Ramadan Means … by Kasim Ali

Ramadan means my mother waking me and my siblings up, going downstairs, drinking a glass of water, washing her face, and then walking back upstairs to wake us up again because we all fell back asleep.

It means being the one to stay up from iftaar to sehri when Ramadan took place in the summer, letting everyone else sleep, watching TV shows on my laptop until it was time to wake everyone up. 

It means standing in the kitchen with my mother, making pakoreh and samoseh and kebabs, wrapping them all up in individual packages of foil, placing them into bags with cartons of juice and handing them out to our neighbours.

It means praying more than I have at any other time of the year and feeling shameful about all the other times I miss prayer.

It means sitting at my grandmother’s house, the rush of people, helping to set the plates and organising the children, sitting, waiting for the minute to break so we can all eat.

It means pushing my mother out of the kitchen once all the food is prepared and set so she can break open her fast at the same time as everyone else.

It means getting into a fight with my brother because he ate the last chocolate that I was saving for myself, or my sister because I ate the last chocolate she was saving for herself.

It means sitting around with everyone, discussing what day Eid is going to fall on, watching the TV, making phone calls to our local mosque, excitedly discussing whether it’ll be a full month this year. 

It means standing in a long line of people to order takeaway food, a handful of times we are allowed to, ordering manically at the counter, grabbing the bags and running home, only to find that the time for eating has long passed and the fries are wet with warmth when we open the boxes.

It means swaying alongside other men while we all pray tarawih, sometimes running away after only reading eight and not the full twenty, hanging around outside the mosque until our fathers and uncles are done too.

It means not being able to sleep the night before Eid, because I am so used to staying awake until sehri, and then being irritated the morning of Eid day because I am so tired but not for too long, because the day is filled with such joy. 

Ramadan means family, of the rituals we all have, the foods we eat, the conversations we have. It means to be united, brought together. It means HOME

Kasim Ali works at Penguin Random House, and has previously been shortlisted for Hachette’s Mo Siewcherran Prize and longlisted for the 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, and has contributed to The Good Journal. He comes from Birmingham and lives in London. His debut novel Good Intentions published March 2022.

Good Intentions published March 2022, 4th Estate

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