My earliest memories of Ramzaan are from around three years old in Bradford. Our parents would feed us, put us to bed and then go back downstairs! We didn’t really know why and opening roza didn’t really mean a lot.
One day the curiosity got the better of us and we creeped down the stairs and opened the door slightly and saw our parents eating and they had more mangoes on the table. We were disgusted! That’s why they went back down every day! There was a latch on the door from the inside, we put that on and went back to bed.
The next morning when we woke up we were terrified, no mum and dad! We ran downstairs, opened the latch and shouted we were scared why didn’t they come to bed?
“Ahem, because you put the latch on?”
Man, we loved Pakistani mangoes! They are the undisputed king of all fruit.
My next memories of Ramzaan take me to Kashmir. My mum would make the barley chapattis at night for the pre-dawn meal (around 4am today) and my grandma would take care of the yoghurt. In the morning my mum would make a few wheat chapattis for my granddad as they were softer and my grandma would break the barley roti into crumbs in a massive bowl. We would offer to help, but it was hard and it hurt your skin after a bit. My grandma had rough working hands and would tell us off and get us to do something else. Once it was all crumbled, she would add generous amounts of homemade yoghurt to it, fill a bowl each and pass it to all of us. Occasionally, one of us sprinkled it with sugar. Barley was heavy and combined with natural yoghurt they kept you full and thirst free for much of the day.
A few years later during Ramzaan I was fifteen and walking six miles a day through the hills to college. The journey on the way back in summer in 35-40 degrees meant we use to keep flasks with us full of water and ice and get a refill at the only house on the way. During Ramzaan I would walk, unable to talk as even our saliva would dry up, reach home and crash onto a bed without saying a single word or changing out of my uniform. It took me till Iftari time to come around each day and then catch up with my prayers.
A few years later back in England my mum had a full brood to cook Sehri for. She would start making roti and you could smell it upstairs and my brother would knock on our doors and wake us all up. We’d gather around a table half asleep and eat and chat, help mum tidy up and pray together before hitting the pillow again.
When I got married it felt similar, as we were a full house. My mother-in-law liked parathe (fried chapatti) and I love parathe! So, in the morning she would make us all a paratha each and we would have it with chai or salan (curry).
Since we moved into our house my husband wants makhan (butter) for Sehri. I make it fresh and it lasts a few days. We eat roti, salan and makhan. Saroash likes toast, fried egg and Nutella and Rohaan can just manage some cereal.
As the days go on and sleep catches up some of us will end up eating a few dates and a glass of milk, but whatever we eat, Ramzaan and this time of Sehri is steeped in happy memories for me.
I hope you all have a wonderful Ramzaan and all the prayers help wipe out this virus and fear.