Maren Kateraas worked as an Information Consultant with AidCom in Kuala Lumpur. Her first contact point with Ramadan was when her colleague from AidCom invited her to a breaking fast meal, or iftar, with friends in Al-Hunafa, a Muslim non-profit organisation.
Would people be attacking the food when they break fast?
Maren thought that people will be attacking the food the moment they entered the room, not taking time to talk to each other. She also expected people to be annoyed and moody but instead, there was an incredible atmosphere of peace, understanding, and sense of belonging between all of the people fasting
It was decided. She would start fasting for a day.
She simply had to try out fasting after all her friend explained, it was all about self-control. “What harm could it do to try for just a day? And if the Muslims became more disciplined and better humans for eleven whole months, in best case scenario I could become a better me for eleven days.”
Maren set her alarm for 5:20 am but when it rang, she was not too happy to get up just to have breakfast. As she did not have a stove in the apartment, she had bought an egg mayo sandwich and smoothie the previous night. While eating it, she decided that it was not enough and started to raid the fridge. She managed to find a banana, some granola, crackers and an avocado-dip. However, time was ticking too fast and she panicked when it showed 5.39. She started stuffing herself with the banana on top of the egg-sandwich with a handful of granola. When the clock blinked 5.40, Maren ran to the window then opened it to find out whether the sun was up. Hezreen clearly told her that you can eat until AROUND 5.40, more or less. But it was clearly dark outside, so she decided to top up her meal with another 1.5 litres of water at 5.48.
After that, Maren sat uncomfortably stuffed on the couch and wondered whether she had cheated her first Ramadhan because of the time. But she was immediately relieved when she heard the Azan, she managed to eat in time!
But the following hours was rather stressful for Maren.
“I remember becoming super sensitive to everything. I turned the air condition up in the office to 30 degrees because I was freezing like crazy. Every little sound would annoy me, and every time someone talked to me I wanted to scream and roll my eyes because they were wasting my energy. I remember a co-worker chewing gum at the other side at the office, and every time he would make the tiniest noise, the hair on my arms would raise and I really wanted to scream out loud. I was extremely hungry already at 9-10 am, and couldn’t focus on anything else the whole day. It ended up with me leaving the office at 2pm and going home to sleep to make the hours pass faster.”
Would she fast again?
When asked whether she would try fasting again. Maren said, “If I ever try fasting again it should be for a more important reason that just to “do it”; and I would like to try for more than one day. People did say that the first days are the hardest. Since I have never had any self-control when it comes to food, it would be interesting to see if fasting could change the way I look at food.”