Remembering how I fasted some years back makes me chuckle.
I started fasting at the age of ten, and trust me, it was no easy challenge at that age. It was especially due to the fact that I was in a strict boarding school at the time that had so many exhausting rules, and their meals were terrible. Plus, they made us partake in manual labor such as cutting the weeds with cutlasses and picking rubbish round the very huge school, despite the fact some of us were fasting. They did that because they couldn’t discern those who were being true that they were fasting from those who weren’t. It was pretty tough. To top it off, I always felt that fasting was some sort of ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment. I thought it was unfair that my Christian friends could eat and the Muslims couldn’t, and always looked for ways to nullify my fast. *sigh* silly child..
I remember at that age how, when noone was in sight, I would hide inside my locker and drink Sprite. It was the perfect drink at the time, reasons being that: 1) It was colorless, so noone was able to tell if I just had a drink and 2) It provided me with enough sugar rush to keep me going for the rest of the day. This didn’t start until after the first ten days of Ramadan, during which I fasted properly.
It was also believed in that school(God knows why!), that crying nullifies fasting. I suddenly had every reason to cry during that period. I would make up the greatest lies that ever existed about ailments I never even had. And to think they believed me – but only for a while. When my seniors started to note something fishy about my crying, I resorted to taking soft-drinks in my locker instead. I think there was a time I even forced myself to puke by sticking a finger down my throat. I was so desperate NOT to fast. Lol!
Fast forward five years after that year, I became better at fasting by tolerating the hunger pangs and overcoming the food-temptation. Although they were sometimes when I would pop food in my mouth and just when I was about to swallow, I would remember I was fasting and immediately spit it out and go rinse my mouth. They were also some days when, if I couldn’t stand the hunger-pangs, I would sleep till it was time to break my fast. Atleast that was wayyy better than pretending to fast. I was no longer that ten year old anymore 🙂
Now 11 years after the year I was ten, I understand why I need to fast. Now it’s not just something I am doing because the period is here, because I am obligated to, or because every other Muslim is doing it. Now I realize It is actually for my own good. I recognize the spiritual benefits and the health benefits. Now I recognize the numerous blessings that come with it. Now, It’s no longer something I dread but something I embrace. Years of experience taught me that, I guess.
I am grateful I started fasting at such a tender age. In a way it has honed my fasting ability over the years, even though every year brings a new experience all together. Thank God for small beginnings 🙂