A Ramadan homecoming

A Ramadan homecoming

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

This year, the Ramadan season has merged with the holiday seasons in other foreign countries, although not by intention or design but by the parallel twist of the lunar and solar cycles. This integration has created a migratory pattern similar to birds and other animals, as expatriate parents leave the Kingdom in droves to celebrate their holidays in foreign lands with their families and offspring.

Many Saudi students in foreign colleges and universities fortunate to have finished their school year return to their home country to be united with their parents. Once through Immigration at the airport, these students have to put up with the annoying and often tedious wait for their baggage, eagerly and impatiently anticipating the warm embrace of their loved ones in the arrivals hall.

Unlike birds, however, this crisscross traffic serves the purpose of uniting families with their loved ones. This cycle of migration allows Saudi students studying abroad to keep in touch with their community and culture.

Saudi students, after the initial welcomes, use this time to relax. After all, there is a lot to appreciate about being home again. Their get-together at the family dining table during the breaking of the fast, and their devotion to the demands of the holy month serve to bring families together. An Umrah trip to Makkah is usually high on their list of priorities.

There are also great comforts in being at home. For one, there is maid service on demand, a luxury not so evident in their places of learning. They can experience the simple joys of being served and not having to fret about cooking, dirty dishes, doing the laundry or any other housework that interferes with those endless demands on the life of a teenager.

Ramadan also affords these youngsters the opportunity to deviate from their regimented sleeping patterns, and go to bed just as the sun begins to rise, which is not an uncommon occurrence with these youths. The frenzy of energy that bursts through the veins and propels these kids during the school year is but a faint memory among the hardiest of parents.

Phone circuits are in constant use, as these young people use the opportunity to catch up on the latest gossip. The children who were cautioned on and exercised fiscal responsibility while studying abroad show no such constraints while here. Daddy and Mommy are here with an unlimited expense account. Some of the smarter kids hoard some of the excess funds like chipmunks, dutifully saving it for the lean months when they return back to school.

And what about the family car? You might as well forget about it during their short stay here. Errands have to be planned meticulously and household needs catered for much earlier in the day when the children are asleep. With a social calendar crammed full during their holiday stay here, the young are constantly on the move. Parents have to fight their way into the busy schedule just to have some quality time.

Once the sun sets and after a quick bite to break their fasts, the boys are out cruising for reunions with their friends, while the girls reach for the phone to plan their evening and do the same. Pity the family driver who suddenly finds himself in a bustle of activity after months of relaxation and leisure. It is indeed in times like these that he truly earns his salary.

And with all that goes on, there is much joy within the family. The young birds have returned to their nests, even if for such a short time.

The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena