Skipped Sehri and embraced Ramazan Away From Home

Faaiz Gilani
5 min readApr 9, 2023


From wondering if I can even do Ramazan alone, to having the finish line in sight…

Announcing my achievement in the family group chat

Rubbed my eyes, slowly removed the blanket and reached for my phone. A rare day where sleep felt relaxing with less tiredness. The mobile screen illuminated as a big smile scrolled across my face. Joyfully, I murmured, “Only five minutes past the hour? Maybe I can sleep again”. Blissful Faaiz opened the alarm settings and placed an alarm for 4:30 am. Drowsiness and exhaustion made the lad doubt his vision as the timer told him 23 hours till the allotted time. An episode of shifting emotions followed, beginning with curses for the phone, then doubting the alarm settings I placed, and concluding with the unexpected shock. For the first time in my life, I missed a Sehri meal!

Back at home, this never would have happened. My brother, despite his complaints, would have woken me up, even if it meant removing my blanket or turning off the fan. Cruel, isn’t he? But no, he knew the importance of stuffing your belly with parathas at sehri and never let me down. Once, overworked with exams and beyond Arham’s ability to wake me up (I would’ve been a Snorlax if I were a Pokemon), I remember how my mom came to my room and fed me my meal from her hands. 22-year-old boy, sorry, an adult, relying on his mom to be the hero. But living alone has made me accept that what your family does, those small actions, repeatedly, are heroic in ways one cannot perceive.

When I stood for the first fajr prayer of Ramazan, I kept boggling through this debate that Ramazan felt like an extraordinary time because of the people there. Brain, being all rational and logical, kept insisting that I was wrong and Ramazan should be cherished. The heart, filled with emotions from the lonely dawn meal, lanched emotional punches for which the brain had no response. The conversation began as my recent visit to Pakistan made me wonder if a home is the bricks and cement or the people living there. And I applied the same logic to this Blessed Month.

As I type this piece just an hour before Sehri, with so many days into the month of Ramazan, I finally found an answer to the debate. The answer would be explained purely in terms of Ramazan-associated things, with waves of nostalgia and the present situation elaborated upon. A part of me feels like Master Shifu from Kung Fu Panda, as I mostly use food items to teach my Po (the amazing reader).

If you ever wonder what’s my favourite drink, I would instantly reply, Doodh Roh Afzah, but be cold”. Since childhood, this would be my guilty pleasure as my mom started calling me Billa (male cat)-habitually found gulping this flavoured milk. I mean, even at Iftaris back home, everyone would know that the extra glass is for Faaiz and the drink was made at Faaiz’s request. With that same thought, I happily told everyone that I found Rooh Afzah at Asda and now plan on making the most of it in Ramazan. However, the sealed bottle still lies in my cupboard. Never opened, never considered and never found its way to the kitchen.

The crispy potato mixture, battered with a magical coat! That one weakness of Pakistanis and a reason for our obesity. Oh yes, you guessed it right. I am referring to Pakoray! A rumour has it that Pakistanis cannot break their fast without munching on it, and when your mom makes them the best in the extended family, it’s wisest to believe in the rumour and be grateful when offered. However, how strange is it that so much time passed and I only allowed two pakoras (made by a friend) into my mouth?

The problem isn’t that food is not of the same taste. I mean, we are in the UK, and I am accustomed to the bland food. Moreover, that claim does not even apply to Doodh Rooh Afzah. The dilemma is centred more on the people and memories I associate with the dish, and having it without the supporting cast that made it unique, is not the same. Pakoras remind me of those rainy days during the monsoon when the spell of the heat ends with abrupt rain as the family sits together and competes for the fried potatoes in the dish. Similarly, milk reminds me of an exhausted Faaiz returning from playing a sport with his mother replacing a cup of tea with cold doodh rooh afzah as “sports main taqak chahiye hoti hay” (you need energy for sports).

Enough with the food talk, as I need to fast soon and cannot spend the time drolling over food. Even from a religious point of view, everything’s the same, yet so different. Since the whole family would be home together, it would be a bonding opportunity. A sense of closeness was brought, with even friends praying together. I remember my mom being an automatic reminder for prayer, and she knew which ones I missed and later would question me about them. You can convince Mom that you will make up for it and not slack off, but those excuses don’t work when your Dad starts questioning. Back then, I would be slightly worried about this accountability, but with no one around to point you out for skipped prayer, praying consistently can become a tough job. And don’t get me started on the struggle of Tarawih. It would be so embarrassing when the young (us brothers) would look to avoid the whole 20 Rakat, blaming tiredness, but our dad would not settle for anything less than the complete prayer.

Would I then conclude that Ramazan away from home has been miserable? No! While homesickness is too big to ignore, the learning process of living independently has been unique! Apart from the discipline to simply wake up and prepare Sehri and manage to pray consistently, you can learn a lot as a simple wanderer in the streets. How beautiful is the experience of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a diverse set of people? Different nationalities, and sects, praying in their style, addressing the same God! No one is there to correct or judge them for their methods. The kindness on the streets and the empathy from even non-Muslims are beyond comprehension, and every other day, you relish this display of affection for one another.

At the end of the day, the primary concern was loneliness this month. My friends from back home can narrate that convincing me to stay for an Iftari was a near-impossible task as I would grab the first available Uber and rush back home. The experience of having it with family is unprecedented. Nevertheless, this “social butterfly” (a sarcastic remark my friend gave the other day) has somehow come across people kind enough to ask me to join them for iftars. Even the support system from back home has been truly phenomenal with my friends sharing recipes of food and asking how the fast goes etc. (My family has been amazing MashAllah and for privacy, I do not want to tell what they did, but felt bad for not mentioning them)

Nevertheless, there is one thing that regularly twitches a nerve. I always took for granted the public Azaan, and here, going through weeks without hearing it is truly saddening.



Faaiz Gilani

An aspiring writer, with no prior writing experience, talking about his experiences to help others getting bored in Quarantine……….enjoy my short stories!