I stumbled into the world of fasting quite by chance. I was young, 15 or 16, and wanted something that would test my will and resolve. As a New Year resolution, I’d given up watching television the previous year; it wasn’t particularly challenging. So, when a Muslim friend suggested I fast with him in the month of Ramazan, I took it up. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
I write this as I draw to the end of a 56 hour fast. And as I write, I am having a conversation with my body. It is a conversation long due. And one I don’t have quite often. As you might imagine with any such conversation, it is awkward at first, even uncomfortable. Like two people who’ve intimately known each other but drifted apart over time. But as I start talking to me body, I remember, as an old lover might, every aspect of it – the sensitive parts, the hidden nooks that respond to the most subtle of touches. Its pains and its pleasures, its groans and its aches. With time, I get pulled deeper into the conversation, and I feel every sinew whispering to me. I can’t always gather what it says, but it is a relief to be listening at last.
My stomach churns and my conscience is directed at the centre of my body. The cold breeze hits my face and I am acutely aware my shivering self. I walk up the stairs as each step draws energy from my legs. It is beautiful.
As a man, I’ve always wondered if women are aware of their bodies differently. Most of them, for a significant time in their lives, menstruate. Wouldn’t that force a conversation with one’s body? The awareness of its imminence, marked by changes that are unknown to everyone in the world but yourself, must make one listen. If such is indeed the case, then men must talk to their bodies more often. And what I’ve known so far is that such conversations are almost always triggered by discomfort of some sort. The awareness needed to direct your energies within is caused by physical and mental discipline.
And I don’t quite know how to end this. Because half my attention is still within my body. I’ll leave it at that.