Last night I had a discussion with my ibu mama. Me: I want to fast. Her: Ha, ha, you want to fast! Me: Yes, I don’t know what time we can eat. Her: You can only drink (emphasis on drink) and eat between (2 vaguely familiar Muslim words for different prayer times.) Me: Okay, please say “Oma, Eat.” And I demonstrate knocking on my door. Her: Ha, ha, okay.
At dinner she tells me that she personally doesn’t fast. She
Stop – alert – the earth is shaking. This is the first time I’ve felt it during the day. It’s just a mild vibration. I’m on the 2nd floor of my house sitting in the den type room outside my bedroom. I feel these tremors at least once a week, sometimes more. They last for several minutes to a half hour or so and then I go back to sleep. Yes, the walls and floor are definitely moving.
Okay, back to the fasting. My host father does fast. My host mother told me that she has stomach problems and she must eat a little in the middle of the day. But yes, she would wake me up.
We had this discussion after I told her (in Bahasa, my host family doesn’t speak English) that I didn’t eat donuts. My family in America knows this story. 21 years ago I made a deal with God and gave up donuts in exchange for God helping my kids to not do drugs. The kids still get the choice, but the deal is that God would Help them in a special way. The deal expires when I am 80. I personally love donuts. When I was first married we would make-up after a fight by buying each other a dozen donuts. We reached a point where we could eat TWO dozen. Here in Indonesia they make things that look like donuts, have frosting on them and they call them donuts. I know the frosting probably doesn’t taste like real frosting, which helps. Anyway, I don’t eat them. I give them up as a kind of prayer thing. Also, implied in this little God bargain is the implication that I will live to be 80! And I do plan on having a big party and eating tons of donuts on Sept. 9, 2028!
So Ibu mama gets the idea that Christians also do this give up food thing occasionally for what I’m sure are strange reasons in her mind. I don’t know the word for drugs. I know the word for medicine, but that wasn’t right, so I told her alcohol, which is close enough. Donuts are a shape of cake. She knows I eat cake and bread, which is a very close relative of cake. Cake here is only slightly sweeter than bread. But now she knows no donuts.
She also knows that I drink tons of water – it keeps me from getting head aches. It’s silly. I pee tons more than any Indonesian person. She knows that limiting my water will be hard for me. And in truth I am waiting to see how that works out. Maybe for Americans, drinking water is a body regulation thing like wearing a jacket is for Indonesians. At the slightest hint of a breeze they bundle up with heavy socks, jackets, hats and gloves. Fasting means abstaining from food, drink, cigarettes, sex, gossip, anger, etc. during daylight hours. I’m going into this with only a weak commitment on the no water part…more of a wait and see attitude.
At 6:00 I eat dinner just like I do every day. When I go to bed there is lots of noise, loud speaker Mosque prayers, firecrackers, people talking, etc. So I plug in the electric fan and position it about1 foot away from my head. I do this fairly often anyway when it’s really hot.
I drink a lot of water and get up to pee and the house is fairly quiet, except for the 4 nursing students who live in the boarding house section of the house next door – sounds like they are having a party. Outside these still a lot of noise.
At 3:30 my Ibu mama knocks on the door, “Oma, eat.” And I stagger out in my night gown, sit down at the table and look at exactly what she knows I love for breakfast – noodles. And a hard boiled egg – I really had to do some negotiating to get her to boil the eggs and leave them alone, without then coating them in some mix and deep frying them and she know I like eggs this way much better than fried. Cold – all eggs are served cold here. I open it up; it’s a duck egg, slightly mushier white part and more yellow yolk.
I remember what my sister Pinky, told me: Eat protein. It will stick with you longer. My stomach does not want to co-operate but I force it. There is also a piece of very salty chewy stew meat. Sometimes I have to swallow several times to get each little lump to go down my throat. Ibu mama comes back in and is tisk-tisking and laughing because I haven’t eaten any rice. I drink two big glasses of water and go back to bed.
My host father has told me that I should Not go for walks during Ramadan because it will just make me thirsty. I counter with – I will not go far, just close. He acquiesces. In the morning I get up and walk a little and talk to my daughter who calls from America – great conversation! She’s ironing out the details of canceling my American credit card and getting a new one and we talk about the grandkids and I love it when I get to talk to her!
I come back inside – no school today or tomorrow – do a splash mandi bath and some laundry and get on the computer and read a little of The Noble Qur'an. I can’t believe its only 10:30 in the morning. My body clock says it’s the afternoon...
Will a month of not eating or drinking during the day be like 21 years of not eating donuts, where I only think about it occasionally? Or will it be like, “Oh my God, this is hard as heck, forget it!” I have no clue. I’m kind of curious.