The Far Away Colony
Finally the sacred month of Ramadan came with the arrival of the new moon. A month the Karim family was apprehensive about. During those days of fasting, resignation, abstinence and praying, every effort to accomplish good actions and avoid bad ones helps to understand the value if this sacred month.
Every member of the Karim family was aware of the importance of this month. At three o clock in the morning or even before, when sleep occupies the being, it was time for him to wake up and take with his family the morning meal. The lights in the houses were all alight, and the members of each family gathered to start the Ramadan day.
Julie woke up at the same time Mrs Karim did, at two o'clock in the morning. She helped her in the kitchen heating the meals, making the tea, placing the cutlery and arranging the plates, glasses and spoons. Then she went to wake up the girls who joined the boys already sitting on the table, their eyes puffed up because of the sleep. They ate and drank until the day glimmer pointed out in the horizon. Then they got up and dispersed each other by their side.
Men fulfilled the mandatory prayers at the mosque while women did it at home. They pronounced the vow of wanting to fast for the Lord. They had to pass an entire day without eating, without drinking, in order to get rid of the bad habits, deprive themselves of material satisfactions, experience hunger and be thirsty like the poor do, be identified to them and put themselves in their shoes to understand misery, poverty and suffering effects. It was an entire day to call into question their conscience and ask themselves about the importance and value of materials. The faithful draw their resources from the prayer, strengthened their soul by reading the Coran. It's a month of sacrifice, devotion, abstinence, fasting and prayers that passes too fast to understand that sins fade with obstinacy and will.
The wives, mothers, daughters and sisters retreat to a calm corner to fulfill more prayers than usual. The rooms are impregnated with a strong incense smell. A strange calmness reigns in the entire house and each becomes withdrawn to pray, rest and fast. Only a few words are exchanged, as if the world turned idle.
Julie noticed that during this fasting month the former fresh and smooth faces of her little bosses were metamorphosed into a thick beard. Their faces were stressed by the lack of sleep, the fatigue and the provided efforts during the long nights of prayers. It was a respite period for her too. Not a single word out of place was addressed to her; not a single indiscreet look at her; not a single harmful gesture constrained her everyday life. They were so perfect boys as if there were not two like them all along this month of Ramadan.
A day passed at work or at home ends with the sunset and a celebration to staunch the thirst with a sweet and scented drink, to put on the tongue salty, spicy and smooth cakes that the wife, the mother, the sisters or the cook has made during all the afternoon.
Julie prepared the spices, peeled some garlic, ginger, mixed them with hot peppers and salt and mashed them. She put away the cardamom, cinnamon and clove jars, toasted some coffee in the bottom of a cast iron pot and locked the vanilla pods in the pantry. At that time, Mr. Karim indulged himself with a small amount before going to pray. And during Friday's big prayer when the faithful gathered, they listened to the good words address to all the believers.
"There's a moment in life," sermonized the imam in his speech, "when we have to stop and ask our conscience about the reality of this world down here; we have to realize how little importance is our life compared to the one that is waiting for us in the other world; it's time for us to understand that we have to make some efforts to accomplish good actions and to avoid committing sins."
After having interrupted the fast, the family members gathered for dinner, to allow them a little pause; then men went to the mosque for the evening prayer.
Julie and the other servants cleaned the house, changed the curtains, washed, polished, lustred, tidied every corner. To celebrate the end of Ramadan party, the faithful dressed themselves with nice clothes to go to the mosque. The special prayer was done after the sunrise. The Imam made his speech in front of the believers full of faith and relieved from their sins. Each of them was restless about sitting in front of a table garnished with a variety of home-made or patisserie cakes. The party was celebrated with hearty cheerfulness and great rejoicing. Family gatherings and embraces; gift distribution; food in abundance. Each made its joy explode. The day was passed in a good mood; some visited their relatives, others shared their happiness with their friends.