A couple of months ago in a post that began as one thing but ended up being about my dry cleaner, I wrote about how her husband kept telling her that he wanted her to have nice hands and how this frustrated her because she worked too hard to have nice hands.
It reminded me of a dance that went on for years between my mum and dad, who’d also come here as immigrants.
I promised myself I’d buy my dry cleaner some really good nail polish and give it to her, and today I did. When I entered the shop she was sitting at a sewing machine, head covered in a shawl. I’d never seen her in a head scarf before and wondered at the reason for it but didn’t ask.
I gave her the polish. Hot pink. I explained why and she laughed, said she loved the colour, asked how much she owed me and I said, no, that it was a gift. She was surprised and delighted and then told me it was the first day of Ramadan. She said it’s especially hard when it falls at this time of year because of all that daylight stretching late into the evening. The month-long fast, which includes no food OR water or anything, ends each day when the sun goes down and begins again when it rises. Much better in November, she said. Even March is good.
She normally walks an hour to work but for the next month she’ll be getting a ride. I was happy to hear it given the humidity and heat.
I said I hadn’t realized Ramadan began today, that it was just a fluke I came in, but that I was thrilled to be able to offer some small thing to mark the day and happy to have learned something so wonderful and I thanked her for that. She smiled, said she’d pray for me.