Miss Aida
I remember how long the days seemed to stretch when I was a kid. Long days which seemed to test my patience as I fasted those early years. How I would constantly watch the clock's hands and eagerly turn on the television to listen to the muezzin's call, symbolizing the end of the fast.

Here in Australia, the days stretch even longer, but my patience has grown throughout the years. I barely feel the need for food, can unblinkingly watch people eat the most tempting of foods in front of me without the slightest twinge of temptation, and still have the energy to do most things.

It's interesting fasting in an environment where mealtimes are set, and Muslims are a minority. In this college community, where there is a grand total of 3 Muslims out of the 300 plus individuals we have here, I am very much in the minority. My friends are very interested in what we do at the moment, a concept so alien to them. Ramadhan; the month of fasting.

The kitchen lady calls it our 'famine'. My friends have started referring to times in relation to when I can or cannot eat. Sometimes they forget and are mortified, but I assure them that I don't begrudge them at all. After all, it is new and strange to them. I enjoy explaining to people about the experiences I go through as a Muslim. Many of my friends are now aware of Ramadhan, and are all the more interested in listening to my accounts of it.

I had no idea the extent of college awareness was until I sat down for dinner the other night. I had 5 minutes till I could break fast and I had my food in front of me, prepared for the breaking of fast. The sun was still out, although it was sinking fast. On the way from the kitchen to the dining hall, no less than three people commented on my food. I was amazed when one of them reminded me I had 5 minutes to go. It's quite amusing, in a way, to think that I am being supported by the many Ormondions who are aware of it. As a matter of fact, Charlie even threatened to come and police my eating. The concern and support is overwhelming.

Despite the support, it's strange fasting in this environment though. I wake up to eat Sahur alone in my room. I roll over as my alarm rings, groggily munch through a couple of pieces of bread, and drink a glass of water before rolling back to sleep. A far cry from the days we would eat as a family back home, and my sister and I would continue eating up to the very second we could.

And dinner. I usually have to have late dinners now, while my friends are almost finished with their meals. I have taken to going to dinner with everyone else, purely for the company, until fast breaks. It is different from the almost festive atmosphere of fast breaking back home, where I would follow my parents to the Ramadhan bazaar and sample to my heart's content from the tempting array of food the bazaar had to offer.

It is also so much different fasting in an environment where individuals aren't exposed to the culture of fasting. My friends have adapted fast, learning to make plans after fast breaking and finally learning that I am not offended when they forget I am fasting. Ramadhan here is strange and new and yet, just as easy as any other Ramadhan I have gone through.

Perhaps the support I have received has made it easier, despite my friends having never experienced fasting month before. And perhaps, it's just God's way of making things easier for me. Perhaps it's because Ramadhan itself is a holy month. In any case, I feel physically and mentally prepared for the rest of the month.
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