The Sun Will Still Rise, but So Will The Moon

Ramadan is a spiritual experience. Trying to capture Ramadan in isolation has been a unique process in which I have been trying to reflect the image of life that is imposed on us during this time. In photographing my family, I have also been reflecting on my own spiritual journey, and what it has meant for me. This is the first Ramadan that has solely felt lonely, despite being in a full house because of COVID-19. As time stands still, and at the same time escapes us, I want the viewers to feel like they are in the same moment as me. 

Empty stomachs till sunset,
But souls are filled with content.
Prayer- an outlet, 
No regrets when your faith is being tested.

It takes discipline to carry a light heart.
Ramadan- a blooming flower, not the end, always a fresh start.
Facing our gaze inwards, 
Forgetting our ego and getting rid of the idea that we’re all sinners.

The gates of heaven are open now,
But it feels like the devil is still sitting next to me somehow.

I remember the heat on my skin when the summer sun was born.
I remember the unbearable humidity as my friends and I complain trying to find shade or a small bit of breeze.
I remember all the snacks I'd save up throughout the day, so my fast was broken with a crazy amount of sour patch kids, granola bars, and goldfish.
And then the days go by, and the gates to heaven close.
I remember now as I lounge in front of the only window I can get fresh air from has been my only escape.
I remember feeling like there was a revolution happening inside of me-
I remember now that my heart still feels heavy- 
Even though the hours were shorter than last year
I remember feeling afraid because we only feel scared when we have something to lose.

The new moon is around the corner.
My heart is racing, but I am ready to continue fighting.
I have divorced my spirit from my body.
I am grateful for all the truths I’ve learned and have yet to learn, about myself, and the world.

So no, I cannot tell you what lies ahead.
But know that you are free to open your heart to peace, despite the uncertainties for the next day.

You are free to hold both happiness and sorrow.
You are free to challenge truths, while also being gentle with yourself.
You are free to love, and receive love despite any feelings of unworthiness.
You are free to grace the earth with light feet, no matter what tragedies you are leaving behind.

You deserve to take up space, right here in this very moment, no different, but just as you are.
You are the moon, so you do not think you can be as powerful as the sun. 
You have loved so much that for all the souls you considered of being your sun, you lost parts of yourself every night so that they can shine brighter.
But one day you will learn that it is not impossible to coexist in the same world.

There is more than enough room for that because in the end,
The Sun Will Still Rise, but So Will the Moon.

After a long night of staying up for suhoor (last meal before dawn), my mom and brothers were fast asleep. I usually have trouble sleeping at night so I’m left to catch up with the thoughts and unanswered questions in my head. We either wish for the nights to never end or for the morning to come as quickly as possible. Either way, the sun will still rise. And I will rise with the sun. Bronx, NY. May 7,  2020

I read somewhere once that being noticed by someone feels so close to being loved that sometimes they feel the same. I remember the last time I was about this close to someone I loved. I never experience nausea being around someone. My stomach was flipping and turning, my legs were shaking, and the adrenaline was clear on my face. Sometimes you can get addicted to a certain feeling.

Temptations. That’s what Ama would’ve called it. “Sins do not arise until the heart becomes vulnerable.” So maybe in those moments, my heart was vulnerable. We as humans are presented with different trials in life. When a heart absorbs thus trial, a black spot is blotched on it. When the heart deflects a trial, a white dot is spotted. I wonder if my heart is blackened. Love is life’s greatest trial, after all, isn’t it? Bronx, NY. May 4, 2020

One of the most painful things in life is witnessing the people who love and take care of us get older. However, my Grandma, only being in her late 50s, is as resilient as a young child. Being in quarantine has been challenging for her as well because she feels like she has been stuck in her mind lately. When she’s on her feet, she’s unstoppable. Bronx, NY. May 18, 2020

My Grandma always tells me that “prayer is better than sleeping.” Now I  understand where my insomnia comes from, but her mind is always restless- she is always thinking about her kids, the future, and even life after death. Prayer for her is an outlet, a way to release her thoughts to the one person she knows will understand and guide her- God. 

When I am unable to sleep at night, I can open up my prayer mat. Happy when my prayers are answered, but even happier when they are unanswered because that path wasn’t meant for me. Rather, there is an even better path waiting for me. Bronx, NY. May 18, 2020

Ama opened the kitchen window for the first time in a while. Ramadan began this year on April 24. For a moment it felt like I could taste heaven from the refreshing breeze that danced into the room. As the dust particles danced with the falling light, so did my heart. Bronx, NY. April 28, 2020

Bronx, NY. May 2, 2020

“Prayer is not asking,
It is a longing of the soul. 
It is daily admission
Of one’s weakness.
It is better in prayer-
to have a heart without words.
Than words without a heart.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Bronx, NY. May 15, 2020

"If the Earth needs the Sun for its light, 
then the heart should crave for light too.”
- The Qur'an

