Balancing Routine and Rituals

By anonymous

Here’s how an evening is like for me during Ramadhan:

5.00pm: Leave work, fetch mom, visit bazaar (any bazaar), buy kueh (cheap cheap, 1 packet $1), buy rice, buy noodles

5.30pm: Feel guilty for buying so much food

6.00pm: Reach home and wait…

6.30pm: Still waiting…

6.45pm: Dad comes home and we brace ourselves for the inevitable “why did you buy so much food??”

7.11pm: Break fast, eat dates, trying not to eat everything at once

7.40pm: Break for evening prayers and everyone hurries to get ready for tarawih*. Try to have a civil discussion on which mosque to go to. My brother says Sultan, my mother says Kassim, my dad votes for Mattar.

8.00pm: Head to the car, still debating which mosque to go to. For once, I get to decide.

8.20pm: Finally at the mosque! Imam makes an announcement to “rapatkan saf”**, frets over how to fill the gap and why that makcik just won’t move one step to her right

10.00pm: Tarawih ends

And repeat for 30 days. Sometimes, the routine changes but the rituals – of breaking fast with the family, attending night prayers – are constant. Then there are times where I stray from the rituals, but stick to the routine. And those are the times when I feel the most guilt. So I attempt to comfort myself with “it’s ok, try again tomorrow”, or “it’s ok, God understands”, and try to ignore the veiled sarcasm behind these phrases. Because truly, aren’t I arrogant to assume that I have a tomorrow? And isn’t it foolish to assume that all is forgiven just because God understands?

I remember last year where puasa was more a routine than a ritual for me. It felt like I was doing the bare minimum of just abstaining from food and water; I struggled to keep to the rituals. That’s when I realised how important rituals are to me. So this year, I resolved to do better. But no matter the resolve, life and work gets in the way. And I find myself repeating again, “it’s ok, try again tomorrow” and “God understands”.

*also known as nightly prayers
**to close the gaps in between the prayer line

Read the other posts here: Rituals blog series