The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY -

“Sehri to­day is at 3.47am,” an­nounces Ahmed, of the time de­vout Mus­lims stop eat­ing for the day till Iftar, when the Ramzan fast is bro­ken. He hasn’t had much sleep. “These days, I come back from the Taraweeh prayers at around 11 pm and doze for an hour be­fore wak­ing up for Ta­ha­jjud prayers af­ter mid­night,” says the elec­tron­ics busi­ness­man. A short sleep and then he is up again for the Sehri meal.

Abu Su­fiyan, the younger son and a pro­fes­sional at an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy firm in Gur­gaon, re­turns home around this time af­ter his night shift. Ahmed and his wife, elated to have the full brood of nine to­gether for a month, read the Qu­ran and have their Sehri meal. They all go back to sleep af­ter that.

“I wake up late in the af­ter­noon but don’t go to work as my el­der son Ar­shan is man­ag­ing the shop well,” beams Ahmed. Once a per­ma­nent fix­ture at FM Elec­tron­ics at Turk­man Gate — “F and M are the ini­tials of the first names of my wife and me”, he says, pleased with his own in­ge­nu­ity — he has now handed over the daily oper­a­tions to his 36-yearold son. Dur­ing the holy month, Ar­shan keeps the shop open till mid­night. “Busi­ness isn’t too good dur­ing the day at Ramzan time be­cause peo­ple come out for shop­ping much later,” he ex­plains.

The other sis­ters, Saba and Farha, are also teach­ers. While Saba teaches at the Is­lamic in­sti­tute and re­turns home early these days, Farha, a gov­ern­ment school teacher, is on leave. “For­tu­nately I can avail leave dur­ing Ramzan and so am able to en­joy the month to the fullest,” says Farha. Su­fiyan isn’t so lucky. He is on night shift and car­ries home food for Iftar. There are times when the 27-yearold even has the Sehri meal in of­fice. “It’s rough to have both these meals with­out the fam­ily,” he says as he leaves home. the glasses. There also is mango milk­shake, pre­ferred by Mukhtar. “We keep the Iftar meal light and have fruits, kachaloo or fruit chat, milk­shakes and dates. It is for din­ner that we have more elab­o­rate meals,” ex­plains Saima.

Wait­ing for the mosque to sound the siren that an­nounces the end of the day’s fast, the fam­ily sit around the das­tarkhwan. The fam­ily pa­tri­arch then in­tones, “We must pray now. It’s a month of pu­rity and good virtue and we have to be ex­tra char­i­ta­ble and pi­ous this month. It is said that your prayers in front of the Iftar food are more pre­cious than all other things.”

The siren wails and the sonorous azaan is heard. Each

Piyal Bhat­tachar­jee

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