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9/20/09 Mbruk l'3id!

Today was the last day of Ramadan. Until last night, nobody was sure whether or not today would be the 3id, the Festival marking the end of the holy month. It all depends on whether or not certain holy men can make out the sliver of the newborn moon. If they see it, and know that a new month has begun, they announce the 3id. If they don't see it, they don't make the call, and we fast for one more day.

The latter happened last night - I suspect the heavy clouds might have hindered the moon-spotting, but that's just a guess - so today we got one last day to fast.

That meant that tonight was my last l-ftor, my final fast-breaking sunset meal.

My host family served bread, dates, juice, shebbekia, tea, and harira - all the traditional foods, but didn't have any fatbread since the oven is on the blink. Ah, fatbread. I'll miss you.

Last year, I spent the night before an 3id at my host family's house. I think it was 3id l-Adha, not 3id l-Ftor, but I don't actually remember. Might have been both.

Ama wanted me to do the same again tonight, but I resisted. "You want to put henna on your hands for the 3id, right?" she asked.

"Yes, of course."

"So why don't you stay here tonight. I'll put on the henna and you can just fall asleep here." I smiled faintly. She pressed on, "Once you have henna on your hands, you can't open your door or take off your clothes or anything." I nodded. Anyone who's had henna, or even anyone with a good imagination, understands how having mud-coated hands makes all sorts of tasks practically impossible. "So maybe you should stay here tonight," she concluded.

I shrugged and said, "Maybe."

"Or, of course, you could go home. I could put some henna in a bowl for you and you could put it on yourself."

I nodded. "That sounds like a good idea."

"Or you could stay here. Your room is ready, you could just sleep here in your nice bed."

I shrugged again. "Or I could go home, with a bowl of henna."

"Right, you could go home. I could fix you a bowl of henna, no problem. That would be fine. They're both fine. Whatever you want is fine. But you know, if you want, you could stay here."

"I think it makes more sense to go home."

"Right, or you could stay here. I'd put henna on your hands, you could just fall asleep..."

"Yeah, or I could go home."

"Whatever you want is fine. It's all the same to me. But you could stay here, if you want."

"Or I could go home."

"Whatever you want. It's your choice. I don't care. But, you know, you could stay here."

And on. And on. And on. I could have caved, but I really did want to go home. I didn't have any clean clothes (or toothbrush or contact stuff or, y'know, *anything*) with me. Plus, I had big plans for emailing and such.

Ultimately, she did prepare henna for me - dried henna + water + a splash of tea, mixed till it reaches the right consistency - and hand me the bowl. She reminded me repeatedly to put it on, let it dry, then wrap my hands before bed. I promised her I would, and headed home.

After taking care of my computer-related needs, I changed into PJs, took care of teethbrushing/contacts/etc, made sure I didn't need my hands for *anything*else*, and then slathered it on. Turns out applying henna is harder than it looks, especially if you're trying to get a mostly-even layer (so the resulting orange stain will be equally dark across your whole hand). I thought I'd finished when I remembered my fingernails. The traditional henna look should cover your entire palm, fingertips, and fingernails. So I buried my fingers half an inch or so into the bowl, re-evened-out the layer of henna mud, and then entertained myself for an hour while waiting for them to dry. (Read: Watched DVDs on my laptop, using my nose and elbow to work the controls.) Then I wrapped myself up in plastic and crawled carefully into bed.

Visions of cookies dancing in my head...

Mbruk l-3id, everyone! :D

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