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Ramadan at NUST

  It is remarkable how a routine walk can almost every time, present you with so many striking stories that await the bystander’s attention. Perhaps one’s gargling stomach under the increasingly scorching sun invites a lot of outwardly projected focus, (Not perhaps, surely). For over a year and a half, I’ve walked almost every morning (On a fuller stomach, I run as well.) from my hostel down the main roads to C-1, Indus loop, Administration block, and then C-2 (Now that I’ve disclosed my trajectory, I pray I am not followed).  Each of these pitstops has told me loads of different stories. None of them, however, speak a more intriguing tale than my journey down this path with parched lips, a foggy brain, and a collapsing stomach, in the month of Ramadan.

                Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. There is a lot to unpack in this statement, especially when you are obligated to put aside two-thirds of your day fasting. Suddenly the idea of shaking myself up from a slumber is the most cruel thing, followed by the plethora of tasks that need to be carried out routinely (If it’s a weekend, I have a much harder time convincing myself to be disciplined). Everyone droops and falters in their gait, and some doors in the hallway remain horrifyingly shut. Sometimes, you regret walking towards the sink (Reasons I’ll discuss later on). Some still show up, however much strained and fatigued, they lean over their books and laptops studying for the Mids. These are the sorts that put me back on track too. Their faces portray scenes of silent pats on the back offered and received in exchange for outwardly indifferent eye contact. 

                 This halt, or lag for use of a better word, is not limited however mostly to the students like myself. One morning, maybe it was the first day of Ramadan or the second, I carried out my routine walk when towards the end, my desperately bored eyes set on two men near the South Edge Cafe (It’s the most beautiful place at night, if you stop by get their Chai its supreme). And that’s when a realization came to me. The roads, sidewalks, and grounds were still being promptly shaped up around six in the morning, almost as if the preconditions of lethargy simply do not apply to the men who undertake this responsibility. So when I’m staring at my running shoes for ten minutes, holding onto my stomach… contemplating every decision I’ve made, someone who wouldn’t cross the periphery of my attention gracefully gets up and allows me to view this remarkable chunk of land in its pure, raw beauty. This goes for every man and woman on the campus who is on duty. To the men who are setting off building in the night, the friendly wardens who are almost as shocked to see me walk out that hostel door at six thirty every morning. All these people deserve a lot of praise for doing what they do. 

                 Hunger and thirst puts a burden on not just one’s body but their mind as well. It plays all sorts of tricks on you. Everything puts you on edge, you are chemically operating on a different level and before you know it you are frowning and slouching at every bit of work you have to do. At Nust however, as far as my experience goes the most challenging part is having mess. (haha, there… I finally said it.). All the respect to the people who arrange three meals for us every day. The problem isn’t the food, it’s the quality for most kids among myself. I have an evidential story to share, but before I do… let me just put a disclaimer here. If you are not okay reading some graphic details involving projectile vomiting… log off and have a nice day. Thank you. 

                  So, it was a Thursday. You’d expect the eggs on the menu to be any color other than blue, but surprise. They weren’t. My friend courageously ate the eggs while my skeptical mind couldn’t bring myself to finish half of it. My gut told me it was time to pop a Motilium and call it a night (Many nights are saved by that miracle medicine in suppressing your vomiting reflex. Bummer, the girl I had the chance to meet the next morning could’ve used it at the right time). The aftermath was brutal. No man on the cleaning staff deserved to see that god-awful scene in the bathroom. The events leading up to that could have a lot of factors, but I do not put all responsibility on the management. But I do ask to make regular checks on why the food isn’t in its optimal condition. The poor girl who ended up getting sick had her exams too probably. I have personally lost weight dramatically, as a result of simply losing my appetite, which is sadly the case for many other hostelites. We’ve often joked as a group contemplating our parent’s reaction to having a mess meal (Not many scenarios align with what the management would hope).

                   Aside from the mess stories, which do not end here sadly. I want to take some time to talk about some places that really call out to the masses on Nust grounds post-aftar. One of them is surely the notoriously spooky yet classy road down C2. Many a time, you can hear ominous sounds that are hard to place on an animal’s face. Imagination really trails from it being a squealing beetle to a hyena. Moreover, I find true appreciation held within the hearts of surely all hostelites in the comfort of feeling safe within the campus walls. Students, sometimes residents can be seen enjoying the night skies and long walks. I most recently had the privilege of encountering a young couple rolling their toddler down the road near C1, it is safe to say that restores my faith in humanity every time. Another place to definitely stop by is yet again the most recent reinvention of Margala as South Edge Cafe. It really gives you the best view of the city lights past sunset. It is even more endearing during sunrise, in my opinion, if you’re one of them early birds.

                   All in all, Ramadan in Nust is hard to draw down in a single piece. It involves everything from having to prepare for midterms while you can barely decide on getting out of bed, to feeling ecstatic having chai late at night. This is not at all a critique, rather it is an appreciation post for people who are bringing equilibrium to our lives when times are hard and uncertain and require every bit of extra effort to fulfill the reason many of us came here for. Every moment spent on campus after school hours is worth the urge to join hands and quit on mess. But hey, it’s a time for patience and extending good intentions and thoughts out into the world. In the end, I would like to extend my end of gratitude for what privilege I have as a Nustian, even if I’m miles away from home and the conventional Ma kay hath ki roti. I am grateful I have so much to give thanks for still. Pass a smile to someone you see trying a little extra hard to go through the day, and hug and pull the leg of your roommate or sibling (I would give anything to do that right now). Make sure you hold space for people in this month and lastly, remember the Palestinian brothers and sisters who are the epitome of what Taqwah and Ramadan stands for. Until next time. 



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