UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Coņo
Arthur David Orosco
I have a violent aversion for the coņo. Whenever I pass the AS Lobby, I all of a sudden feel this urgent need to spit. I cannot bear the sight of all those who litter around the expansive hall, wrapped in their signature shirts, showered with the oils of extravagant perfumes, and talking about the finer points of shopping in Hong Kong in that incorrigibly irritating language. But my views would change radically from plain disgust to a kind of unbridled desire to destroy my peeve by becoming like them.
While everybody's celebrating and starting to welcome 1998 on New Year's eve, Muslims all over the world are celebrating a different occasion. They are welcoming the start of the holy month of Ramadhan. Ramadhan which started on December 31 and ends January 28, is not just any other month for Muslims. This signifies the start of a month long sacrifice for them. When I say sacrifice, this means abstaining from food and water for almost 13 hours. So you can imagine what a great sacrifice this is for all of us. And we're supposed to get on with our usual daily activities, with no food and water from sunrise until sundown.
Still, this activity has great meaning for all of us. Ramadhan serves as a time for our spirirtual cleansing. It's like our own way of repenting for our sins, of getting rid of all the "dirt" that we have accumulated from the previous year.
So how does a UP student spend his day with an empty stomach? Here's a peek at a typical day for a fasting student.
4 am: KKKrrriiinnggg. It's time to wake up now, but I can't seem to lift my heavy eyelids. I'll just have to force myself up then and eat the cold, unpalatable food I prepared the night before. I also need to take my vitamins to supplement my meal and help me function for the coming day. Then I'll brush my teeth; I can;t be allowed to do this in the morning. Oh, I shouldn't forget to use mouthwash to make sure I don't have gorilla breath when I wake up again.
5 am: SUB'H prayer
7am: Torture day has now begun. I should now be getting ready for class. Remember not to lick the water on your face while taking a bath.
8:30am: My first class of the day. Good thing hunger and thirst haven't stricken me yet. What I ate earlier would just be my early (no, make that my very, very early) breakfast. Right now I can still concentrate on all this experimental psycho stuff, and survive until 1 when this class ends.
1pm: Time for DHOH'R prayer. On a regular day I would be eating lunch by this time. I never really appreciated lunch until now. It was just a common thing to do during a free time slot. Something to look forward to: later, I'll be having my dinner to break my fasting for the day.
2:30pm: My second class of the day. And, boy, did it take all my reserved energy climbing the long flights of stairs just to get to the 4th floor of AS. Now, I'm, thirsty. I would sure like a cold glass of water. Yeah, right.
4pm: At last my class is finished. Two hours to go before eating time again. If I was able to survive 3/4 of my day without food and water, then I can definitely get through the remaining hours. I should be praying now for AS'R. Whew! I can feel the pang of hunger.
5:30pm: God, how I wish those 30 minutes were just 30 seconds! It seems ironic how you seem to be growing weaker when it's about to near IFTAR (eating time again).
5:45pm: Fifteen minutes more to go, but it might as well be fifteen years to me!
5:55pm: The seconds seem to drag. Just hold on for a few more seconds and you're free at last from sheer torture.
6pm: I survived! I can't believe I survived. Alhamdullillah (Thank you, Allah)! Have to run now to catch the remaining food supply.
Fasting during Ramadhan also has its benefits. Aside from the spiritual cleansing, this is also the time when we get to be really (or almost) good boys and girls. Aside from food, we're also required to abstain from doing any foolish and sinful acts (even married couples are forbidden to do their thing when fasting). Plus, it is attested that fasting also provides physical cleansing. But the one thing that really motivates us during Ramadhan is the sense of achievement that we get at the end of the day during IFTAR. The feeling of fulfillment that we have managed to survive amidst all the hardships and temptations gives us that enough push to continue. There is also the fact that we're doing all of this sacrifice in the name of Allah, and that alone is enough reason for us to hold on for the rest of the day and eventually of the whole month of Ramadhan.
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