We took a walk along the Ganges River on the last day of Ramadan. The weather had turned cooler, and the usual crowds were missing because everyone was home breaking the fast. The sun was setting over the river. A little boat poled its way along the edge. Rainy season has ended and now the river is going down. Soon there will be miles of sand and bullrushes instead of water. We shared the dirt path with cows and a few men out exercising, and we passed a group sitting on a bench preparing to break the fast together over a pile of puffed rice and chilis laid out on a newspaper. As the sun went down, we noticed the clouds of bugs rising from the ground as the birds swooped down for a snack. We saw the doyel, the Bangladeshi national bird, and surprise! an owl, with it’s small round head and huge eyes looking at us.

The call to prayer sounded, and the firecrackers soon joined in. Someone had seen the moon! The month of Ramadan ends when the moon is seen. This year the calendars had predicted the 12th, and everyone had been out looking for the moon that evening, but no luck. The neighborhood had been all silent as people got ready for another day of fasting. But tonight we passed a group of men, peering and pointing up into the sky. “I can see it! Look at that small sliver, right above the tree! Do you see it?” We saw it too, a tiny white sliver in the pink sky.

On the rickshaw ride back, little crowds were out peering into the twilight sky. The men were buying meat from roadside butchers and little boys were shooting off firecrackers. Several people passed us on bikes, pots of sweet curd hanging from their handlebars. When the electricity went off, the sky’s last light peaked round the trees, and the little lanterns hanging under the rickshaws twinkled and swung as they rounded the corners.

Advertisements