Now I may get into trouble for this post by some very conservative people out there, but then I'm not writing to please anyone.
I always laugh out loud whenever I hear stories like these. I come from a very large family and the stories I've heard from my millions of cousins and high school friends will make any law abiding citizen blush, cringe, or laugh. Indians sometimes are too prolific for their own good. I ended up with a large family of my own - 5 kids.
During the month of Ramadan, many people, actually the majority of people welcome the respite from all their daily struggles and seek to find forgiveness, peace and solace with their Lord. Many young children are given the opportunity to wake up with the grown ups and begin their fast for the first time. Many people see this as an opportunity to practice this part of their religion for at least this month. And still there are others seeking to become closer to their lord and try to wring every ounce of goodness they could garner from this month as no one is sure of the future.
Then there are the boys.
Highly debating whether I should continue with this post. I have already spiked your interest, no?
With the abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, comes the night prayers at the masjid. During this month, the sense of family and love and community is very strong. Everyone gathers to break their fast and then stay on for the extra prayers every night. It really is beautiful.
(note to my mom - don't read further)
And as a child in Guyana, these nights always bring back fond memories of friendship, laughter, happiness, a little bit of matchmaking, passing love notes, and old ladies giving us the stink eye because we couldn't stop the giggling. And the sneaking out from under moms' stern and watchful eye to meet ..... ahem!
But I think the boys had it best.
In every masjid right now in the world. I seriously doubt that I am wrong. There is a line at the very back filled with young boys who purposely go to masjid for things other than dutifully performing their prayers. Call it the channeling of Tom Sawyer or the Huckleberry Finn Syndrome, these boys are not interested in the spiritual benefits of prayers. Be they ages fourteen to eighteen, and sometimes the occasional thirty something.
Their soul purpose is to purposely disturb the prayers of the older men who take the night prayers to heart. They will out prank Ashton Kutcher any night of the week. And they would come out smelling like a rose as no one would give up anyone. And the older men had no way of proving who did it even if their suspicions greatly outweigh the innocent looks of suddenly quiet praying boys.
Pranks I know they played:
1. spit balls suddenly flying through the air aimed at upraised bottoms
2. tying prostrating feet together
3. pulling down loose pants
4. rubbing coal on the carpet right where white clothed bottoms will sit
5. starting a wave in the line by pushing from the ends
There are more risque ones they played, but I'll stop here. Almost every night came with reminders to the boys to their purpose in the masjid. And every night, there would be at least one irate patron who is so offended by the boys' behavior that he would be in favor of banning the boys from masjid or better yet send them over to the women's section (which might have been the boys' ultimate goal).
There was almost always some older men who defended the boys, "Hey, they're in the masjid, leave them alone". "Have you forgotten when you were their age?"
They would continue to pray and keep a watchful eye on the boys. Some even went as far as to join the boys and sit amongst them to curtail the "nonsense". But their political aspirations would prove too much and they would end praying up front as babysitting a bunch of little boys wouldn't get them the position they wanted.
Most of these boys do eventually grow up to become fine upstanding, productive members of society with a great love for their religion. They become Hafiz, Imams, scholars in Islam, doctors, pharmacists, bosses, lawyers, teachers, farmers, business men and great fathers themselves and contributors to the Muslim community.
And I bet they all carry fond memories of when they were boys in Ramadan. Just ask any of them.