Mama and Aunt Fawzia had really outdone themselves this Eid. A delicious array of food covered the dining room table, the tempting aroma of curries and rice blending into a delectable fusion that had my mouth watering.
“Hamza, I said stop that!” Mama scolded, shooing my little brother and his greedy hands away from the table. “Alima, sweetie, watch your brother. Everything won’t be ready for another 10 minutes and I don’t want him ruining it.”
“Of course, Mama,” I replied as she raced back to the kitchen. I turned to the six-year-old. “Hamza, go and tell Papa and Uncle Umair that lunch will be ready soon.”
Hamza scowled but scampered off to the living room to find the brothers.
“He stealing food again?” my cousin asked, emerging from the kitchen carrying a plate of naan. “He doesn’t quit, does he?”
I chuckled. “The little idiot does this every year, Maleeka. I’m not even surprised anymore.”
After 10 more minutes of bustling around, Mama and Aunt Fawzia surveyed their handiwork, sweat trickling out from beneath their hijabs. Everyone began taking their seats, complimenting the blushing chefs.
We were just about to begin eating when Mama turned to me. “Honey, did you remember to take your insulin injection?”
My family was too busy heaping food onto their plates to notice the tension creep into my shoulders. I forced a placid smile as I replied, “No, Mama. I’ll go take it now.”
As I excused myself and rushed to the bathroom, I gritted my teeth against the familiar frustration of my body’s weakness. Ramadan was always a struggle for me. My whole family fasted, with the exception of little Hamza, but my body had different plans for me. As did my doctor. Donating to charity just wasn’t the same, no matter what Mama and Papa said.
I just wanted to practise my faith with my family.
Sighing, I went about my injection as quickly as I could, not even wincing at the slight sting. My growling stomach complained that I wasn’t fast enough.
Ramadan was always a struggle for me. My whole family fasted, with the exception of little Hamza, but my body had different plans for me.
“What did I miss?” I asked as I slid back into my seat minutes later. I smiled to see that Mama had taken the liberty of filling my plate with twice the amount of food I would have given myself.
“Not much,” Papa replied. “Maleeka was just telling us about what she wants to do now that she’s graduated from university.”
“Knowing Maleeka, she’s got big plans already,” I teased, digging into my food and nearly moaning at the explosion of flavour on my tongue.
“Ambition is never a bad thing, Alima,” Uncle Umair interjected, his words muffled around the food stuffed into his mouth. He looked like a hamster, cheeks bulging from the excess. “We all have high hopes for you too.”
“Ah yes, I feel the loving weight of those high hopes on my shoulders already,” I joked, sharing a look with Maleeka. We both burst into giggles.
Mama slapped me on the shoulder. “Enough of that nonsense, eh? We love you and want what’s best for you.”
“I know, Mama, I know.” I pulled her in for a quick side hug. “And thank you for cooking all this food; it’s amazing. You too, Auntie.”
“Anything for my family,” Mama murmured, smiling softly.
We all continued eating and chatting, enjoying each other’s company into the late afternoon. With each laugh shared, my previous tension faded from my limbs, until all I knew was peace.
Today was going to be a good day.