It’s funny the little routines we get into to deal with what are very clearly challenging circumstances. We accommodate others that we know might be having a tough time just so that they have a shed of sanity to hold onto when times are especially trying.
The last month here in Senegal has been underscored by the Islamic holy time of Ramadan. From Sun up until Sun down Muslims around the world are not supposed to eat or drink. Muslims are also not supposed to swallow their saliva, so spitting out the window can get to comical proportions in a cramped 7-place traveling across country. Exceptions are made for the children, sick, pregnant, and breast-feeding. This has been a bit of stressful time for the people here in Senegal, as tempers can grow short around 6:30pm when you haven’t eaten all day.
In my household Ramadan has meant that at around 5am my family gets up and has an extra early breakfast before sunrise. The electricity even comes on especially for that hour from 5am to 6am. Not fasting myself, I’ve continued on my regular wake cycle of around 7/7:30 and eating breakfast around 9:30/10. Lunch tends to be a little later around 2:30/3 with the children making up the majority of the company and my sister of 25 years, Julde, cooking. Around 7:15pm or so the sun drops from the sky and it is time to break the fast that has weighed so heavy through the afternoon. For fast breaking we have one of my favorite dishes, mony, consisting of pounded millet, kosam (a spoiled milk yogurt sort of treat), sugar, and, if we’re lucky, some citrus juice. Normally if someone has not fasted during the day he won’t partake in the family drinking of mony. The fast breaking then pushes dinner back to a later hour of between 10 or 11pm, and we make the switch from a rice base to a lecciri base (pound corn or millet like couscous).
The other day I was working in my back yard doing some weeding around my tomato plants when I noticed the time was approaching for fast breaking. I put a shirt on and walked through my hut and toward the batiment (cement main house in the compound) to meet my 6-year old sister Yebbe coming out to get me. She took one look at me and turned back to open door, “Nee, o ara (Mom, he’s coming).” At the door my mom Jenaba met me with the usual bowl of mony but only one spoon. “Handi, be horanii. O woni fii aan tan (Today, they didn’t fast. This is for you only.)”