The scorching sun shone over Karim’s eyes, it blinded him temporarily. He could feel his chubby dimpled cheeks becoming hot and pulsating with the heat. He could feel the perspiration trickling down his forehead and along the furrow between his eyes, the cracks on his parched lips. He could feel the long rumbles and slow moans in his belly. Yet, he was still 4 hours away before breaking fast. Time really slows down during Ramadhan.
Home seemed an eternity away. He really was not in the mood for walking home from school. He mumbled something under his breath, maybe he grumbled? Maybe he cursed? Who knows?
He threw his bag onto the sofa as he entered his humble abode. The nose-piercing yet fragrant smell of his Mum’s ‘Gulai Tempoyak’ settled in his nose. It was like a shot of heroine, addictive. He dragged his limp weak body to the couch.
He inhaled deep, careful not to miss any details in the myriad of aromas lingering heavily in the air.
‘Ahh,’ Karim inhaled and sniffed the pungent mouth-watering scent of ‘tempoyak’. A hint of caramelizing sugar and sourness of milk, perhaps cheesecake(because he heard the noisy sound of the oven)? There was also a salty and oily aroma, ikan masin? And another smell, sour too, yet it was more humid, more like rotting, with a little hint of Nivea. Oh, it was his armpits. Karim scrambled to take his shower and prayers done.
He could feel a void forming in his tummy. But soon he managed to coax himself to his evening nap. He dreamt of ‘nasi kerabu’, ‘lai chi kang’, and surprisingly, Nivea too.
‘I’m home!’, the familiar voice awoke him, Dad has just got back from work. Karim took a curious peek at the things that Abah had brought in his hand. ‘Could it be?’ he whispered, while swallowing his saliva(he didn’t know it was ‘makruh’), Mak Long’s famous Bandung Kick? The heavenly pink creamy liquid with a generous splash of Ice Cream Soda added. He then hasted ecstatically to help his parents to set the table.
As the voice of the local ‘Bilal’ echoed throughout the neighborhood, Karim slurped some ice-cold Bandung Kick, gobbled up a piece of peach cheesecake, then moved on to a generous helping of rice topped with ‘gulai pucuk masak tempoyak’ and a few crunchy salted fish. He ate his fill, then sat back. He wanted more, the feel of emptiness was still lurking in him. He had to do it, he had been holding it back for the whole day.
He stood up and went into the toilet sink, careful to close the door behind him, he took a finger (this time, he used his pinky), and filled it in his nasal cavity.
With eyes shut, he enjoyed and indulged the sweet soothing feeling he achieved by this gross yet satisfying act. He took the finger and grinned as the greenish brown residue on his fingers were washed away by the flowing water, satisfactorily godly. Looks like Ramadhan has its ups and downs after all.