Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Life in the Fasting Lane


I started fasting maybe at seven or eight years old, much like other children but I think I only started completing the whole month when I was thirteen, while in boarding school. In Standard Six, I missed completing one day when I passed out in school during the annual BCG inoculation campaign. The next thing I knew I was lying in the Teachers’ Room with Madam Ee coaxing me to eat the kaya and margarine toast. I gladly did, plus the coffee. We kids have been seeing similar toasts disappear into the Teacher’s Room since time began and when I became a prefect in Standard Six, entering the Teacher’s Room was a privilege for us prefects, under the pretext of carrying their books or looking for them teachers. It was toast heaven. Don’t ask me why were they sticking them needles into us during the fasting month, but that they were doing just that to us that year.

I missed a few days of fasting the previous year because I thought I was strong enough to play with the likes of Seng Lee, Arumugam and Shanmuganathan. Only later that I realized it was not a good idea to go gallivanting during the fasting month with those guys. My fasting record was perfect over the five years in boarding school, the next five years after that and then it went to the dogs. It was not easy to fast when my housemate Rosli would tell us every morning that he made nasi goreng for breakfast. And he made extra for me and our housemate, Mardzukie. Great. And Rosli could work up (wok up?) a good tasting nasi goreng during the fasting month. I was happily munching on a Snickers one day when I ran into Prof. Gardow and he asked me,

"H____, aren’t we in the fasting month now?"

Great. Now I have to hide if I want to eat. When I return home after that, it took me about two years before I could shake off the nasty habit of not fasting for the whole month…..

Whenever I am offshore, I try to avoid going up the steps to the cat deck, those mothers usually have at least 44 steps to climb. Usually I’d go walkabout at 6 pm or so, near to buka time. Trouble and blowouts usually wait for buka puasa to be over with, if they know what’s good for them. But once in a while, we lose. This one time, we had to do a lot of running around, thanks to a no good well that would not flow even though we stuck a coiled tubing down its throat and pumped all the nitrogen gas it wants (as Prof. Enggibock says, my speciality), and I ended up crawling to the galley an hour past buka time. I remember thinking that if I buka that day, I will not fast again that year. No fun if you fumble the first few days cos then it would be too easy not to fast later in the fasting month.

I am not the greatest fasterer in the world, if there is such a word, ha ha.... Lina has to keep an eye on me every single day of the fasting month, make sure I don’t overextend myself, hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!! To top things off, Sofia fasts like I do, ssssssssssssssssssssss..... Whenever she negotiates with Lina on whether she can buka or not, I'd get dirty looks thrown at me like passes to a wide receiver. No prizes for guessing from whom she inherited that trait.... Shoot, Lina fasted the whole month when she was carrying Nazzim........

“Kalau kerja ada kena mencangkul macam manalah Papa ni agaknya”, she’d say once in a while……