The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

Day 6 Finding the Olympic and Ramadhan Spirit

It’s the night before the day we have been anticipating for seven years. The Olympic opening ceremony is just hours away now and I’m surprised at myself how unprepared I was in making the most of this unique event of a world class event taking place on my doorstep. I am beginning to wonder about my own level of motivation and practical ability. My head is in the clouds far too much and not much translates to reality. I suppose you have at some point got to get to the stage where being brutally honest with yourself and your short comings if you want to move on and improve. So yes I know it might seem a bit out of proportion to be cutting yourself up about failing to get tickets to the Opening ceremony but then again I’m seeing that as as indication of my lack of  pre-plalning, organisation and focus.

Then again this deep soul searching and self criticism is related to a personal situation and I am aware that. Failing to get a ticket to the Opening Ceremony is not about me missing out – I’ll watch it on the TV. It’s for my brother. He’s a 24 year old sports mad student and a devotee to martial arts. Two weeks ago he was diagnosed with end stage renal failure. It feels weird to even write the words-like I’m writing about someone else and not the youngest, funniest and nicest one of us amongst the Ahsan family siblings. His only current option is a renal transplant which we are preparing for. But since the news has broken, life has been suspended into a weird sort of bubble. Carefree, spontaneous thinking has gone. Planning, waiting and worrying have taken its’s place. 

Seeing all the athletes defeating the odds stacked against them in both the Olympics and the Paralympics is something to inspire those facing their own personal battles. I am now kicking myself for not having planned somehow to get him further involved. He’s a Games Maker and will be working within he Olympic Village. I hope he get’s the buzz and absorbs the atmosphere so that it can sustain him over the next couple of months. I am contemplating writing to Lord Coe and SIr Steve Redgrave to ask for advice and words of encouragement for my brother – on how to overcome the barriers placed in the way of everyone including Olympians.

To be honest, the Olympics taking place now have been a positive thing in our family’s adjustment to this news. Not only is it a once in a lifetime moment here in East London-right on our doorstep; it’s also an important part of helping my brother in these early stages of his two week old diagnosis of stage 5 renal failure-that means the worst kind only properly fixed by a transplant or if that fails to happen, dialysis. Both options are life changing events. The Olympics, I hope, will offer a distraction as he get’s ready to be a Games Maker. They will offer an atmosphere of excitement, electricity and hope. And finally a time to be inspired and to get that input of positive energy-to take a bite of that human spirit which at it’s best can overcome all. I really believe in that.

My brother wants to know if he will still be able to train and compete in ju jitsu. I am worrying about his life on immunosuppressants and steroids and praying that my kidney is a match. I am glad that he is worrying more about his sport than the other stuff because it’s important to not loose yourself in such times. As Muslims we believe that God only tests us with things we can bear. 

It’s also a really important time because it’s Ramadhan. As the days have been rolling along and we are about to start the fast for Day 7 in about 20 minutes, I have been pondering events. If there was ever a time to have to deal with this issue and to seek some support, then I would take it as a blessing that these challenges have fallen in the month of Ramadhan. It was something my good friend and fellow crazy girl, Karima said to me that made me confirm this thought. She’s a kindred spirit in most things but the main one being our unconventional lives. 

‘Don’t waste a moment of this month. All these things have happened now – maybe it’s a indication of Allah’s mercy.’

And so readers-yes this is my spiritual side coming out. Even though I might not show it much – it’s buried in there. It might be something to do with the Arabic call to prayer which is playing in the background for Fajr-the morning prayer at 3.28am or it might be that now after six days of fasting I’m adjusting to the true meaning of Ramadhan. It’s not just an exercise in starvation or not drinking for hours and hours. It’s a month of prayer and re-connecting with God. And with this current situation with my brother and his failing kidneys, there’s little else I can truly rely on. And I’m a doctor realising that.

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