New Morning

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

(Note: I dedicate this story to my very good friends “Diamond” Naseem, Futhiha Ali Shakir, Dr. Hemant Garg, Mohamed Niyaz Yusuf, “Kaiydha” Ismail, Fath Thou, Athifa Ali, Maheel Jaleel, and Jawish Hameed. I also dedicate this to my pals Ashkaa Shiuth, Ahmed Shifau, Mohamed Shaamil, Ahmeema Ahmed and Ibu Jaleel. I also thank a very special someone who has so graciously and generously forgiven me for my transgressions. Thank you, angels! You cared.)

Just before a new morning, the dark still reigned. The roosters had not announced the morning as per tradition, at least not yet. Mythical creatures, laughed about during the day, were still an uneasy possibility in the whisper of the cool sea breeze. High tide had wiped the footprints left on the dazzling coral sand of the beach by some carefree lovers, and then retreated into the safety of the lagoon. Surely, only a very tortured soul would give up a comfortable bed and come a-walking…

It was the young man’s habit to wander alone on the island just before the dawn call to prayers. And at the end of every lonely night, he would find himself on the beach, breathing in the clean, pure air just come off the sea. He would let his lungs fill with that air and feel a sense of gratefulness coming upon him. For in him there was a need to thank He who gave him life even though his soul was yet a tortured one. Tonight, as he walked down the narrow corridor of coconut palms that led down to the beach, he had a sudden sense of premonition. As if there was something special about the day. Almost like the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan or the festive Eid ending it.

And there she sat. In the hazy light of pre-dawn, adulterated with the diluted glow of a few courageous stars, she was beautiful. The front of her red libaas, embroidered round the neck in the traditional manner of North Huvadhoo, blushed pure. Golden thakaholhi at her ankles indicated a certain prosperity often ascribed to the womenfolk of old family wealth. Only the rich flow of her black hair, allowed to cascade around her face instead of being rolled severely into a formal hulhi, indicated an informal freedom from tradition. But then, she could also have been…. an old spirit come a-hunting…..

Little islands with tight-knit communities threw big problems in your face if you valued your dignity in front of your fellow beings, and the young man had an old problem. His father had brought him to the island, mother unknown and unexplained, giving rise to the rumor that he was the product of an illegitimate liaison. They called him a bastard to his face and he had just reached the farthest limits of his patience, the bottom dregs of any courage he might have had, and certainly the certainly last tatters of any dignity he could lay claim to. As the young man’s bare feet found themselves suddenly padding on the softer sand of the beach, he suddenly looked up because he thought he saw something. And there she was, sitting there right in front of him, with a beautiful smile on her face.

Any young man brought up in an old culture flavored with layers of superstition would have turned and run away. Not him! Little did he care if the red-clad apparition in front of him were a ghoul come hunting for human flesh, a tik-tik, a succubus, a handi, a Fury or Lilith herself! He approached the apparition… almost happily.

“Good morning!” He spoke first. “Are you from here, or….”

“Good morning to you, too!” It was almost an interruption. But when she opened her mouth, he could see the sharp, pearly-white teeth that only drew him more towards her. “To answer your question, I am not from here in how you would interpret that expression. I am not of your community but I am here now and could be anywhere tomorrow. But that is irrelevant. But let me ask you this: Should you be here at this time of the night? A handsome young man like you could land himself in a lot of trouble talking to people like us, you know! But something…. something tells me that you are also not quite from here, are you? But do forgive me if I sound rude. Please do forgive me.”

“Not quite from here….?” The young man heaved a sigh. He had also begun to feel a sudden closeness to this being that sat there so close to him and looked so attractive. She was beautiful not only in the finery of her clothes but in the dazzle of her almost seductive smile and her polished politeness. “You are right. Half the island does not accept me as one of them. They call me a bastard. They shun me for what they think I am. They hate me for my opinions which are often so different from theirs. And please! There is no need to ask for forgiveness. You have not committed a sin.”

“Oh, what do your people and my people know of forgiveness?” Suddenly there were tears coursing down the rosy cheeks. He felt like wiping them away ever so gently but did not have the courage to do so. “What do they know of sin? My people punish me for the sins of my parents. Your people insult you for your father’s. Tell me, my fearless friend. Tell me about forgiveness!”

“Well….” Hesitation left the young man as soon as he started. “This is what I have learnt at school. Forgiveness is the ability to accept that others can also make mistakes just like you do. Forgiveness is the ability to let go of the past and look at a better future. Forgiving someone is like throwing out garbage. Forgiveness is…. almost divine. And sometimes so so difficult to practice.”

“Thank you, my hero.” Her smile was now different, more intimate and loving. “You have taught me well tonight. And for that, I will tell you why I am here tonight. I am a runaway from my home which is in a place you would not know. My father, probably just like yours, had one night of fun with someone he should not have talked to. At least not in the proper scheme of things. So, there I am, half-human, constantly made fun of by my people. They hurt me and annoy me. I cannot forgive my father for he is no longer around to defend me. I cannot forgive my people. I cannot live with them. But now that you have opened my eyes, perhaps I can forgive them? Perhaps it is possible to practice forgiveness after all?”

And there they sat talking till they heard the muezzin call the faithful to prayer. In the truer light of dawn, adulterated no more, they were beautiful together, two beings from two different planes of existence, sharing, caring, making sense out of confusion, creating a tentative loving existence out of two nests of hate and revulsion. She sat in her red libaas, embroidered round the neck in gold and silver, golden thakaholhi at her ankles, her hair cascading around her smiling face. He sat next to her, clad in a simple sarong, smiling at her with a dawning sense of what was happening between them.

And in the morning, when they came a-looking, they found two sets of footprints leading down to the wet sand on the beach, waiting for high tide to wipe them clean. Perhaps their owners took their new-found happiness to where the clouds rose into the sky. But they who came looking never found anything else… Perhaps, not even forgiveness for themselves.

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Comments

  • max  On March 16, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    beautiful…

  • futhi  On March 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    happens everywhere…all the time. nicely said. awesomely written. 🙂 what else can i say..i do envy you.

  • mysterystar  On March 22, 2011 at 4:47 am

    “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” And this is what I practice.I forgive all……. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece of work. And great way you have put forgiveness…

  • shifa  On March 31, 2011 at 10:40 am

    thank you so much for sharing . indeed this wonderful piece of work touched my heart.

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