Day 5: Thirst

Since our hero hasn’t found water, and it hasn’t rained, he’s in a certain amount of danger.

When I lived in Indonesia, I discovered that when Indonesians say “fasting” they mean no food AND no water (although usually a “day” of fasting is only three-quarters of a day). My friend Wibi (an Indonesian man) and I fasted for “three” days (actually fifty-five hours) at the beginning of 2001. (Katerina is an Australian staying at the same place, a provate dwelling.) Here’s what I wrote about it at the time (my doctor freaked out when I told her about it, because apparently it can permanently damage the stomach. That made me glad I’d so thoroughly prepared):

31 December 2000:

            Wibi and I are fasting the next three days (it’s not actually three days; we’ll eat again on the third). I’ve drunk so much water in preparation that my pee looks like water.

1 January 2001:

I am coveting Katerina’s water bottle (she’s sitting next to me as I write so it’s probably about time for another Indo-speak lesson).

            (later)

            Yep. And she’s left her water here too. She’s gratuitously taken aback by my fasting. I feel pretty good actually, psyching myself up for the ominous ‘Second Day’. I’ve had a few cramps but my mouth feels mostly normal and though I’m weak I haven’t been thinking about food every second. Still, while I’m here. . .

            Was craving apple an hour or two ago. Fresh cold peeled green apple. Mmm. . . but then I thought raw apple was probably a bad thing (too crunchy and hard) to end a fast with so I thought maybe apple juice. Fresh and strong in flavour and cold.

            Any kind of fruit juice actually. I tend to get frustrated when I get nice drinks because water (though it’s often lukewarm, soapy or burnt in flavour) is something I can consume with no problems and the money would be better spent on food.  

            But I eventually settled on peeled green fresh apple grated juicily into a bowl with a heaped teaspoon of sugar. Sweet, easy on the stomach and also basically healthy: no better food to end a fast with.

            I am home in two weeks today. I don’t need to put apples on my ‘special food’ list because we usually have apples in the fridge and I have grated apple whenever I want. Did I ever know before today the deliciousness of my life? It is so cool that food is so yummy. And there are so many types of food that I can never possibly try them all. (Uh. . . not that I want to.) I’m sure with a little effort I can find enough different types of healthy, tasty food to keep me satisfied for the rest of my life – even in Indo-land.

            Tomorrow I will wake up desperately hungry and knowing that I will go to bed literally a day or two off death. And, if I’ve understood correctly, will spend most of the day in pain.

            Okay, now I feel bad.

            My stomach hurts. It’s hotter here than I’m used to – I looked at my travel clock and it’s been up to thirty degrees. I’m wearing my coolest clothes but feel sweatier than normal. Will not be eating or drinking till about midday Wednesday. We were eating and drinking till three this morning so I don’t feel too bad yet.

            My body is a little achy and very lethargic and a minute ago I felt feverish. Tomorrow should be loads of fun.

2 January 2001:

I wonder which is more important, water or sleep? I suppose water but I’d rather do this than fast sleep because going without sleep you can’t. . . well, sleep. Which is the good thing about fasting Indo-style: We’re allowed to sleep pretty much whenever it’s not a prayer time (this family has prayer in the mornings which I enjoyed this morning although I was relieved when it was over after an hour). The bad thing is that ‘allowed’ doesn’t mean ‘able’. I can lie down though.

Food and water are painfully easy to get. Everything I think about seems to be coincidentally food related – when I shower or wash my hands after going to the ladies’ room (see, I can use euphemisms too) I look mournfully at the beautiful cold clear water and it helps only a little to remind myself it’s crawling with whole colonies and civilizations of micro organisms awaiting their chance to kill me and/or make the loo my permanent residence.

            I feel okay now. Lying down as I write. Last night was unpleasant. The main problem was my stomach hurting. Not too bad but consistent all night long (I’m so glad it’s only two nights). Also felt so hot that after about 4:00am (when I heard rain and went to bring in everyone’s towels and a few clothes from outside) I slept on the floor. I’d set my alarm for ten to five for the morning prayer time. I went to the loo (fascinating medical fact: pee still quite clear. Maybe I’m not all that dehydrated and that’s why I’m not clutching my stomach in agony right about now). I know I slept at least for a bit because I had a nightmare that someone set my cat on fire.

A lot of people have been telling me how awful I look. I’ve been feeling feverish and took my temperature twice (midday and midarvo) and it was 101 degrees Fahrenheit – not a clue what that means.

            I don’t feel sore really, but I feel like my stomach should be concave. Which it profoundly isn’t (even after recently losing thirteen kilos due to being here in Indo-land) although it seems a different shape now to what it was a few days ago. Also sometimes (especially when it does that bubbly rumble) I feel like my body is nosing around in my stomach. . . searching. And I’m getting weird pins and needles a lot.

Coconut milk tomorrow!!

3 January 2001:

Fascinating information: my stomach is flatter that it’s ever been. Strange but true: a flatter stomach in three days or less. No exercise! No special food! In fact, no food at all. Or drink. . .

            Happy thought for the morning: I am now officially near death.

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Later: I felt pretty sick for several days afterward, which is normal for any kind of fasting. Since I drank coconut milk in combination with water and juice and food, it didn’t make me sick.

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