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Salma Abdelgawad

Sleepy Salma: “I can’t accept this.”



By Wael Abdelgawad |

We’re in the middle of the Muslim month of Ramadan, during which we fast from dawn to sunset. My daughter Salma, who will be eleven soon, is fasting her second year. I wake her up very early each morning – around 3 am – to have suhoor, which is the pre-dawn meal. Then she goes back to sleep.

Last night I had a hard time waking her up. Finally she sat up in bed, her eyes half-lidded, and took the small cup of mac and cheese I offered her. She sat there with it in her lap, and her eyes closed again.

“Salma,” I prodded. “Eat your food, honey.”

She peers at it, eyes still half closed. “What is it?”

“Mac and cheese.”

“I can’t accept this.”


“I can’t accept this.” She hands it back to me.

“Why not?”

“Because I’m fasting.” Whereupon she throws herself back down on the bed and goes back to sleep.

I woke her up again and insisted she eat. She finally ate about five spoonfuls, and downed a glass of cherry 7-up and some water.

She had no memory of these events the next day.