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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Ramadan diary: Why this month matters so much to a person as irreligious as me

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Part five in our Ramadan Diary series comes to us from Vani Saraswathi, who looks forward to this time of the year not because she feels particularly spiritual, but because it gives her and her loved ones the chance to feel like a “normal” family. Here’s what the self-proclaimed “cynic by day, optimist by night. Mother, journalist, wife” has to say:

By Vani Saraswathi

I am irreligious. I can tolerate religiosity in others as long as they don’t stuff it down my throat.

I was born into a Hindu family and married a Christian. We live a happy irreverent life with our two daughters, without being defined or restricted by our religions.

Despite all that, a couple of months after Eid Al Adha (what we call Bakrid back home in India), I start the countdown for Ramadan (Ramzan for me, both the month and the Eid that brings it to an end).

Not because I fast or because I have a sudden attack of spirituality.

But, because that’s the one month in the year I get to see my husband every single day.

He works evenings, I work during the day. I leave home before he wakes up, and he returns when I am fast asleep. Evenings go by in a blur between kids’ activities, chores and work-related networking.

Even our off days do not coincide most months in a year.

‘Normal’ family

Come Ramadan, our schedules change.

I reach home early, and he takes an hour off around Iftar, and we have our rendezvous. Tea, snacks, friends on certain days.

It’s the only time in the year we feel like a “normal” family.

Kids’ schedules are easier, I work fewer hours, and we spend time together every day as a family.

When I see the religious fervour on the faces of those who observe the month, I almost understand that feeling. They are living through and relishing something very important to them.

That’s what we do too, as a family.

New beginnings

I arrived in Doha in 1999 as a new bride. It was the end of September, and within days of landing here, I started working.

It was tough.

A new city, new workplace, no friends, getting used to being married, and worst of it: not seeing my husband enough.

Then Ramadan began—first week of December if I remember right—and we got an opportunity to build our ‘home’.

I remember long walks—from Najma to Matar Qadeem, Freej Al Nasser, Corniche—with regular pit stops at the roadside eateries that were open till Suhour. I remember the Iftars snacks from Hot Bread bakery (we did kind of fast then because I didn’t cook, and there were no take aways during the day).

Bonding time

We didn’t realise then that we were setting an annual tradition of bonding as a couple, and as a family. In fact, I didn’t realise that’s what we did till Doha News asked me to write a Ramadan diary.

This is what Ramadan means to me.

It means more time at home with my kids. It means more than text-communication with my man. It means realising what’s most important to us as a family, and finding the time to invest in it.

We Eat, Love, and interpret Pray in a manner that’s comfortable to us. I am already feeling sad that we are more than half way through the month.

Ramadan Kareem.

Credit: Photo by Simply CVR

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