The holy month of Ramadhan has arrived here, in Sanford, FL, one day behind most of the world. A crescent was supposedly sighted somewhere in Saudi Arabia a day earlier. Strange, no, whenever the astronautical probability of actually sighting a new moon is almost zero, Allah miraculously bestows a miracle (only for Ramadhan and Eid el Adha, mind you) to a couple of Saudi citizens whiling their time away in an obscure desert of the country. And most of the world willingly, unquestioningly follow. I sometimes wonder if the Bedouins who usually sight these elusive crescents partake in the remnants of fermenting dates while getting bored in the dunes? By chance? But then I brush away these wayward thoughts. Can’t be. These are our steadfast and upright Saudi brethren who are guiding us in the accurate calculations of our days, months, and years; they must be right.
There is very little to look forward to, this blessed month. Dudu Corona has all of us by our forelocks (for those that still have them). Usually, a new Ramadhan crescent heralds a month of hunger and lethargy followed by some of the most delicious and calorie busting foods cooked and consumed the entire year. Masjid el Hayy tries to substitute somehow, dolling out yummy (sometimes) dinners to anybody willing to drive by. Donor funded meals at Musti Shivji’s are for those who have the fastest cellphone thumbs; faster than Billy The Whizz, even. The 300 meals are gone quicker than a fiery Florida lightning strike in summer. What I miss the most are the congressional Ramadhan duas / salaats / meets; these have a magical flavor in this special month, now relegated to online, solitary alternatives.
I am still at awe at how the combined mass of all Dudu Coronas weighing a measly one gram has brought the world to its knees, made over 3,000,000 plus people sick, and eliminated well over 250,000 lives off this earth. Is this, then, a portent of Allah’s power and majesty? Something we only imagined, now manifested?
My days are a disciplined regiment, mandated by the almighty Dudu. Wake up at 4. Pushups, sit-ups, pullups, sehri-daaku, salaat, recite Quraan, sleep, answer emails and WA messages, try and pacify worldwide pleas for funds for the hungry, reconcile the cashflow to try and make two plus two to equal five, get frustrated and irritated. Run one day, do weights another, intense workout the next, get ready for salaat and iftaar. Recite dua e Iftetah, try and find a lecturer who is not same-old, same-old, and will not put me to sleep. In bed by midnight. A ditto repeat of this routine every day, broken only for trips to the grocery store.
As I tap this Blog, a ‘Maulana’ calls me on WA all the way from Bareilly. That’s a village in the state of Uttar Pradesh. In India. I have no clue where he got my number from.
Janaab Yusufali Saheb? Am I talking to Janaab Yusufali Saheb?
Oh, ho. I am instantly wary. I am always on guard when anybody addresses me in a flowery manner. I reply in the affirmative. A major error.
I get an earful for the next ten minutes. The ‘Maulana’ berates me for everything wrong with his community.
Why did CAI not feed our entire poor community for Ramadhan? For COVID-!9 lockdown aid? Do you know how difficult the situation is with us here? We have no food, we cannot work our lands, our savings are gone, the children are hungry…
Shocked, I counter that CAI did send food aid to his village in Bareilly. He snorts angrily.
Janaab, I can feel the scorn and wrath in his tone through my cellphone, do you have a family? Children? Do you partake in iftaar and sehri? Your children are fed succulent mutton and chicken? Every day? Now tell me, what will five kilos of rice, five kilos of flour, two kilos of sugar, and some tea do for a family of eight? For the whole month of Ramadhan. As the Imam of my masjid, what should I say to the widows with children? How do I placate them? I know your organization well; you people do this every year. Aree, but use your brains, nai? At least give enough…
I bristle in ire. But I restrain myself and try and explain to the ‘maulana’ that it would be impossible for anybody, let alone petite CAI, to feed the whole of India. I want to tell him CAI aids poor people in 14 plus countries. 24 for the COVID-19 food aid program. That we have to be equitable to all the eligible victims. That the food aid is to supplement their regular meals and not meant to be the repast itself. But he does not let me have a word in. In a typical fashion used by half-baked ‘maulanas’ who always resort to emotional blackmail as a weapon, he leaves me with a dire warning – that I have to face Allah and His Prophet (s) on the Day of Judgement. I hang up on him. I could be on the phone with him until I turned blue in the face for all the difference I’d make in changing his absurd reasoning.
And so, my days are akin to this, thus far, an almost replica, without the tirades. Pleas of aid from across the world, pleading, begging. The minute I get smug with satisfaction we’ve helped so many people whenever donors step up with more cash, it’s all allocated and gone by the end of the day. Just like that…like a snap of fingers. Jeez.
Ya Allah, I pray this stalemate ends. Soon. I need to go out and interact and see and talk to faces apart from my close family. I sound different to my ears even, talking to various CAI worldwide operations. I sound weird, hollow, more combative? Where did my lifting and passionate sounding voice go? I need to travel, our 660 orphans need immediate attention, they are confused and feeling insure without the routine they were used to. We need to complete five schools in various stages of construction and restart educating, we need to finish our desperately needed housing for the homeless in India…tens of other projects that need constant and physical supervision.
There are so many differing and maddening opinions about the timing of the possible demise of Dudu Corona, from an obscure ‘soon’ to not before 2022 or until a vaccine is created, tested, and administered to us. Emirates Airlines has no clue when they’ll restart; it was mid-May, then mid-June, and now mid-August. Maybe. And I don’t understand why they want to restart midmonth? Why not the first of the month? End of the month? I mention Emirates because they are an important and integral part of my travel plans.
Perhaps the Dudu is here to stay, hanging over my head like a sharp sword of a Saudi executioner, ready to roll my stately head? Perhaps we need an instant cure rather than a vaccine? Reset our affairs to Jan 1, 2020, and cure the subsequent afflictions? Two promising cures are being touted on the www:
1. Smoking cigarettes. Many ‘experts’ opine that the smoke will flush the Dudu out from the lungs in a mighty hurry. Them Dudu’s don’t like smoke and nicotine. There will be side effects, of course, like all smokers have. But at least the Dudu’s will be gone? I kinda like this idea.
2. As our honorable President suggested, ingest a small dose of bleach? I first think this is a bit extreme but am giving it a second thought now. This guy did not become President of the United States on a whim. He has solid wisdom and proven experience to back up his credentials and eligibility to lead over 329 million people. His words must have weight and wisdom to back them up. To be on the safe side however, I think I’ll wait until either Pence or Pompeo try this method first? Set a sterling example for us to follow?
Whatever it is, get this Dudu out of here. For sanity’s sake?