This essay was written by a student at Mighty Writers, an education nonprofit that offers free writing classes to over 2,500 inner-city Philadelphia students a year.
"Aminah, are you sure you're ready for this?" said my brother. I started to worry, but I ignored him.
"No! I want to start fasting!" I said cheerfully. But, let me say this: the last meal will be your last. I wish I knew this before I started fasting for the first time. I'm going to share my experience with fasting during Ramadan as my vivid memory. It was my first time and I was excited. But after a while, I learned that you should be grateful and patient.
It all started five years ago during Ramadan. Ramadan is a holiday that Muslims celebrate. We are supposed to fast during the day and break our fast when the sun sets. I was feeling very jovial because I was ready to start fasting. I went to my mom's room and begged her to let me start fasting. She wasn't sure but she said, "Sure, but I don't wanna hear any complaining." I was determined and I didn't care how hard it would be. I wish I knew that it was difficult at first.
The first few hours, I felt fine. I didn't think of food or even cared. After three hours, I was done! I yearned for the taste of food. My senses were stronger than ever before. I felt like I was smelling food from every direction. I smelled tacos, burgers, grilled chicken, and more. I was about to have a breakdown. I complained more than anyone in the world. I was ready to give up.
"MOM! Can I please have food! I need food!" I yelped as I slammed myself on the floor. I was desperate for any taste of food. She sat me down and gave me a long talk.
"Aminah Muhammad! You should be grateful! There are people out there who want what you have! A soft bed, warm meals, and good education is what not all people have!" I felt bad for acting so rude and disrespectful. I should've at least shown some courtesy. So after that, I remained quiet and focused in order to finish fasting. I kept myself busy and tried to focus on other things. I played games with my siblings and read my favorite books. After that, it was time to break fast and I had a feast. I felt like I won a race. It was a big accomplishment. When I took a bite out of the food, I saw unicorns.
The last meal will be your last, so you should be grateful. You should remember that there are people out there who don't have what you have. A warm blanket, food, television, and a nice bed. We should be kind and grateful because we are blessed.
By Aminah Muhammad, 8th grade Mighty Writer
top photo: "Iftar at home" by Raasiel via Flickr Creative Commons
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Mighty Writers was founded in 2009 with the mission to teach kids to think clearly and write with clarity. The organization offers free programs for students from elementary through high school at centers in four diverse Philadelphia neighborhoods, including one bilingual location for Spanish-speaking students. Follow Mighty Writers at MightyWriters.org, on Facebook, and on Twitter @MightyWriters.