MALDIVES COLLECTION by FARAH

Evil Umbilicus       Fear has a funny face     The Song of Kamana         The Song of Kamana II         Islands of Maldives  

 The Prisoner   Chained         Moon watching         Realities of Island Life         Tropical Moon

 Island Life      Sailing under moonlit skies      Burning Tropical Afternoons     

 

These are some of the poems that relate to the Maldives. Some are poems based on the folklore and culture of the Maldives where as others are descriptive pieces inspired by the beauty of the islands.

Some of the others relate to personal experiences. I included them here because they do relate to the Maldives in more ways than one

 

 

 

 

EVIL INCUBUS

A skull full of sand,
half hidden behind
the old mosque wall,
filled by a dark sinister hand,
slowly shifts the grains
then pours,
and ogles at her feminine form,
she who collects the water,
totally unknown,
now in tears
she tries to hide her fears,
O! but he has seen her eyes,
on his wild winding pride,
of miles and miles and miles,
he watches her every move with evil eyes!

yet pride may come before a fall,
for her better half returns,
to patch the holes
in the old thatched walls,
until but one is left alone,
together they bide their time,
with a pot of chilli paste,
and a crude kitchen knife,
one might swipe,
for a cordless crime,
she smiles,
its all over now,
no more him just us,
the end of the evil umbilicus!

 

The story of the Monster with the Long Umbilical Cord ("Foolhu Dhigu Handi")  

(This is a very famous local "monster tale")

Amina Bi and Hassan Thakuru were a happily married couple. Every day Amina Bi went to the island mosque to fetch water from the well. One day when Amina Bi went to fetch the water, she saw an evil monster with a long umbilical cord sitting near the wall, filling an empty skull with sand. Amina Bi got so frightened that she ran away.

At the time her husband had gone to another island and Amina Bi was alone at home. At midnight she was woken up by some one knocking on the door.  Then she heard some one call “Amina Bi Amina Bi! Did you see the monster with the long umbilical cord filling a  skull with sand in the mosque?”  Amina Bi in her fear replied… “no! I did not!”  Then the voice disappeared.

This happened every night until Hassan Thakuru returned home. When Amina Bi told him of her plight, Thakuru decided to teach the monster a lesson. Their cottage was made of thatched coconut palm and Thakuru patched all the holes on the walls and left just one single gaping hole. He then got Amina Bi to prepare a mixture of salt and chilli, ground into a paste. He sharpened his knife and waited.

At night the monster came back and this time when he called “Amina Bi Amina Bi! Did you see the monster with the long umbilical cord filling a skull with sand in the mosque?”  Amina Bi, prompted by Thakuru, replied.. “Yes I did!”

The monster gave a loud growl and began to push his umbilical cord through the hole in the wall. And as he pushed Thakuru began to gather it up. When he reached the end, Thakuru cut off the cord and slapped the chilli paste on the wound! The monster screamed in agony and was heard running away crying “oh! My umbilical cord! My umbilical cord!” and disappeared forever.

 

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FEAR HAS A FUNNY FACE

 

Fear has a funny face,
I heard the boatmen say one day,
he isn’t afraid
of storms and gales,
of jagged reefs and shark filled tales,
yet of lights in the dark,
he is afraid,
afraid of that unknown nameless place,
where spirits loom to harm
the innocent sailor men,
he is afraid of little lights,
that bursts across his beloved stern,
on a calm and moonless night,
lights that form a fountain,
beneath the dancing waves,
he is afraid of salty rain,
of ghosts and jinns,
that follow his fellow men,
of ships with masts
that reach the stars,
he sees in millions,
sweeping across the horizon,
it’s far!  It’s near,
O! it disappears,

He is afraid of that sudden fire
wild, evil flames
that burns across his wooden stern  
get the paste
the captain cries “make haste
get up that mast, rub it fast
God! Let us survive to tell the tale
” he prays

Yet he braves the seas
in storms and gales
not afraid, not afraid
O fear  has a funny face
Fear does have a funny face

 

The Maldives has always been a sea faring nation. The country depends on fishing and the fishermen are out at sea the whole day, returning only in the evening with their catch. Traditionally, they used sail boats but today these have been replaced my mechanised crafts. They often sail the length and breadth of the country in the night, without the use of any navigational equipment, relying solely on the stars. While no fear of sharks, or storms, or jagged reefs, held them back, there seems to be a common fear among all the sailors…that of the unknown!