Iftar feels so different this year. Sometimes staying at home fasting doesn’t even feel like I’m fasting, rather it feels like I’m just starving myself. If we were not in quarantine, we would have been having dinner with friends and other family members. But I think one of the upsides to spending Ramadan in quarantine is that for the first time, I have been able to spend time with my family. But it often feels so hectic because after someone gets their food, they go to another room, or they just leave. We take eating with family for granted. But I guess it’s the closest feeling even if it’s for a split second. Bronx, NY. April 27, 2020

I have prayed at a Mosque a few times when I was younger. However, my parents thought it was okay for me to pray at home because I was a girl, and it would be best for the boys to go pray at the Mosque. One of the busiest places during Ramadan, I can understand why Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims. It’s a month where even lost souls can make a choice at taking a chance to strengthen their faith and pray around those with the same wish. To be close to God. I believe the Mosques are still open according to my Dad, but due to social distancing, many have decided to stay home. This prayer mat is special because it holds many memories during Ramadan of being able to pray together. Because my brothers are not able to go to the Mosque to pray, they have created their own version at home. Side by side, praying. Bronx, NY. April 28, 2020

When I first saw my mom read the Quran as a young girl, I remember more than anything that I wanted one for my very own. I have completed reading it four times. I am able to read it but have not always been able to understand it.One thing is to understand is that reading the Quran is like speaking with God. And just like that, I feel less lost, and my heart is soft. Bronx, NY. May 1, 2020

Every story is important in the Quran. They each individually make the Quran what it is as a whole. This picture shows one of the chapters- Ayatul Kursi. This chapter is about protection. If you recite it twice, God sends two groups of Angels to protect you. If you recite it three times, then God tells the Angels not to worry as he, himself protects that person. Sometimes I wish to protect others more than myself. But sometimes you can’t protect what doesn’t want to be protected. All you can do is make sure your heart is protected from people like that. Bronx, NY. May 7, 2020

I look at my baby cousins, and always think to myself: What I would give to be a child again. To never feel the worries and expectations of the world on my shoulders. To think that we have so much time ahead of us. I look at my baby cousins, and I hope they don’t have to grow up as fast as I did. Bronx, NY. May 8, 2020

I went to my Grandma's house today for the first time since quarantine started. There was a mix of emotions in the atmosphere. Messy emotions resembled by the mess of sandals and slippers in the hallway as we walked in. Life is messy. But it’s the mess that has made me who I am today. And for that, I think I have grown to accept the messiness of life, and in a weird way, admire it. Bronx, NY. May 8, 2020

Synonyms for escape: Disappear, run away, avoid, get out, break free, going to my friend’s house and returning home at night time, making choices, late-night car rides, dancing, and signing, falling in love. Bronx, NY. May 16, 2020

Before quarantine, my dad would always get home after 4 am. Now, however, he is always home, until he gets tired of being indoors and looks for excuses to go outside like grocery shopping. I remember when I was younger I was very close with my dad. As I got older, things changed. My mom began to tell me to cover my chest, cover this, cover that. “Tor goro baf ar baye, shoril gurya thakis.” You live in a house with grown brothers and a dad, you need to make sure you cover yourself. There’s always a sense of frustration and anger I have towards my dad, but more so men. As if they get to dictate what I wear and don’t. He yelled at me countless times for not wearing the shawl in front of him. My blood would boil. Islam does not condone misogyny, but I think instead of blaming my parents for their ignorance, I blamed God. But I know now that there is no doubt that Islam gives the most honor to women. I’d like to think my parents truly don’t know any better. But I wonder how long I can stay angry with him sometimes. Bronx, NY. May 8, 2020

The Rooftop. A getaway from the world beneath us. People are like roofs. When you begin to know someone, you see the beautiful garden. You see them in such a perfect light that you forget there are also dark alleys. You forget that we are all humans and that there is more to them than what you see and what they show you. But this doesn’t scare me. I’m scared of discovering their roof. Their place of escape from the world. Bronx, NY. May 24, 2020

We can't see it yet, and we have to recognize that the future will look unique, but the brave decision in continuing to show up is a symbol of progress that will matter, no matter what's coming. Bronx, NY. May 24, 2020

As I got older, I thought this special holiday would lose its meaning, but this year I had one of the most memorable Eids. Since I was a little girl, I saw my mother and aunts dressing up in sarees and always dreamt of one day feeling confident enough to wear one as well. yesterday, through all the safety pins and struggling to find the perfect blouse, I wore my first ever saree with an off shoulder top. Who said American and Bengali fashion couldn't come together to make the perfect Eid outfit? When you love yourself enough, that is when you are truly lucky enough. Bronx, NY. May 24, 2020

If you want to know more about a person- look at their hands. Their hands will reveal  more stories than you will ever know. Bronx, NY. May 24, 2020

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