Caramel Candy

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

Manik’s brand new Mercedes-Benz E63 had no trouble doing the legal maximum of 30 kilometers per hour. The recently-resurfaced road called Ameenee Magu ran like a swath of smooth silk under him. Buildings of all designs and age slid past with languorous monotony on his left. The turquoise waters of the inner harbor lay sparkling on his right. His second son Hassan sat by his side. The boy was a picture of radiant good health. He chattered on about his exclusive school in the United Kingdom.

Manik was also exclusively happy. Life had been good to him. His marriage to the only daughter of the wealthy owner of five tourist resorts had turned out well. He had a beautiful and adoring wife. Her generosity knew no bounds. His mother, the engineer of this marriage, and the architect of his divorce from his first wife Aisha, was happy too.

In all his twelve years, Hassan never knew a day of grief. He had never been belittled by thrift-shop shopkeepers. He had never looked into the ruthless eyes of unfulfilled need. He did not know he had a half-brother in this world. His world was wide in its geographical reach and grandeur.It was equally wide in being ignorant of matters of family relationships.

“Father!” gushed Hassan, “See what I got today at a coconut cart on Ameenee! Maldivian caramel candy! Finally! Something to eat that is truly from home.”

Caramel candy was always sweet. So cloyingly sweet.

Bassam knew he had a father. He knew exactly what his father did for a living. But he never shared that with his buddies. He worked long hours at a local garage and went to night school if he had time left over. He knew it whenever his father held a posh birthday party for Hassan. He knew the date his father’s Mercedes-Benz E63 passed its first roadworthiness test. He took great delight in his father’s achievements. But he kept that delight secret. He had to!

Bassam was also immensely proud of his mother. When Manik divorced her, she began earning a living at a roadside ‘coconut cart’. She sold coconuts, betel, soft drinks and even caramel candy off her cart. Soon, her son Bassam began matching his mother’s meager income with his own. When times were tough, they got their rice on credit from the corner shop. When things were good, they ate reasonably well. However, Bassam always smiled. After all, things could always only get better!

Bassam also nursed a hidden desire in life. He yearned for something — anything — from his father. A dead watch in need of a fresh battery would do. An old pen that had lost its gloss. Anything given with love would be lovely. Even some recognition, would do! He knew how to change a watch battery. He could always polish a used pen. But he did not know how to fill that strange emptiness in his heart.

And then came that wonderful Friday! He was walking past Male’ jail on Ameenee Magu, whistling his way to his mother’s cart when he saw his father’s unmistakable Mercedes-Benz E63 gliding down the road towards him. He stood by the side of the road, waiting for the car to begin slowing down, and as it did, the near-side front window started rolling down!

“Come on son! You have no idea how unhygienic these people are. Here! Give me those sweets.” He heard someone say.

Inside the car, Hassan surrendered the offending sweets. Manik tossed the caramel candy out.

Manna from heaven would not have been more welcome. Bassam knew his father had recognized him. He knew the sweets had been thrown out for him! His heart filled with pride and gratitude. His father had finally seen him and tossed him the candy. His father had accepted his first begotten son! Such was the reward of patience.

Inside the car, Hassan, sucked surreptitiously on some caramel candy. He had secretly popped one in his mouth before his father threw away the rest.

Out on the street, Bassam put the precious candy in his mouth and sucked on it happily.

Maldivian caramel candy never tasted that good before.
Why, it certainly tasted like home!

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Comments

  • Amir  On April 17, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    waiting to began slowing
    Is that a typing mistake?

  • ldive  On April 18, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Not only that! There was some text missing. Thank you for being a great editor! If you have the time, would you please check this one and the others some more…. perhaps I am asking for too much?

  • shifa  On August 1, 2010 at 11:44 am

    a touching story

  • mariyam yasmine  On August 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    now dis is wht we call…a touching story…..really nice..i wonder why all da stories takes place in maldives only..it,l be wonderful if u write a story dat takes place in pakistan or india or else a british country….it,l be a different taste for readers..

    • ldive  On September 6, 2010 at 3:02 am

      For you, sweet jasmine, fellow unholy poet, I will try to do a ‘videyshi’ one for you!

  • sukhsohit singh  On February 11, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    “”A heart warming story , i somehow felt associated with the story, shall reveal my own story, when i meet u…””

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