Known in the local language Dhivehi as “kan’du mathi elhun” (Literally meaning “getting on the sea”), they talk of lights that burst from underneath the waves which appear like a fountain. At the time, apparently, the boat appears to travel at top speed but in reality it remains almost stationary. Very often they talk of seeing mirages of large ships and often, the sailors would see a burning flame at the stern or on top of the mast. (This maybe St.Elmo’s fire, as it is known in the West) The Maldivian sailors believe that this is the work of the Jinni or evil spirits. The only solution is to rub the top of the mast with “rihaakuru” – a fish paste that is a common delicacy in the Maldives. It is said that the evil force disappears with the application of this paste!

 

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SONG OF KAMANA

Kamana waits alone
on the shore
no news of he 
who sailed 
into the unknown

a seagull crying 
in the sky 
hungry 
yet 
the fish is plenty

palisades of palms
offer little shade
from the afternoon rays

feminine footsteps
on the beach 
angrily washed 
by swelling waves

the tide 
is rising fast
yet cannot hide 
the pain 
in a longing heart

the dreamer's song 
often goes unsung 
and the carpenter's home 
often has no door

Kamana waits on the shore

 

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SONG OF KAMANA II

 

a single lamp
half filled 
with coconut oil
dimly 
lit the room

flickering flames
resist 
the evening breeze
in gentle defiance

menacing shadows
on the 
palm thatched walls
a cold, chilling dance

sudden burst 
of torrential rain 
fast sinking 
into coral sands
sinking her dying faith

prayers 
for a departed soul
at the island mosque 
until dawn 
another sailor's gone

the sea 
has once more 
claimed its own

Kamana waits alone 
 

 

(Part of the Kamana story that I started to write in poetic form. Hoping to complete it someday when my muse returns.)

 

 

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ISLANDS OF MALDIVES

 

Islands of my Maldives,
you are worthy of every word,
of love and praise that I could heap,
on you for you gave me,


a memory that I could keep,

Keep forever and comfort me,
in my lonely years of cold,
weather beaten, rain and gusting snow,


I think of you and then,
I draw your tropical blanket close,

Sometimes I smile and sometimes I weep,
as I think of the islands I left behind,


yet in every gloomy moment,
I feel those warm memories,
glowing in my mind,

All these years I did survive,


clinging onto a childhood dream,
of sun and sand and surf,
and now I know that where I am,
I will always be home.

 

(Inspired by memories of the Maldives and feeling of homesickness. Written in the UK)

 

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THE PRISONER


 

His feet isn't tied,
yet he cannot move,
his mouth is open,
yet he cannot speak,
silence,
echoes against the wall,
a prisoner in his own home,
claustrophobia,
outside the sun does shine so bright,
yet no such light falls on him,
a world filled with emptiness,
timeless,
timeless,

 

A little child with curly hair,
a father torn with grief,
how can he explain, how will she understand,
that walk, that promise made to a daughter,
today he just cannot keep,

An invisible hand tossed a coin,
which side it would land none can say,
is it the innocent with a smiling face,
or is it dark, did he betray,
is it the side of pain,
two sides yet one single coin,
two answers yet one simple question,
is it justice?

 

A ray of hope still flickers
it grows bright as days pass by,
the light of honesty,
so have faith, my brother, faith,
remember it is still the night,
but the dawn is sure to come,
and they who laugh today,
let them do so now,
for they can only laugh a while,
 but God, my beloved kith and kin,
forever smiles a wiser smile
.

 

 

(This poem is dedicated to my brother Ameen Faizal written in 1989 when he was under house arrest.)

