After the joy of iftar, sahur becomes a chore; having to get up at 4.00am in the morning (for In) and to take food at the early hours. However Sahur is a great Sunnah and the Prophet had enjoined sahur as a blessed act and one that differentiate Islamic and other religious practices on fasting;
"Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, "(Make sure to) have your sahur meal, for sahur is blessed." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)"
`Amr ibn Al-`Aas quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, "The difference between our fasting and that of the People of the Book is the sahur meal." (Muslim)
In Kuantan, Imsak starts at 5:38am. Since we were afraid to miss Sahur, 4.00am seemed the right time to get up and prepare food and partake sahur at around 4.45am. Latter we found that it was too early and shift back by half an hour. Since the Nasi Kerabu left over was quite substantial, we resigned ourself to another bout of it, albeit at lesser quantity with some kuehs to help the dwindled appetite.
The sight of us getting up for sahur must be quite comical.. heavy eyes and tired body from lack of sleep, each a pantomine of oneself. Somehow my ankle joint suffers since a week before fasting and carried on to Ramadhan. Coming down the stairs a foot at a time; In said I looked like a mother just giving birth. Izzah was ok, easy to wake up and in fact easier to wake up for sahur than for waking up for school before this.
At this time I remembered my time at kampung. Those days before electricity. Waking up in the dark (dark means exactly that!!!).. groping for matches to light up the `pelita ayam'. Then padding gingerly on the wooden floor to the kitchen lighted only by the dim light from the 'pelita ayam' fueled by kerosene. Then we light up a few more 'pelita ayam' to give some light. In this semi darkness, mek (that's what we call mummy) prepared the sahur meal.
Those days the neighbours help to awaken each other. A loud bang on the wooden wall with a yell of 'Sahur..sahur' was a welcomed intrusion.. well until latter when alarm clocks were in the markets and each household have have it as a must item. At one time we were awaken by a loud bang on the wall. Looking up at the grandpa's clock I (yess..we have a big one at the main pillar of the house and it became my duty to wind the spring of the clock), it was 2.00am and when we shouted "baru pukul 2 pagi", the neighbour profusely apologised... Sometimes we just heard "weh..wehh.. bangun doh ko??" rather than a bang on the wall..
Heyy..come to think of it, I was the one who wound up the clock, light up the kerosene lamp and fill up the water in the big tempayan at the 'jemoran' at the back, even drumming the beduk at the 'balaisah'... What was my brother doing then..??? Hmm.. I wonder... hmm... What is apparent is that I had no grudge at all.. in fact this only cross my mind just now....
I remember a night when Mek woke up late.. about 5.00am and the imsak was at 5.30am. With all 'four hands' she just burned the rice (cook with big flame), fry some fish, and single handedly prepared the sahur in nick of time.. That night the whole of neighbourhood missed sahur except us..
When I was older I stayed with my sister in Kota Bharu. My Brother-in-Law (late BIL) whom we affectionately called abang was a believer in late sahur and we breached imsak most of the time, stopping only whee minutes from the subuh azan. I learned latter that this is more in line to the practices of The Prophet. I liked it there..