Big Cat 

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

“Oh the youth of today! They have no morals, no truth, no firm beliefs, no faith!”

The accusation came from Sanpa, a woman in her early sixties. Black chador, lined face and stern voice. These indicated the strong presence of good morals, certain truth and extreme faith. She never had children. Therefore, Sanpa had no youth to think about. Her own youth or her grown up children. That, perhaps, was all for the best.

But then, those once-young ladies who had gone to the Edhuru Dhaitha teacher woman with Sanpa had had children of their own. So, they had had a chance to bring up their own children. And that with a healthy dose of morals, truth and faith. Sanpa said so.

Sanpa’s mates had brought up their children not on these modern rap singers but on good old traditional Maldivian lullabies like the one about the Big Cat. Sang Sanpa:

Bodu Bulhalaa Naadhey [O Big Cat, do not come!]
Migey dhoshah naadhey [Don’t come near this house.]
Migeyaku nethey roa kujjeh [There is no crying child in this house.]
Ehera geyah dhaan’dhey [Go to that house there!]

She could hear the good old lullaby, so full of morals, truth, belief and faith as they sang away. Often to quiet a crying or bawling child into socially acceptable silence.

And that , said Sanpa, was a good mirror of the culture that we so much desire to keep. That, said Sanpa, was what they were losing.

The guy on the Honda motorbike listened to Sanpa and started thinking:

“O Big Cat, do not come!” Cats understood human language although they are not known to state their own opinions in public. Also, cats are very fond of human meat, especially the tender young flesh of babies and toddlers. Or, maybe, cats engaged in unmentionable acts involving little kids. For whatever reason, it was best that the Big Cat stayed away!

Or so the child believed and kept quiet. At least till she was about five. That was when she would begin to figure out that cats were actually quite friendly and would not eat her in any way.

“Don’t come near this house. There is no crying child in this house.” The mom knew her kid was crying. The kid knew he was bawling his head off. But you see, Mr. Big Cat gotta stay away. And therefore, it was OK to lie to him as long as you could and give time for the kid to stop his bawling real fast. So that when Mr.Cat eventually approached, everything would be as stated!

“Go to that house!” Never mind if Mr. Cat was made to make a mistake and ate up the neighbors’ perfectly obedient child. As long as you were safe, to heck with the neighbors!

The man on the bike shook his head.

Fooling your kid into fearing innocent Kitty was OK as long as the poor thing shut up like all good kids should was what this particular lullaby demanded? Lying to Kitty about the kid, right in front of the kid was OK? Even better, foisting Famished Felix on the unwary neighbors was also the done thing?

So much for the good morals, certain truth and extreme faith we were brought up on, thought the rider of the Honda as he kicked his bike into four-stroke life and roared away, almost in derision!

Blame it on the rap singer, lady. Blame it on that cool cat now!

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  • Mariyam  On April 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Good to see you as good as ever, if not better! Enjoyed the story. And congratulations on the Premchand Award. Just found out about that from a friend at the Indian High Commission

    • Harishchandra Shivpuri  On May 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      You mean the MUNSHEE PREMCHAND AWARD from the Sahitya Akademi? That is a very very prestigious award in India. Mr. Waheed must be promoted as national hero in Maldives then. Is he?

    • ldive  On July 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      Thank you. I owe a great debt to the Sahitya Akademi and to India that wonderful country!

  • Sumayya  On May 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Mr. Waheed! You are so right. This is what our culture is and always will be!

  • shifa  On August 1, 2010 at 11:36 am

    congatulation waheed … we r proud of you…. your stories r so amazing

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