“Why would a Christian fast for Ramadan?” is a question I’ve heard much more often than “It’s great that you’re fasting for Ramadan”.

And on every such occasion, my reply has remained the same. “Three reasons: one, respect for the region I live in, two, a small act of solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters, and three, the obvious health benefits associated with it.”

I should be truthful, the looks I’ve got for my reply have ranged from that of absolute incredulousness to that of ‘has-he-gone-cuckoo?’ and I don’t blame them. Nobody who has seen me in real life would believe I’m capable of fasting for even a single day.

And yet, here I am, fasting, without even water, since 2009. It was a dare, from one of my Muslim friends, which made me take up fasting seriously. Initially, I had a splitting headache and felt I could see double of everything (due to my body adjusting to the new food-less scenario), but I held on to complete day one. And it grew easier from then on.

I still remember my first fasting as clear as if it was just yesterday. I wasn’t yet married and had to go to a hotel to break my fast. I wasn’t yet aware of the traditional fast-breaking method: dates and water. So I fasted until it was officially over and then rushed out, only to find I had a flat tire. With no hotels or shops nearby, I had to stay back, toil to change the tire and then leave. Maybe that incident made me fully appreciate the responsibility I had undertaken.

Today, I find myself a much better person. I’ve reduced my weight, feel good about having controlled my hunger pangs and the emotions associated with it and I’ve earned the respect of my office-mates who’ve never fasted a day in their lives.

By doing so, I truly began to appreciate how people from around the world, who do not have food to eat, suffered daily. It also made me contemplate about my wasteful ways (although it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the others I’ve seen). I’ve been part of Iftar evenings and have helped distribute Iftar packages to motorists who couldn’t reach home on time.

I also inspired some of my non-Muslim friends to try fasting, but none of them have crossed two days at a stretch.

So will I continue fasting in the days to come? You bet I would. It has given me a new self-esteem, a stronger digestive system and leaner tummy. Really, what have I got to complain about?

– Taita TS

Image Credits: Waleed Alhusseinan

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