 

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CHAINED


Birds are flying
Across the sky
Their cries do louder grow
As daylight breaks
Across the isle
Another dawn
Another morn

My feet remains chained
To the soft white sands
Of this island
My homeless home
Yet my heart with the birds
Will always rove
You cannot chain my thoughts

I count the dusks
I count the dawns
As each day passes by
Only a moment in life for you
Yet a memory for me
this eternity

 

(Another poem dedicated to my brother Ameen Faizal when he was banished to M.Raiymandhoo 1990)

 

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MOON WATCHING


the rising wind blows
through my hair
caressing as it passes by
leaving salty tears behind
(I can still feel the dampness
after all these years)

I stare across this emptiness
of a vast silky lagoon
no boats, no human life
disturb its peace tonight
a sheet of dark velvet skin
rhythmic ripples passing by
occasionally

behind me a portrait
of a painted palm filled palisade
ghostly sentries waiting
anticipating
I lingered with them in the dark
rising expectations
filling the heart and soul

until from behind
the shadowed clouds
a heavenly explosion
a million glistening silver droplets
flooded through the darkness
as I remained totally mesmerised

she took the final curtain call for the night,

 

(I was inspired by watching the moon rise in the Maldives although this was written much later while in the UK, the memories of the beautiful moon stayed with me)
 

 

 

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REALITIES OF ISLAND LIFE


narrow
wind kissed roads,
unpaved with
coral stones,
must be
swept twice daily,

drifting in
with the salty air,
smells of smoked tuna,
drying out in white heat,
crows circling above
ready to steal,

salty water
every where,
the old mosque well
is nearly dry,
tired limbs carry pots
all day long,

creaking sounds
of a bunch of coconuts,
overhead,
browned and seasoned,
just resisting gravity
will they fall on my head?

 

(Island life does not necessarily mean lying on the beach and watching the tide go by for those who live there)

 

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TROPICAL MOON


tropical nights
and tropical dreams
hot and humid
yet entwined
with salty breeze
and coconut wine

a silken touch
of gentle moonshine
creeping across the
glistening sands
softly awakens
the hermit crabs

basked in silver
basked in light
the darkness gone
the night does shine
and the shores
become alive

softly softly
the eastern wind
rustles the palm trees
fringing shores
waiting for
the golden dawn

the golden dawn
the scorching sun
that wakens
all those sleeping souls
yet tonight the moon
does steal the show

 

(Another poem inspired by the moonlit nights in the Maldives)
 

 

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Island Life

 

call of the sea
the rhythm of the waves
the song of soaring sea gulls
across an azure bay

fishermen out at first light
tossing their lines on the tuna belt
the same hands that built
their slim wooden crafts
from tall coconut palms
so serene as they glide by
on a calm and sparkling sea
white sails filled with goodwill
definitely dolphin friendly

waiting for the daily catch
women bend their backs
as they draw the water
from the old mosque well
their brimming pots held
proudly high on their heads
jet black hair rolled into a bun
oiled, smooth and silken
graced with a solitary jasmine

tiny thatched cottages
simple and bare
filled with nothing but hard work
and laughter drifting from inside
mingling with the salty air
a child smiles at the door way
curly hair, crooked teeth and bare feet
but who needs sandals anyway
on these soft pristine white sands
on these innocent islands

 

(A poem dedicated to the Maldives)

 

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SAILING UNDER MOONLIT SKIES

 

let us set sail on a sunset sky,
feel the wind against our hair,
let us savour the spray
that soaks our faces,
let us glide across endless horizons,
into a moonlit night,
let us set sail on the dying sun,
and wait for the moon to arise,
flooding the sea
with silver lights,
above a million stars,
winking at our grateful hearts,

let us rig up a lively jib,
against the rising breeze,
caress the hungry sails,
and drift across dancing waves,
feel the rising rhythm in our souls,
sometimes a samba, sometimes a waltz
sometimes silence, nothing at all,
let us set sail and dream away,
let our souls, our thoughts, and minds
fly free across a silvery bay,
let us be content
in a moonlit heaven,
let us go sailing by

 

 

(Another poem inspired by sailing in the Maldives )

 

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BURNING TROPICAL AFTERNOONS

 


burning tropical afternoons
among trails of bougainvillea
and frangipani
I see the praying mantis
rather invisible
on a green palm frond
watch the women
fetch the water
from the tiny well

laughing faces
coarse hands
foreign tongues
small beads of sweat
glisten on their
long arched necks
jasmine flowers
and hibiscus
an unwilting dream.

 

(I drew inspiration from the hard working island women of the Maldives)

 

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