07.01 A Nest in the Woods
Rains continued and sunny days occurred in between. Flight Lieutenant Marvin Edward was getting busier day by day. More locals arrived for treatment at the base hospital. He probably attained more experience here at the base than he could have done his entire life at home. Mala attended job with men and women on boats to Gan. Footloose Habib was in Malé for some time.
On a moonlit night, she lay in bed beside Muskan who was fast asleep. Lilies gleamed in the moonlight outside the heavy wood-framed door set facing the patio and painted white. Each glass panel of square metre and rare to find in the region. No curtain.
She saw a movement and then a man appeared by the patio. She realised it was Huzeir. Mala got up from bed and reached the door.
“What happened to you?” she asked in shock.
He wore a large piece of a white underwear leaving the legholes gapped between. He lowered to the patio deck. Mala reached him and noticed a bump on his forehead hidden behind long hair.
“Did someone hit you?” she asked.
“What happened, Ali?” And he won’t say.
Next day she learnt that Ali Huzeir entered Redi Ahamma’s wife. He came with a piece of firewood and hit him in the forehead as he pulled up his face from the bed. Redi Ahamma controlled himself and didn’t hit again. He continued to wield it like a bat and did not give a chance for Huzeir to grab his mundo. He ran out naked.
Huzeir hid somewhere because neighbours were alerted and coming after him. Huzeir stole an underwear from a drying line and reached Finiveli seeking sanctuary. An underwear that belonged to a big papa. He escaped to Maradu at dawn.
They rolled on a tractor bumping towards north, crossed Shrine Road into a narrow path and continued through the woods. Trees on both sides and the canopy blocking sunlight. Another turn into a winding path that the tractor could barely roll. Branches brushed on their faces. They arrived at an arch covered of creepers.
Savari Shakir arrived with three pieces of heavy luggage and a wooden box. Four men could barely carry the load of the wooden box. They walked up a stone path to a green turf and there stood a two-storey house behind the trees in a clearing. A steep shingle roof in breadth to his view. A brick house painted white without plaster on the walls. Four steps to climb to the main door and two windows on each side, five on the top. A space cleared in the woods and bush trees with red flowers plotted everywhere. A row of bush trees by the wall cropped into balls. Entire area covered of foliage from tall green trees.
This house belonged to Bèru Toib Manikfan. His father was a revered southerner; the late Fandyar Manikfan, a former magistrate. Toib Manikfan was appointed as a representative of the government. He was staying in Bèrumathi and this house in Mulekedé left empty.
“This is your bedroom,” showed the owner, “six bedrooms in the house and each bed with mosquito net. Ground floor you prefer!”
“This looks nice!” said Shakir, “What’s that canal down there?” He looked out through a window and saw a stream flowing a few yards from the house.
“Water from the lagoon,” replied Toib Manikfan, “Take a look around this afternoon. That lagoon is full of pebbles. Scenery around is beautiful and green.
“I am told to give you the best accommodation. You’ll find a water closet and dining in the annex. Two of the helpers will come to clean the grounds, cook food and wash your clothes. Only other person who comes here is Sardar Habib. He’s in Malé.”
“A Moto Guzzi,” he said, “It’s in the annex and a bicycle too. Anything else?”
“This is fine. Thanks.”
“I’m only hurrying to go home on the tractor. Get settled and come to my place. Get close to the boats and ask around for Bèrumathi, my home.”
Savari Shakir peeped into the annex. There stood a red colour motorbike with a silver tank and looked old and where it belonged. An Italian model of 250cc with a saddle seat.
He stepped out of the door towards the canal. Grass was thick and the ground wet away from the immediate surrounds of the house. Undergrowth cleared on both sides of the brook near the house location leaving green trees and ample lot of shade. Branches and foliage covered a canopy over the stream. A rise of bushes ran along the banks of a thirty-feet wide creek. He could not see the bottom because of green that reflected the water. Tall trees with thin winding branches and moss grown on the trunks. No palms in this area. Perhaps a fast-flowing stream to clear the leaves and both ends curved into the coppices.
There stood a border wall several steps behind the house and seemed like thickets beyond. He couldn’t walk along the bank towards left or right. One thing quite distinctive around he noticed was the green shade of the trees; not entirely tropical and not entirely dark green.
Shakir returned to the annex and peeped into a dark cellar; an inside wood kitchen. The dining hall look large enough. He entered the water well closet to take a shower.
He put the kettle on and lit the firewood stove. He took a chair and a table outside and set by the porch in view of the stone pathways. Those flowering trees were marked with empty bottles embedded or coconut husks and stones placed around. Stone paths snaked through the plots and not necessarily in any order.
He brought a pot of tea, cup and saucer, and sat down to write some note.
A girl appeared from the south end of the house. A yellow figure thin like a matchstick with straight hair. She wore a single piece top that barely reached her crotch with a deep plunging neck, halter strap and backless. A boho top – batik print in gold, blue and black.
“You’re having tea already!” she said and Shakir couldn’t grasp a word, “I come to make tea.”
“Who are you?” he asked.
“Samara,” the girl replied leaving a wrapping of short eats on the table. She had shaved her armpits and wore a golden chain on her neck with wet hair, fresh out from bath.
“What was your name?”
“Samara. I work here with my mother,” she only spoke in Addu dialect.
“How did you come in?”
“From the east gate.”
Shakir pulled up from the chair and went around the house towards the backyard. There was even a better garden before the wall, a stone paved patio with wrought iron table and chairs. He walked up a narrow stone path covered of vines to the southeast corner and there stood another gate with a closing door on the wall.