“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog when you are just as hungry as the dog.” - Jack London
I race home like a madman. It feels like an apocalyptic nightmare of rage and frustration, as cars swerve into my lane without a second glance.
The island sun, a giant red ball, hangs low in the sky threatening to disappear at any moment.
Crazy drivers honk and glower at each other with murderous glazed looks.
I feel like a leaf in a hurricane.
A lady on her phone drives a foot or two behind me and, just as her old Hyundai is about to take off my bumper, I veer off the highway into a tiny side road.
It’s a line of frustrated horns and glares.
As I inch my way down the narrow street, the pink sky turns grey.
Dusk is upon us, and the mosques begin their evening call to prayer.
In the darkening street outside my cousin’s house, I notice a dark figure huddled over the garbage bin.
An old man rummages through the trash looking for cardboard and metal.
He’s too engrossed in his search to notice me, and I’m too late to care.
I step into the bright yellow lights. Local TV is on, and a man with a beard is instructing people how to live their lives.
The smothered table bends under the weight of the colourful food heaped upon it.
From springrolls to samboosa, thareed to salad to soup, my eye keeps jumping from dish to dish barely comprehending the splendid feast meant to feed six people.
Everyone I saw today at work was quiet, sullen and in a deathly mood.
As they started gorging, I could see life spring back into their souls. I sat down to eat and cracked a few jokes.
After the meal, we had tea, coffee and sweets.
Although everyone ate more than humanly possible, we barely made a dent in the food.
Without having to ask I knew the leftovers would be thrown out. This would go on for the next month.
Why? Because it’s better to have more than less.
Besides, it’s Ramadan: The month of giving. I remembered the old man in the dumpster outside. When I went back out for a look he was gone.
Ramadan is meant to make everyone equal. We are all equally hungry before God.
It’s meant to teach us patience. It’s meant to teach us humility: To feel closer to the poor and the less fortunate.
Ramadan is meant to be a month of reflection and prayer, where tolerance and love are the main focus.
Unfortunately, in many cases, Ramadan has become a month-long excuse to not do any work, waste food and go nightly to tents and traditional ghabgas (late night parties that were originally designed as the last meal before the sun comes up).
We end up ruder during the day, wasteful at night and less productive overall.
It’s great that most people donate to feed the hungry. It’s lovely that many flock to the mosque every night and pray for their sins.
But have we behaved in a dignified cultured manner? Have we been polite to our fellow man?
I know it’s the most fun month of the year, and I’m just as guilty as everyone else: I stay up late with my friends playing cards and our excuse is that nobody will be working tomorrow anyway.
I guess my point is yes, let’s have fun.
But in the middle of all that, let’s also try to be bearable during the day, drive like we didn’t own the road and (most importantly) not forget those who are less fortunate than us.