Sun in the Sky [NEW]

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

The sea stretched itself between two islands, in sheets of shimmering, undulating, languidly seductive velvet, a sequin twinkling here, a sparkle flickering here, dotted in random places by vessels plying in all logical directions. Heads of foam on the tops of wind-whipped waves ran like little tufts on of cotton on these ever-moving expanses of dark blue water towards that place where the sun would set later on in the day, perhaps to set themselves on fire before the sea turned into molten gold and the fiery ball sank into it. One of the sleepy islands lay there on hidden pillows in the turquoise and emerald sheets of their own lagoons, white bodies of sugar-white sand offered in gentle supplication to the sky. Verdelite and jade heads of robust coconut trees swayed proudly in the breeze, disdainfully ignoring the humble Scaevola half-flowers and the sea purslane underfoot.

Man thought that the noble sun looked down at it all.

They called Latheefa the proud one. Taller than her generation subscribed to as normal, slimmer than the thinnest wannabe model from a younger set, she walked aloof under her buruga head scarf, averting her haunting black eyes from the mildly curious. Her worn imported leather sandals padded on the grayed coral sand of the fastidiously swept lanes, taking her from her mother’s boisterously loud, old-fashioned house with the large, well-planted yard to the new, modern-looking three-room bungalow. Usually when she had her bearings that way, she felt the first fleeting caresses of a cold, indefinable, nameless fear brush right across her heart. The closest she ever came to describing that fear was when she hesitated to describe it as the anguish suffered by an unwilling virgin while being led into the first night of an arranged marriage.

She thought longingly of the one man who could comfort her, but an uncaring, all-seeing sun rained down merciless UV rays on her.

Maghroor the husband was not proud in any way. Athletic, suave to the point of being taken as royalty from a bygone era, his alpha-dog body language dominated any assembly he humbly attended. He had a smile for everyone, a handshake for all friends and a nod for all foreigners. On his way to a fishermen’s congress, he felt his Honda shudder under him as if in protest at being ridden over rubble that had passed under unnoticed. He twisted the grip in his right hand to open up the throttle just to show the engine that he would not tolerate such rebellion. Even if the scooter legally belonged to his wide, he knew he had total control over it. Unlike a flesh and blood creature that might have complied uncomplainingly, he was immediately rebuffed with a complete, sighing shutdown. Exasperated, he looked at the fuel gauge just by chance and saw that the main tank had run dry. Living up to his reputation as a debonair gentleman, he cursed the engine silently and with a pontifical smile on his radiant face.

He felt the life-giving, energizing sun raise huge drops of sweat on his respectable forehead as he pushed the Honda towards the nearest filling spot.

Across the stretches of sapphire-blue water, internal combustion engines roared and screamed across what has been described too often a concrete jungle in voices ranging from the deepest bass to high contralto. While those in power desperately tried to make the island greener, the jungle cliché still applied itself to the capital of an increasingly confusing and confused capital of a nation: Even the imported species of shade tree recently coerced into growth on both sides of unwilling roads allowed their youngest branches to sag limp and low, giving the natives ample opportunity to name them appropriately as the droopy branch tree. As Fareed threaded his ageing white Toyota through the white uniforms just disgorged from a school gate all over the sidewalk, pavement, all over the very straight road, he longed for his daily long-distance reunion with that one self-sacrificing person who had kept him on another even road for six years. He knew the rewards of that virtue called patience.

Everyone on the capital island noticed the sun dropping fast towards the west and was ready to welcome the hedonistic night into town.

The sea still stretched itself between two islands, no longer shimmering, but still undulating in languid, seductive velvet. Ruby and emerald navigation lights dotted the dark expanses between the islands. The sun had long said its gracious goodbye to the islands of the Indian Ocean. Poets imagined it to rest peacefully in a very calm place somewhere just over the horizon. Maghroor sat at Fishermen’s Point and played thaas cards with the more affluent boat owners, biding his time till he could decorously bid his lesser goodnight and go home to his submissive, obedient, all-accommodating wife who was as fresh, as respectful and almost as fearful as a virgin every night, even after three years of dutiful marriage. Latheefa took out a cell phone she kept hidden in an empty tin of cookies in the deepest reaches of a kitchen cupboard, wiped a tear from her eyes, smiled sadly, and dialed a certain number.

As the microwaves traversed the choppy channels, a phone rang inside a nameless apartment on the capital island. A man rushed in, having parked his ageing white Toyota illegally on his road where no four-wheeler parking slots existed. With a tender touch he had not lost in six years, he picked up his Nokia, smiled gently at the incoming number, and proceeded to wipe a tear very gently off someone else’s face.

And the sun did not dare or care to look their way. Safely out of the way, and in no place to judge anyone, it now shone harshly, impersonally and mercilessly over the parched sands of the Sahara in Arabia.

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Comments

  • silentfingers  On October 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Oh, I’m sure every woman knows this story too well… Masks. Painted smiles. Little secrets. Obligations… Ah, Life! 

    The sun indeed is a harsh punisher, mercilessly drying up oceans and turning them into thirsty deserts. And these deserts keep looking up at the many clouds that passes over them, only to join the oceans.. And if lucky enough, once in a while a passing, more humane cloud would rain a few drops on the dry dunes. And when they do, the most beautiful flowers sprout out from their barren bellies, leaving them with the feeling of ‘being alive’; like the lively oceans so enviously looked down upon.. like the oceans that they once were..

    I wonder, who is to blame? The sun, clouds or dry sand? None, I suppose. After all this is Life!  

    May God bless you for your effort to shuffle our sleeping minds. And may life always treat you with kindness. Amen!                

  • jamjam  On May 31, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Hi, I’m a big fan of your art, which I think is underrated, people know you principally as a writer not as an artist. Anyway, how did you get the lower part of the picture to shine the way it does? Is it the effect of camera flash, or did you use the charcoal eraser to achieve said effect? Just curious. Also if you don’t think this is too personal, what inspires your art? Is the source of inspiration different from your writing or do you tap into the same source? Thank you.

    • ldive  On June 5, 2011 at 3:33 pm

      You are so so perceptive! The original effect was from camera flash. But when I noticed it, I went back to the original and used an ordinary eraser to recreate the effect on the actual work.
      As for the ‘inspiration’…… I have the habit of doodling when I am at meetings: The more I concentrate on the proceedings, the more I participate, the faster my pencil moves. Sometimes, very strange things happen. In the old days, I would just tear up the doodle and keep my notes. Then, a friend suggested I keep sketching paper at hand. You know the rest!

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