In my recurring dreams, especially during this time of the year, I sit salivating before the biggest bowl of the most yumilicious bubur lambuk any mosque can offer. There are generous helpings of lamb pieces with prawns and a sprinkling of celery and crisp fried shallots floating on melting ghee. As soon as the sound of the canons fired from the state mosque is heard, and ignoring any etiquette for berbuka puasa, I’d plunge my spoon into the bowl which had been sitting there tantalising me for the past half an hour. As soon as the rich, creamy taste of the gastronomic delight hit my tastebuds, the dream turns into a nightmare. It leaves a salty, very salty taste in the mouth. At other times, it is a taste not unlike that of raw badly produced belacan, that goes drip, drip, drip right to the back of my throat. And that is when I wake up.
Any Freudian pyschoanalists who happened to chance upon this piece of navel gazing, might be forgiven for concluding that the nightmare has its roots in my childhood. And he/she couldn’t be far wrong.
Growing up in a household with siblings who refuse to grow old, we are forever at the mercy of those more creative and innovative in ways that manage to make others look foolish. Take the month of Ramadan for instance. In other normal households, there are etiquettes as to how one should wake another for the sahur. You wake a person up gently, call out his or her name repeatedly until that person wakes up. But no, not in my household; that tactic is deemed too civilised.
Nursing a stomach full of delicacies Mak had prepared for berbuka, we go to sleep hoping to dream of nice things because we are told that devils and ghosts are locked away for the whole of the holy month. But of course, there are other people that should be locked up as well – people like Abang.
While Mak prepares the sahur downstairs, Pak would wake us up. Gently he would repeat our names in a sing song manner that served to lull us more into deep slumber.
Having failed his mission, Abang is then deployed to use any merciless tactic and device that he could think of in his waking hours. One way is to do a concoction of belacan juice, which he then carefully drips into our gaping mouth. The experience is not unlike eating otak udang, neat. On other days, it would be salt water and that leaves you with a very dry throat that you do have to wake up for a drink. Having succeeded with the mission, he’d go back to the dining table and we’d all be given applauses as we descend down the stairs, hair in disarray, eyes still half closed.
On days when the buka puasa feast proved to be more fatal and caused us deep, deep sleep, Abang would come up with another plan. Armed with a charcoal pencil, he would proceed to work on our faces. Many a times, I have woken up with a Groucho Marx like moustache or a Fu Man Chu one, which ever took his fancy.
I have yet to try these tactics in my own household now. My husband, like my father, would start with a gentle call of the name. He had tried sprinkling water, but the most effective is still to pull off the duvet. Responses range from, “in a minute,” “I know, I will wake up” to “I am not hungry”.
During my more svelte and lighter form, which must be some twenty years ago, hubby used to carry me downstairs, prop me against the sink before proceeding to wash my face with very cold water. Now, a feat like that will break his back.
More Ramadan Ramblings:
Of Mak and Ramadan
Memories of Pak This Ramadan
Fussing over Fasting
Cerita Ceriti Bulan Puasa
What's For Sahur?