Ramadhan - for many of us it is simply a month where we shy away from indulgences; for others it is a period of reflection; for many though it still remains a duty to be performed as a God-fearing muslim.
Whichever category we fall into, one thing is for sure - the very first day is always nervously approached.
A hundred questions come into our wavering minds. Will we keep the faith and make it through the month; will we be able to overcome the pangs of hunger, thirst and desires; Will we prove to ourselves and Allah that we are indeed worthy of a place in his jannat?
And on a more realistic note, we wonder if we will get up on time for the very first Seher; whether the soft mattress and duck-feather pillows can be given up for a token meal which is supposed to carry us through the day?
But all these fears are banished - because we hardly sleep thru the night. Those who are fortunate to attend the Taraweeh are already awake, and the others anticipate Seher with a trepidation.
The first Seher starts with a cup of tea, some wheatbreads, some fruit juice, and last night's biryani. And gallons and gallons of water.
And then the meal is over.
No, you cannot look longingly at the goodies in the fridge for the whole day. Temptation is Satan's first and most powerful card. And he can play it like a charm. Do not fall for it.
As the day goes by you forget that you are fasting as life pulls you into its usual whirlpool.
The first pangs of thirst pinches you after the sun has crossed overhead. The heat under your collar suggests to you that maybe you should quench the fire in your throat with some cool water. Ah ha! Stay cool my friend, the Lohar prayer shall guide you.
Then evening approaches. The smells of coffee next door, fried knick-knacks from the vendor across the street, and your office colleague busily munching away on his potato chips tease your senses. Asr prays with you and leads you away from all this.
At last, Iftaar arrives.
Strangely though, you don't feel as if you have deprived yourself of anything till now.
Contrary to all fears such as dropping like a stone on the way to work, fainting while sitting at your desk, panting with your tongue hanging half-way to your feet, wanting that innermost basal desire - none of all this has happened. You are calm and look forward to breaking the fast.
So comes the small supplication and then the sweet taste of your first drop of precious water since Seher, followed by the sweeter taste of rich dates. And other goodies - Fritters, fruits, Broth and of course more water.
The deed is done. Maghrib takes you beyond this and you thank Allah for giving you the patience, perseverance and piety for making it thru the first day of Ramadhan.
Insha Allah, the coming days shall be no different.