Roadside

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”


“Look at that gorgeous woman in the pink car! I thought I would never get to see such a wonderful person in real life! She looks exactly like a movie star! ” The girl exclaimed in whispered wonder to her kid brother as they sat on plastic chairs by the roadside cart and sipped sweet coconut water through straws, just like the tourists did. “And look, look! She just smiled at me!”

She smiled back, and in her great joy, waved at the wonderful being in the pink car. She wondered at the miracle of how she had been noticed!

Male’, the capital island of their island country, had always had a magical allure to the little girl. She had always felt close to it. It had always been the place where wonderful people lived out their movie-like lives, full of drama and action. The wealthy, the lucky, the blessed, and the fortunate lived well on the island while simple, ordinary, local folk like her lived out their lives far from away from the magic. The island folk earned their happiness and their elders’ praise by fetching water from the community tanks, helping each other cook the daily tuna, and listening to the local historians as the latter sat at the fishermen’s seating place called the holhu ashi , telling and re-telling stories of ever-present genies and far way kings

And then, one glorious day, coming to the far-away Male’ had become a reality! She had got an ‘A’ report card at the local school that term and her father had asked her what she wanted as a special reward. She had immediately told him: She wanted to see her beautiful Male’! She wanted to see that wonderful sparkling place she only got to see on the second hand television set her father had bought for a small consideration from a richer cousin. She wanted to see it, feel it, touch it!

The happy young girl’s father had immediately looked in his precious box of valuables and had discovered a few Rufiyaa that he said he could spare from the jaws of daily and necessary expenses, despite her mother’s frown. And, good at his word, he had spent some of that money in bringing them over to Male’ on the morning ferry the very next day. And that was how she and her kid brother had a day of luxury, sipping their coconut water from straws like the tourists did, watching the locals riding the surf at the ‘Lonuziyaaraiy’ east end of the island, while in the background, countless airplanes took off and landed on another island. Meanwhile, the wealthy, the lucky, the blessed, and the fortunate ones zoomed past them in all their finery on powerful motorcycles, flashy scooters and gorgeous cars in all colors of the rainbow so clean and pure. And she was seeing it, feeling it, touching it!

The little girl sat there, her little heart overflowing with happiness. She thanked the stars for her ‘A’ report card, obtained as a direct result of much academic reciting, memorization and smiling at all the teachers, and as a result of forfeiting many an evening of repeated stories of princes and fairies at the holhu ashi. And she promised herself that when she went back home on the evening ferry, she would spend every night at her lessons so that she would top her class and be blessed with the proximity of the wealthy, the lucky, the blessed, and the fortunate every term.

The woman in the car waved back at the radiant smile on the face of the little girl who sat on the faded plastic chair near the roadside cart. Her heart yearned for another day, another time, another place where the simpler things in life had been the blessings she had turned her back on. She remembered the tuna her father used to bring home and almost tasted the boiled dhonbis roe she would be favored with if the fish had been female. She missed the stories of supernatural beings and wonderful beings her grandmother would relate to all at the community jolifathi seating area. She missed her father, her mother, her innumerable uncles and aunts and the sweet scent of the pandanus blossom in the later hours of the night.

Looking back, she remembered exactly how she had started coming to Male’. She remembered exactly how she had wanted to live a magical life among whom she considered to be the wealthy, the lucky, the blessed, and the fortunate in this world. She remembered exactly how she had caught the eye of the son of a wealthy man and remembered how she had showered so much attention on him that the poor boy had no choice but to ask her hand in marriage. She recalled her wonderful honeymoon in Singapore and Bangkok and how she had reveled in finally being counted amongst the wealthy, the lucky, the blessed, and the fortunate.

Being wealthy, the lucky, the blessed, and the fortunate, she also recalled how her maturing husband had slowly tired of her. She recalled every little instance of his unfaithfulness. She chose not to remember how much it had hurt her in the beginning and preferred to take comfort in the jaded existence she now led. She often forgot the simple and happy life she had on her island when she dived into the petty jealousies, quarrels and intrigues hatched daily among other woman of her station.

But not today! Today, as she waved back at that little girl on the cheap plastic chair by the roadside cart, she remembered that day long buried in the past when she herself had sat on the breakwater with her kid brother, eating fried breadfruit out of a paper bag, gazing in wonder at the wonderful people of Male’ as they walked and rode by her in all their finery.

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Comments

  • Naseem  On January 30, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Wonderful as usual…

  • mysterystar  On January 31, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Vice versa I personally would love to visit and live an island life…. for I have brought up in the simplicity.A walker right on the Male’ city… Good Maldivian flavored story… Thanks you then again this story too will be shared.. with others..

    • ldive  On January 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      Please do share with as many as you want!

  • Dr Hemant Garg  On February 3, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    keep it up waheed.you are very creative, i must say.

    • ldive  On February 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm

      Hemant! Good to hear from you! Thank you for your encouragement!

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