07.2 A Nest in the Woods
Shakir returned to the foreground and the girl had gone into the annex. He sat down and dug into some of the stuff she brought.
Samara appeared from the north corner with an ekel broom and began to sweep the verdure.
“Where’s your mother?” he asked.
She stepped up to the table and replied, “She will be here at sunset to prepare dinner.”
“My name is Shakir,” he told her.
“I know. Toibé told me two days ago to clean the house and prepare your room.”
“Are you related to Bèru Manikfan?”
“Yes,” she smiled generously to show yellowish teeth, “my mother’s father and his father’s younger sister are cousins.”
Shakir nodded and picked his cup.
Samara began to sweep the turf from there. She bent down and a tight golden skin wrapped her slim legs firmly. When she turned to pose her back on, she exposed too bare.
Shakir sat there watching her movements. A girl with flat chest and a large birthmark on her left shoulder. She was so tiny and four feet nine inches tall.
“How old are you?”
She straightened correcting her vibrant scarf top from the rear but she got no bums to cover, “Thirty.”
“Really!” uttered Shakir amazed, “I thought you were much younger. Are you married?”
“I was,” she returned, “now divorced. I have two boys, five and seven years old.”
“Are they staying with you?”
“I have to go to Bérumathi,” said Shakir getting up, “I come back in an hour. Will you be here?”
“Yes,” she nodded.
Shakir rode on the bicycle and returned before sunset because he won’t be able to find the narrow path after dark. She was in the annex with her mother. Samara wore a blue slip bottom to avoid mosquitoes from biting her legs.
Food was prepared at their home and carried on plates to Etherevari. He sat down for dinner, “I usually do not eat alone. Why don’t you join me?”
Both women laughed embarrassed. Her mother found an excuse, “I’m going home. Sama will take care of you,” and she left.
Often these ladies won’t eat at the table with a boss. Shakir was only twenty-two years old. Samara stood standing beside the table and she won’t sit.
“I hear there was another official staying here!”
“Riza,” said Samara, “he left two months ago.”
“How old was he?”
“I don’t know. In his fifties, I guess.”
“Do you know Sardar Habib?”
“Yes, I know him well.”
After dinner he went to his room. Samara came in just about the right time as he got undressed.
“I come to bed you,” she said, “I will light a mosquito candle.” This house was fully supplied with all necessities. “Do you want a rub?”
“What?” he asked.
“Of course, I can’t resist.”
The woman tucked her blue slip high up on her waist and climbed the bed. In the glowing light of a burning flame, her skin excelled even brighter, gold and silver on her sheeny body. A table couldn’t be shared but the bed…
“Won’t you be missed at home?” he asked.
She glanced over her shoulder, “Mother will take care of my kids. I can go home at dawn.”
Shakir’s boss said, “I have to go to Maradu. Come with me. We go on the doni. The English want to acquire some land plots in Maradu and the Atoll Chief is calling me to decide. What do you think?”
“It’s up to you, Toibé,” replied Shakir.
“During the World War when they ran the naval base, they were using those places in Maradu. One is the slipway and the other is a prison house. I am thinking to let the English have them. What do you say?”
“It’s up to you.”
“I am not sure how Malé is going to react to this but I’m going to take all the responsibility. They want the plots only temporarily, they say,” said Manikfan.
Both climbed a sailing boat that belonged to him and set sail to Maradu. It was Friday afternoon, rainy and cloudy in the sky.
They went to the slipway on the eastern coast in the north of the island. Then they visited a bunker-like quarter without windows in the northern end of Maradu. Toib Manikfan agreed to pass the lots to the British without condition or rent that could only complicate matters. He signed papers and put down the representative’s seal issued from the central government.
There came two folks with a piece of paper and their names on a list. “Both of you are invited to attend a wedding party this evening at Fairview,” one of them said, “since you’re in the island, we invite you.”
“Very kind of you,” said Bèru Manikfan, “but it’s going to rain.”
“You can stay at the office if it rains,” suggested the chief, “you must not miss this wonderful dinner.”
“What do you think, Shakir?”
“It’s up to you, sir,” replied Shakir.
“Alright, we wait.”
The lawn was filled with white sand. Lanterns lit the courtyard. This house stood whitewashed with glass-fitted windows. The main hall was large enough to accommodate all the invitees if it rained. An excellent buffet laid on a long table in the middle to go around and fill the plates. Two big bowls of rice filled with the best of a kind imported from Burma. Addu cuisine, the spices and side dishes of various types were just nonpareil to any other region in the archipelago.
Mariam Mala attended the wedding party. Shakir passed her within inches but neither knew each other.
“This house is built by a British donation,” Atoll Chief Hazir whispered, “completed in six months.”
“Is that why they call ‘Fairview’?” asked Shakir.
“I bet,” he said, “these curtains are bought from India. Bride’s father is a merchant. He refused to give up his home in Dooran. The English pulled him out.”
“It’s a sincere gesture,” expressed Shakir.
“I’m not convinced,” alleged the chief, “they want to rush things to evacuate Gan. I am not sure who is paying for relocation.”
Rain came down and they ran into the office on Mahan Magu. “We should have taken your Moto Guzzi,” cursed Manikfan, “this rain will not stop.”
Atoll Chief arranged two folding beds placed beside the desks for them to rest.
Next morning Manikfan said, “Let’s have a cup of tea before we go! It’s shining bright.”
They came across three guys and one pushing a wheelbarrow as they turned to Athiri Magu on the way to Koka. “Ali Huzeir,” announced a guy.
“What happened to him?” asked Manikfan.
“Beaten,” he said, “they dumped him on Dooran athiri. He’s out again to hook old women.”
“Old women!” uttered Manikfan.
“Yeah! Mostly married women,” he returned, “he can’t save his dick if someone wished to cut if off.”
“Three months ago, he was caught sleeping with Redi Ahamma’s wife,” added another one.
Savari Shakir glanced at the young chap knocked out in the barrow. His pants ripped. A fair boy who just turned seventeen.