x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dreams of the future, memories of the past: Ramadan diary

Ramadan through the eyes of everyday residents.

Everyone you ask about Ramadan will most definitely tell you about time spent with family. The month has become synonymous with family get-togethers and a time when ties among members grow closer.

For me, Ramadan gives me a chance to look back at a year gone, and to look ahead.

This is a month that takes me down memory lane and across the years, and provides me with strength to move into the future.

Interestingly enough, thinking about it now, I can recall phases of my life during this month that can never be forgotten and that have made me who I am today.

I was 7 years old when I first started to fast. I still remember not being able to last until sunset. I can't forget the disappointment I felt when I couldn't. During my pre-teens, I wanted to be an adult and act like one during this month.

As my teenage years crept by, I did grow up naturally, and Ramadan was a time that I cherished, but still that deep religious serenity eluded me.

No matter, it was in this month that I completed reading the Quran, something I thought of as an accomplishment - a habit, something I continue doing on an annual basis now.

When college started, the fun thing about Ramadan was I would always get together with the guys and we would simply enjoy each other's company.

After my college years, I experienced Ramadan away from home for five years, completing my residency training programme in the US. Those years were different. The month felt different; I was at work when I had to break my fast. I was at work most of the day, for that matter.

When I was in my home, though, it still felt the same, albeit without the company of the extended family. People there would never understand why I had to fast during that month. A stranger in a strange land, I simply stood out.

It has come full circle now that I'm back from abroad. I can say that this is the Ramadan I had imagined since I was 7. Now, in my 30s, I have come to realise that sense of serenity I had yearned to feel all those years back. Ramadan has become a month of speculation, determination and a month when dreams of the future are formed.

Hassan Galadari, MD, is 33, a dermatologist, and lives in Dubai.