By Khaliqur Rahman
By Khaliqur Rahman
Morocco World News
Raipur, India, July 25, 2012
I was Cricket mad. I used to go to college three miles away from home on my bicycle twice the same day: once for classes in the morning and again for Cricket nets. The year the month of Ramadan coincided with the beginning of the Cricket season, I thought fasting in Ramadan and playing Cricket for me weren’t mutually exclusive. I decided I’d go to college for classes, then have net practice and also break my secret fast with the sound of the siren. I didn’t need to come home for lunch.
So, I planned to spend the time in the library after the classes until it was time for nets. For this, I needed to carry my cricketing out-fit and boots in a small bag and a mini canister of two high protein threptin biscuits in the pocket for breaking my fast when it was time. At the end of the day I felt tired. I wouldn’t go for tarawih – the Ramadan special and extra 20 units – and my father wouldn’t like it. I felt sorry for missing the prayers but a sense of triumph did fill me with the satisfaction of keeping my commitment to cricket and Ramadan, at least of fasting, intact.
In 1975, the Arts Faculties in Government Science College in Raipur was dismantled. In keeping with the ruthlessness of emergency, we were tossed like dry leaves. I was transferred to the God forsaken and dacoit infested Sheopur Kalan. There were no hotels, no restaurants to live and eat. I somehow managed to extend my stay in the Government Rest House for 12 days. Then I got a depleted apology of three ‘somewhere to live’ rooms. No bathrooms, no kitchen, but a scavenger dependent lavatory that relied fully on the stray pigs.
I bought a charpoy and two plastic buckets with plastic mugs and moved in. I succeeded in getting the Khansama of the Rest House agree to giving me two meals against day-to-day payment.
A day or two later, I was in the bank. A man came up to me and said, “Our Ramadan has already started. Yours will start tomorrow or the day after. Don’t worry, I’ll send you the Sehri.” He said this all in one breath and moved on. Till then I hadn’t thought of the Ramadan. I hadn’t any idea of this God-send benefactor of mine either. If the other side is so much more-than-ready, I should reciprocate, come what may, my conscience prompted, giving me a shower of shame and then soaking me with courage to say ‘yes’ to fasting.
Another God-send was Badri, a Class X student, who offered to do everything for me against some ‘help’ in English.
There was absolutely no avenue left for an escape and I was well and truly trapped into the web of Goodness and piety.
At 3:00 in the morning, Badri would wake me up after he’d brought two buckets of fresh water from the public tap. At 4:00 I’d settle for Sehri after bath and ablution. Badri would make tea for two and we’d share the Sehri from the Bohra gentleman whose name I still didn’t know. Every evening, Badri would collect the tiffin box from his house that would contain four parathas and some vegetables to eat.
Morning prayers at home and work in the college would be at 1:30. Having earned daily bread, I’d trudge my way back straight into the mosque, offer Zuhr and recite the Quran until it was time for ‘Asr. Between ‘Asr and Maghrib, I would either recite the Quran or gaze into nothingness and meditate. I would then join the common Iftar in the mosque and after Maghrib have tea with Imam Sa’b and others at the invitation of Imam Sa’b. This Imam Sa’b was, I don’t know why, very kind to me.
I marveled at the God-send invites for dinner from different persons every other day. Though I was without home and hearth, I still got the best of food. Thus, God above saw to it that down below I fasted, then was fed, for one full month.
After Tarawih, some of us would sit with Imam Sa’b for tea and the lovable small sessions, filled with our questions and his learned and loving answers. I remember, during one such sitting, it started to rain. At about 11:30, when it was still raining, Badri, with umbrella and torch, walked straight to where we were sitting. Everyone looked angrily at his shoes. Preempting objections, Imam Sa’b patted him at the back and looking at the people said, “In love, nothing is wrong!”
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