Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Miss you, mom: Spending Ramadan together through a screen

April 26, 2020 – Third Sehri of the month. My mom offers her Tarawih prayers. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

Muslims around the world are currently observing the month of Ramadan where they fast for 29 to 30 days, depending on lunar sightings.

I have always been at home during this month and my mom and I were always together during Sehri and Iftar time. About 3 years ago, I finally told my parents I was agnostic and didn’t believe in Islam. During that same period, my dad announced he didn’t believe in God and that left my mom being the only practicing Muslim in our house. When Ramadan came she would have to do everything alone and in order for my mom to feel supported, I used to wake up with her at Sehri time and also was with her during Iftar. We talked, ate and just enjoyed this bonding time together.

This is the first Ramadan we are spending apart, I am in New York City and she is in Karachi, Pakistan, and it is an emotional moment for the both of us. Given the time we live in, I can still be a part of my mom’s fasting routine by joining her for Sehri and Iftar through the screen. The time difference between Karachi and NYC is 9 hours. Sehri time in Pakistan starts around 4am which is 7 p.m. in NYC and Iftar time is at 7pm there and that’s 10 a.m. here.  I have tried to document her observing Ramadan while I support her and eat my normal food with her through Zoom video call.

Her usual Sehri is really healthy. So she starts her day with copious amounts of coffee, she alternates between cereal or peanut butter sandwiches. This is a shift from usual Sehri foods being parathas and eggs. She likes having a light healthy Sehri to keep her active throughout the day.

For Iftar, she usually loves fruits and dahi baray but also sometimes makes samosas and pakoray, which are really common during Iftar back home.

I, on the other hand, am between places and all of my cookware is packed. So, most of my meals are takeaways and deliveries or just snacks.

A few days ago she told me “I was feeling sad when I thought about Ramadan but my fasts have been so easy and pleasant because of you”. Hearing her say that made my day.

April 24, 2020 – First Sehri of the month. Mom: Cereal and peanut butter sandwich, Me: Rice Krispies Treats and a Nutella sandwich. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 25, 2020 – First Iftar of the month. Mom: Samosas, Me: Cream Cheese Bagel. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 25, 2020 – Second Sehri of the month. Mom: offers Tarawih. Me: channa masala and rice with Pepsi. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 25, 2020 – Second Sehri of the month. Mom: Coffee in her favourite Starbucks mug, Me: channa masala and rice with pepsi. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 26, 2020 – Second Iftar of the month. Mom: Dates, fruits and pakoray. Me: Bagel with egg and cheese. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 26, 2020 – Second Iftar of the month. Mom: Pours Sprite. Me: Bagel with egg and cheese. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 26, 2020 – Third Sehri of the month. Mom: Cereal, coffee and butter. Me: chicken tikka and rice. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 27, 2020 – Fourth Sehri of the month. Mom: offers Tarawih. Me: Mcdonald’s egg Mcmuffin. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 27, 2020 – Fourth Sehri of the month. Mom: Coffee. Me: Mcdonald’s egg Mcmuffin. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

April 28, 2020 – Fourth Iftar of the month. Mom: Dates, fruits, dahi baray and cat food for my cat. Me: Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. Photo by Maznah Shehzad

This is a project of  Lori Grinker’s  NYU graduate photojournalism class.




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