Tirana, Albania, years' 80.
Once "stolen" from the kitchen of my house five or six "japrakë”From the pot in which my mother had prepared the lunch that day, I walked to my grandmother's house. I wanted to bring and share with her something good and just prepared by her mother, as I knew among other things that the "japrakë"The grandmother liked them so much. It was about rolls of vine leaves, with a typical bitter taste and a filling of rice and spices.
The grandmother lived alone in a house not far from ours.
I climbed the stairs with the japrakë in an envelope and as soon as I saw my grandmother, I told her: "Look what I brought you, your favorite specialty, taste them right away, you'll see that you'll like them very much! "
My grandmother, touched by my affectionate gesture, the effect of which was multiplied by my age - at the time I was less than ten years old, I believe - without wanting to offend me and very gently, she said to me: "Leave them in the kitchen, my darling, but you know that your grandmother can't taste them right now, even if I want to make you happy and pay you back for this beautiful thing of yours?"
"But as a grandmother, you do not feel well, you are not hungry, do you not like japrakë anymore? "- was my reaction.
" But of course I like my dear, - she always replied with great affection, but perhaps you do not remember well my custom, which I also told you about. That belief of mine that I always carry within me for a lifetime, in the name of which, finding myself in this particular month, at this precise moment, I cannot eat."
Therefore, one of my two grandmothers was a Muslim and the month of Ramadan, the month in which the Koran was revealed, occurred. She was in the period of the Sacred Fast. In the month of prayer and almsgiving. Although, I must admit, I was a little worried about the effect of this practice on her health, but she didn't even care about the health problems in those days.
"It's not just your japrakë that I don't eat, but you know I can't eat anything right now. And another thing: you know what a great smoker I am and how much it also costs me to have to stop smoking these days, but I do it willingly, with the hope of purifying myself, of feeling good now and in the future. I can't eat now, but at sunset, yes ..."
From the enthusiasm and the hurry I had missed this detail, not only because I had run away from the desire to get to my grandmother as soon as possible without warning my mother, but also because I remembered that this anniversary, the previous time, had taken place in another period , with a difference of at least ten days ... Of course, I should have known that the dates of Ramadan and, consequently, of the Fasting, did not coincide from one year to another and that the new Moon, in this, had a fundamental role .
Well, from that age onwards I began to clarify the situation better because of the plot in the family of beliefs and customs. Situation in which, for a child who lived with relatives of two different religions, the Christian and the Muslim, lived in the house, some small misunderstandings were understandable.
Ours - and not only that of our family, but also of many other Albanian families - had always been a peaceful coexistence between religions. There was respect for the faith of each one, for the respective rites and tradition, although faith was not practiced openly and places of worship were not attended, but faith, within the soul of each one, was kept in silence and with due dedication, sharing with each other the joy of their beliefs, even without necessarily referring to their content.
"Okay grandma, I told her, - i japrakë that i brought you feeds as soon as you can. So, good Ramadan! ","Gëzuar Bajramin"- and started for home ...
There, I found my parents who were still finishing their lunch.
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