Sunday, May 22, 2022

Ramadan for PJ’s urban poor

While Ramadan is one of the biggest events on the Muslim calendar, it marks no break for families like Kak Nani's which continue their daily struggle to put food on the table.

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Kak Yani, a single mother whose husband died of a heart attack two years ago, sits in her cramped living room surrounded by her family’s meagre belongings.

Left to bring up her three children alone, she now runs an online business, sorting through the stock which adds to the clutter in their tiny housing unit.

Kak Yani and her daughter, Izzah, do what they can to mark the month of Ramadan but their financial constraints make this difficult.

Izzah sorts through bottles of soya sauce and ketchup – the only condiments available in the small kitchen.

Lacking wardrobe space, the family members hang their clothes on hooks behind the bedroom doors instead.

Sheets of paper containing phone numbers and the details of Kak Yani’s online business are taped to the wall beneath several drawings done by her youngest child.

Izzah looks out through the window which is missing a pane at the sunset which marks the breaking of fast for Muslims during the Ramadan month.

While there is not much to eat, Izzah and her youngest brother, Zulkarnain, still enjoy the bright colours of the sunset.

Their brother, Hakimi, reads an e-book on his phone while he waits to break his fast. He loves history but is not always able to access books to read on the subject.

Izzah heads to the kitchen to help her mother prepare the evening meal.

Kak Yani carries a bowl of rice out to her children who wait in the tiny living area.

She and Izzah lay out the family’s simple meal on a mat on the floor.

Kak Yani leads the family in prayer as the azan sounds outside their housing unit.

Then they tuck into the food, some of which was given by neighbours and friends.

Zulkarnain performs the maghrib prayer after breaking his fast.

Outside, the sun continues to set over the neighbourhood, including the school which the children attend. Kak Yani often thinks about returning to her home town in Dungun, Terengganu, but is determined to stay in Petaling Jaya until her children have completed their studies.

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