In our group, I am the youngest female pilgrim. The next youngest is 62 years old. And my husband is of course the youngest male pilgrim and the one just above him is 66 years old. All of them are Makkah and Madinah veterans, all of them have been spending Ramadan here every year since they retired. One Pakcik is on his 26th Ramadan in Makkah since retirement. All of them are of course, curious as to what are these two 30 somethings doing in their league. Long story lah Makcik, I always say.
Being not from their age group, we hardly spend time with them other than at meal times and while waiting for the vans to take us to tanah halal to take our miqat for umrah. But meal times are a plenty throughout the night and from these meal times, we seep in their nuggets of wisdom about life, worship, careers (most of them are retired teachers btw). It is then that I realised that physical energy is a whole lot of different game than spiritual energy. On paper it looks awesome for both of us, youth on our side, fit, martial artists and a tinge of air of well-travelled smugness somewhere above our heads. But in reality, these senior citizens, in their 70s and a couple of early 80s, are fuelled by spiritual adrenaline that smack down both of us flat on our faces.
They have no qualms fasting in the desert summer sun, long hours and extreme weather. They breeze through umrah rituals as though it was just a walk in the park, they battle the crowd expertly for the 5 obligatory prayers in a day, bearing in mind walking to Masjidil Haram and back to our hotel on a low hill, to me, is like a mini bootcamp. Try to do that while fasting. They even do regular tawaf and all the sunnah prayers, throw in Qiyamulail. Did they just morphed into Duracell bunnies upon reaching here or what?
One nenek, 80 years old told me, “Entah nenek ni tahun depan ada lagi ke tidak… Ni tengah prepare nak balik lah ni…Balik asal” she said with a cheeky grin. As I sit down and think about her words, jangan cakap nenek ni, kalau besok aku dippangil balik, sudah ke aku bersedia seperti mereka?