All in the name of fasting

As kids my siblings (more about them here, here and here) and I eagerly awaited Shivratri like Vultures so we could fast. That sounds like a misplaced analogy? Just wait.

On the auspicious day we are super thrilled that we don’t have to go to school, like that is not enough happiness we don new clothes so that we could fast on Shivratri. After a lot of racket and a lengthy puja conclude it becomes official that we are fasting. At that very minute we officially start eating. We gently start with the offerings made to God: a blend of banana, milk and sugar and a few chunks of coconut. Especially for this day Father brings dry-fruits and not so dry fruits enough for a month. Mother makes fruit custard and special Laddus with Jaggery, Peanuts, Sesame and a few other Millets for energy and her and our sanity while we are fasting. A few minutes later we start with fruit custard and one Laddu because we are feeling weak already.  With a few morsels dangling around the mouth and a lot of it melting inside it we go out and proudly, spraying the morsels that had difficulty melting, announce to the world that we are fasting and thus, fulfil our duty as responsible children. All the kids fasting in new clothes gather and talk elaborately about how we didn’t eat for 2 long hours and exchange Peanut, Rava and Besan Laddus made especially for the fasting day for extra energy. While eating and spraying the Laddus, we plan our night activities: musical chairs, antakshari and gossip, for we have to stay awake all night. Yay!

Exhausted talking so much about fasting and not sleeping, we go back and eat some more fruits and a few Laddus. We share with Mother about the dishes neighbors made and wisely suggest that we make them next year. Once more we are weak from talking about food and not eating it, so this time we need, not food but, some sympathy and a lot of appreciation from Mother.

After another hour all we need and can think of is some ordinary food which on a usual day would be frowned upon and called names. Therefore, we spend our afternoon remembering the good times we had with the food we can’t eat today, while images of hot and spicy food loomed in front of our mind’s eyes.  Helplessly we resort to eating some more Laddus.

Each minute takes forever to move forward. Bored of eating Fruits and Laddus we approach Mother and start quizzing her, “is it ok to eat chips, is it ok to eat cakes, what about egg puffs?” Mother being Mother, obviously has her cheat sheet for us. She says yes to everything and wards off more questions by saying “ only food we are not supposed to eat are Rice, Chappatis and Curries” and suggests that we eat some dry fruits for energy.

Dry-fruits sustain us till evening, besides the thought of another fruit turns our stomach. On our bulky TV with an ultra fat knob to change the channel, which remained untouched in its lifetime, for there was only one channel, they are playing really nice shows and movies but we are unable to focus. We need some motivation to continue to live, so we go out for some fresh air and hold a round of discussion on what we haven’t eaten all day with the fasting team in new clothes and another round of discussion on “how we are not going to sleep all night while yawing.”

Evening around 7ish we start looking like wounded soldiers at the end of a long battle. Although exhausted and a little sleepy, the thought that we have to go to school if we sleep gives us immense courage and happiness to continue; besides, on an ordinary day staying up till late only means homework and studying.

It’s already dinner time and we hate the sound of fruits now. We tailgate Mother like ducklings, irritating at that, while she is busy preparing for next day. We grill her on what she was going to make for the next day to break the fast and make some earnest suggestions while our mouths are watering.

Finally the exciting endless night is upon us. We are ecstatic, therefore we utilize the energy gossiping and playing for as long as 1am after which we realize eyelids are the heaviest parts of the body and heads rock to the music we can’t hear. To keep the eyelids and head in its place becomes an athletic feat. We sleepwalk home and sleep-gape at the clock every 5 min. to see if it’s morning already. Looking at our tragic state, Mother announces that God will not punish us if we sleep after 12am, as it’s considered next day and even before she completes the sentence we are halfway through our dreamless sleep.

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And two decades later history sort of repeats

I saved some of my favorite clothes from college days although I have outgrown them, not vertically but horizontally. I can’t so much as breath in them now, but I firmly believe that there will come a day when I’m going to have fabulous flat abs and proudly flaunt them all over again.

So on and off I ran a few kilometers, once or twice a month I even managed to do 70 Sun Salutations and rested for three weeks to recover from the pain, but no signs of flat abs. Then I resorted to diet; I lost charm and a lot of hair and added dark circles to complete the look, but still no abs.

My only hope now is fasting. I told Mother, “Starting today I’m going to fast one day every week, so don’t cook for me.” Mother asked puzzled, “so I don’t have to pack lunch for you today?” I replied calm and composed, “no lunch, just pack two Carrots, two Bananas, two Oranges, some Boost, and some Millet powder.” Mother laughed so hard till tears ran down her face and her jaws ached. What she doesn’t realize is that with my new resolution, abs have no option but come to me helplessly. Smirk.

Fasting Shivaratri

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