I’m contemplating the day that stretches ahead of me….
      Wish me luck!

  2. Kathryn McCullough August 4, 2011 / 8:50 pm

    How fascinating, Munira! I can’t image a fast that also precludes drinking. I take several medications that make me almost peptetually thirsty, so this would be difficult for me. It’s no wonder you feel light headed.

    I would love to know more about Ramadan. I must admit being pretty ignorant.

    Great post, my friend!

    Kathy

    • Munira August 4, 2011 / 9:19 pm

      No food, no water, no sex! And no smoking either πŸ™‚
      Fasting is only obligatory on those who are fit to do so Kathy….there are quite a few exceptions, so if you were Muslim, you’d be pretty much exempt.
      It’s rough though! And the rules are stringent. Heavy punishment in the afterlife for those who purposely break a fast for no reason…..but let’s not go there πŸ˜‰

      This was such a quick post….but thanks so much for reading Kathy! You could skim this article if you’d like to know the principles behind observing Ramadan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan

  3. sparksinshadow August 4, 2011 / 10:51 pm

    I struggle with getting enough water for my body to work properly, so I could almost feel your earlier dehydration as I read your post! I love the way you describe all the foods that broke your fast, next time how about taking some photos (after the much needed first gulps!) The fruit salad and the pakoras sound sublime!

    • Munira August 5, 2011 / 1:01 am

      Hey Re πŸ™‚ Contrary to my pre-Ramadan self, I feel like like such a morning person at this point! Have just had sehri (the pre-dawn meal) and I feel geared to face the day……so full of energy! I’d be bouncing off the walls if I wasn’t sitting with my laptop just now. Dread to think of how I’ll be feeling come afternoon.
      I DID feel a twinge of regret that I didn’t take pictures of the food on the table….but at the time I had no idea I’d be writing this post. In fact, I was struggling with a sense of guilt (mingled with relief) that I wasn’t at the communal mosque praying with a whole bunch of other people and doing iftaar there….but that’s another story that I probably can’t talk about on my blog.
      Will do pictures though, I promise πŸ™‚

  4. huge August 5, 2011 / 12:56 pm

    Tea is my favourite drink and that first sip of the day is always heaven… It’s almost worth going without for a little bit longer just so you appreciate a ‘cuppa’ that little bit more – but 14-and-a-half hours I couldn’t do! I don’t do discipline and sacrifice when it comes to food and drink… May be I should and appreciate the flavours and emotions more. Great post!

    • Munira August 5, 2011 / 1:21 pm

      I think it’d probably be a longer stretch for you in the UK. I hear the hours from dawn till dusk there are something like 17 hours! I couldn’t do it either I’m afraid. Or could I?
      I dunno man, I could really do with a mug of tea right now. Still got an hour to go….

  5. Aziza August 5, 2011 / 4:57 pm

    I love reading your blog Munira, it’s like a lovely letter from home. Thank u Rooh Afza Lady :D, for the memories of times gone by, of aalo pakoras, fruit chaat and Pakola!
    {{{HUGS}}}}

    • Munira August 5, 2011 / 9:43 pm

      I love that you love my blog AA!!! Hugs right back atcha!

  6. fatookh August 5, 2011 / 11:44 pm

    i just quoted you…:D

    • Munira August 6, 2011 / 12:35 am

      You did?! Where?! πŸ˜€

  7. Single Malt Monkey August 6, 2011 / 1:51 pm

    They must be long days for fasters here in the UK. Unfortunately, I don’t know any personally. We live smack bang in the middle of white, middle class Cameron-land. I’ve only fasted once – a sponsored fast for Oxfam when I went 24 hours on water only, if that counts. Do you consciously pace your day to try to keep energy levels even, or as the last few hours of the day approach do you have to “crawl” to the finishing line? Good luck with it, though.

    • Munira August 9, 2011 / 12:00 am

      24 hours on just water definitely counts in my books! Gosh, you musta been hungry!
      As for pacing myself, yes, I lie down and rest every now and then, then get up and do other stuff that needs getting done…and this goes on till it’s time to make something yum for iftaar, by which time one starts counting down the minutes. It’s fun, come to think of it.
      I really feel it used to be easier though. I get way more headaches nowadays which make it very hard to survive without painkillers. As I was saying to Kathy, fasting is a really masochistic endeavour, and I do think I’m killing myself sometimes πŸ˜›
      But then I say to myself I should stop being such a wuss and suck it up!

  8. Nida August 6, 2011 / 4:38 pm

    Bhai awesome description! I’m full with iftari but you make me want to have pakoras and chai, right now πŸ˜‰

    • Munira August 9, 2011 / 12:07 am

      Aloo pakoras and chai…?…..anytime!!

  9. crazygoangirl August 7, 2011 / 3:04 pm

    OMG!! You’re doing the full-on Rozas?! Hats off to you my dear M πŸ™‚

    But I do understand the satisfaction that comes with receiving something long denied πŸ™‚ and you’re right, nothing can beat that feeling πŸ˜€ Still…fasting and me…not doable. All this has for some reason reminded me of the book Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai…a must read M.

    • Munira August 9, 2011 / 12:05 am

      I’ve missed a couple along the way H…..it was getting a bit too difficult, so I took a break. It was a combination of headaches, allergies and drugs that broke my resolve, methinks.
      But I’m up for sehri as we speak, savouring my mug of tea and keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow.
      And I’ll see if I can find that book H….I know you prefer the mom over the daughter πŸ˜‰

  10. Kathy September 3, 2012 / 10:43 pm

    Thank you, Munira, for sharing your fasting story. As usual, it felt like I was right there with you–oh so hungry. I fasted for four days and four nights with local Native Americans years ago. It was SO challenging, one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. Have done it many other times as well, day time fasts such as you describe. The headaches can be awful! Did I tell you that my daughter’s boyfriend is Egyptian Muslim? He doesn’t fast or follow the religion though. I think it can be very good for us to fast. And, oh yes, to end our fasts…

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