“Tappa Sahar”

Arshid Malik

By: Arshid Malik

Ramadhan Mubarak. The blissful and holy month is here and it is time for Muslims across the world to observe fasts and abstain from all that is wrong and evil. It is the month of cleansing the soul and the body. It is the month which is supposed to chart the course of our lives over the coming eleven months and it is an unfortunate fact that most people rarely get into that and start doing whatever they please to do as soon as the holy fasting is over, at least as far as I have observed in this part of the world. The lesson in Ramadhan is the lesson itself. One should retain all that one observes during this holy month as the true spirit of Ramadhan is in that and that only. Well, I am no “saint” or “preacher” but this much I know for sure for my mother taught me that when I was a kid and later in life I found out that this was the Truth.

Well, the holy and blissful month of Ramadhan always reminds me of my childhood when we as children did not have the nerve to observe a fast of some twelve odd hours yet we were always enthusiastic about fasting, one or the other way. We would get up for Sehri and eat up all we could with sleepy eyes and the feeding hand sometimes going towards the forehead or the nose. It was like that and we had a fun time. There is always a particular blissfulness to Ramadhan and we as kids never failed to feel that. Those were great days and people were free of all fear and terror. No one would get killed while he or she was out to the market and hardly anyone was reported missing. In fact there was a saying that the sky turns red if some blood is shed in the Valley and we all believed in that for it felt like it was an “ultimate truth”. There would be great fervour in the markets and city centres especially when it was time to break the fast, the time for Iftaari. All kinds of thirst quenchers and sweet dishes like “Halwa” and “Phirini” were for out being served against small amounts of money, quite affordable for us kids too. There was peace and certain kind of stillness to the environment even though used to get quite noisy with people chatting out loud and kids shrieking at the highest pitch just for the sake of it. After Sehri we would go for Fajr prayers across the bridge and innocently return home after and hit the bunk. The elders would stay out, mostly chatting and stuff.

We would wake up to bathe and dress up for school if vacations weren’t around. My mother would pack a small lunch for me, mostly consisting of sliced apples and walnuts and sometimes a packet of cookies – I don’t remember the brand but they were called coconut cookies and I loved munching on and on them. Back from school and a proper lunch would be fed to me and my cousins who lived in the same house. Till Iftaari we would have ate plenty and yet hungry for the delicacies that Ramadhan brought along. We were told that we have observed the fast but since we are children we are allowed to have a bite of this and that during the day under the “name and style” of Taapa Sahar – a mini break for mini people. It was a great local intervention and it helped us from being excluded from observing Ramadhan .

The holy month of Ramadhan is here again but the peace and solace is long last. People live in fear and most have developed ulcers and severe diabetic conditions and cannot observe the fast and I believe it is all due to the war like conditions that have persisted in Kashmir for a long time now (I doubt whether I am able enough to calculate the exact time period for the suppression has been there for ages). It is certainly nothing like the old times. People are full of fear. They are terrified and mentally disturbed and obviously under such conditions how can they fully enjoy the blissful month of Ramadhan . To cook the circumstances up bitter than ever the administration is obviously not doing anything to make the people feel better and safer. There are severe power cuts. Numerous localities in the Valley are devoid of drinking water. Black marketing and racketeering is touching novel heights and all this while the administration is sluggishly sleeping. And when people come down on the roads to ask for what rightfully they deserve they are beaten to the pulp and put behind bars. What is the administration thinking? What does it have it in mind? Answers are definitely beyond me. Beyond all this people are being murdered in cold blood. That’s like “wow”. Can they really do that and that too in a “democracy”? I would hate to believe or even acknowledge that for sure.

Now coming back to my childhood years and the blissful month of fasting all I can recall is my favourite reliever – the “Taap Sahar”. What my people in Kashmir need is “Taap Sahar”; obviously not to eat while they are fasting but rather a psychological one – yes, A reliever that would convince them that they have not been excluded from the human race.


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