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Originally published on the Art Dubai blog as part of ‘Posting Ramadan.’ 

My sister’s friend sent this picture to her and she sent it on to me early on this Ramadan.

My immediate thought was: ‘Where do I get this T-Shirt??! I NEED this T-Shirt.’ Because, for anyone fasting in a non-Muslim environment, it could be the singularly most useful thing to own during the month. Because the single most asked question, by those unfamiliar with the rules and regulations of Ramadan, is the double-negative laden, ‘But, you CAN drink, can’t you?’

You take a calm breath, pause, then patiently inform them that, ‘No, I can’t drink anything.

To which they retort, ‘Not even water?’

‘No. Not even water.’

The questioner’s face turns from politically correct empathy for your religious conviction, to mild politically incorrect shock-horror. Because it is the non-water-drinking clause that transforms Ramadan from a daily experience of voluntary hunger to something much more estranging and, even, extremish.

I can’t speak for others – privation is by definition a deeply private affair – but for me the prohibition on liquids means no post-wake-up caffeine ritual which means I’m not sure when it is I am actually waking up. In fact, maybe I never actually wake up, which explains the sonambulistic haze I’m in, especially surrounded by a non-Ramadan world who continues to Starbucks, Costa and KFC so thoughtlessly and inconsiderately around me.

At least they could draw a huge black curtain around themselves, Dubai-style.

Thanks?

The other thing about not drinking anything is the effect it has on speaking. Saliva suddenly becomes a finite resource. Words, which at other times come forth untaxed, infinitely plentiful, are now the opposite. The more you ask me if I can drink during Ramadan, the more I have to reply, ‘no, not even water,’ which means I get thirstier, etc etc.

See the passive cruelty in your innocent query?

That is why the T-Shirt proposed – or equivalent badge or ambient sign or telepathic mind message service (TMMS) – would be my Ramadan accessory du jour.

 

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