08.2 Dhekunu Mala
By now they dropped a Styrofoam box into the brook and attached a rope to pull it up and down so they could cross without getting wet. Footloose Habib carried a bag to Etherevari. A breezy and sunny Sunday morning. “The lady will be here at any moment. I will introduce you and go to fetch the boat,” he said.
“Who is this lady?” asked Shakir.
She turned into the stone path on her bike. Mala wore a dark blue faskuri-hedun – a top-tight gown. Those sleeves didn’t reach the wrists and the hem didn’t touch her ankles. That dress didn’t belong to her. She carried a thick folder.
Habib introduced though she heard about a new assistant, “This is Deeni. When she joined as interpreter, we brought you for an additional hand. We had no time to go through a training like she did.”
Shakir stood a couple of inches taller than Mala. They sat down on the patio to have tea. Habib left to fetch one of Bèru Manikfan’s little fishing boats.
“Here is the glossary terms explanation. No need to study anything. Note down what you hear. If you need to know a specific word, refer to the glossary,” she picked another sheet, “And this is important. Words you cannot use and codes we use. Study them.”
She unfurled a map, “The blueprint of Maranga House,” and another large map, “The blueprint of the RAF radio installations building when construction completed in 1944. There are other units around but we don’t know what they are. Transformers, guardrooms, power units. We are after the lost boys’ files and they are discarded in this shelter, here…” she pointed.
“How do you know?” asked Shakir.
“A former official posted here learnt from folks who carried the files from Gan to Hittadu a year ago. Heki Futha was supervising the shift. He said they carried all filing cabinets and files on boats and dumped in here. This shelter was built then.”
“How are you going to get in?” asked Shakir.
“I’m going in there,” she said, “but first I have to look for them. Nobody has seen these quarters.”
“Isn’t that a risk?”
Mala continued, “Saturday evening and through Sunday, this place is almost vacated. There will be armed guards. Dogs are on tethers by the front gate. Security is extremely relaxed.
“Duty offices in the front, communication room in mid hall, fully staffed. A secretariat somewhat staffed. CO’s office and other offices. Bunk rooms to the south. They sleep there, eat there and go nowhere. Storages on the east and these corridors are empty. Parking on both sides and garages by the west…”
“Those rooms will be locked,” said Shakir.
“One way to find out,” returned Mala, “We don’t think they lock anything. Besides, we have no idea. That’s why I’m going in first to take a look inside.”
Samara and her mother came with food packets, “Enjoy fishing! Call us if you will have a barbecue.”
“Take them to the brook,” said Mala, “Let’s wrap up and catch the boat!”
They reached the brook in time to see the sailing doni turn up from the curve poled by Habib.
“This is the wrong idea,” cried Habib, “it’s a long way to pole. Shakir, go on your motorcycle to Shrine Road beach where I moor the boat when we return.”
Shakir helped to load the gear and food packets. Mala climbed the boat and they began to pull out the way he came. By the settlements on Mulekedé coast, Mala hid under a canvas. Shakir thought she was not on the boat when he climbed from the Shrine Road moorage.
Finally, they came out of the interlocked lagoon enclosed by a miniature atoll. Raised the sail and surfed into the open sea. Habib, Shakir and Mala enjoyed a day catching fish.
One moment they saw an RAF speedboat from a great distance and Mala dived under the canvas to hide. They knew it was the new addition, Pinnace 63 ft, Target Towing Launch 1374. If they watched on binoculars, they could see. Though not likely they would watch.
At that point Shakir was holding tight for a pee. In a little boat three could hardly sit together. Suddenly, Mala tucked her gown and revealed her buttocks. Shakir looked away. She lowered over the rim holding to a rope and peed into the sea. Shakir peeped to see thick droplets hitting water. He said, “I have to pee too.”
A mile away from the atoll, Habib unzipped his bag and pulled out a pair of ear muffins. Passed them to Shakir and asked him to wear. He produced two pistols. Mala took the Ceska and sat on the thwart with her legs straddled on to the sides, her gown hung on her thighs. Habib picked a Colt M1911.
First, both of them disassembled and assembled the machines. She could handle a pistol as fast as Habib. Then filled the cartridges and began to fire into the sea in repetition. They were in perfect working order.
They had lunch. “Next Saturday, if weather looks good and Deeni is off, we make an attempt on RAF. Shakir will carry Deeni to Kibili Point,” Habib explained the drill. Shakir could hardly hear a word he spoke since the gunshots deafened him over the muffins.
They rolled back. The sailing boat took a course towards the inlet sea between Kuda Kandu Channel and turned back to Hittadu. Therefore, they entered the blue lagoon – the vast turquoise lagoon.
It was around five in the afternoon. A beautiful day. A nice breeze brushed them. The sea stirred slightly. The lagoon was densely saline. Shakir had a unique experience. He glanced down at the aquamarine waters.
Quite impossible to see the bottom. It wasn’t sea blue but intense blue and planktons in disturbed waters; often if you cannot see the bottom you will not be scared. If you see the rocks in the seabed, you feel the depth.
“There’s a huge fish!” cried Shakir, “It’s huge!”
Mariam Mala who was getting ready to go under the canvas, grabbed the edge and leaned over. Habib as well looked below. A huge whale was right under the little sailing boat.
And then they realised what it was.
“It’s a sub!” cried Habib, “Get the camera!”
“A submarine!” Shakir felt hair-raising.
A sizzling image of a blue whale with a cylinder-shaped hull as wide as the sailing boat below them. Then the sail planes appeared and they could see some details on the top of the conning tower, a red signal light as well. A submarine that entered the blue lagoon immensely magnified and for a while Shakir thought they were going to wreck. Mala began to take photos. Slowly the submarine faded out as it dived deeper. The lagoon couldn’t be that deep however a submarine could enter and dive. Only a British sub could be inside the atoll waters. Savari Shakir was never so scared in his life.
They touched Mulekedé beach. Mala remained hidden under the canvas until the coast was clear for her to step out. Shakir carried her on his bike. Mala climbed on its rear fairing seat tucking her gown, carrying the fish they caught. Shakir returned to pick Habib and his implements bag.
That night they had no barbecue. They left the catch with the Samaras. Mariam Mala went home to Feydu with Habib biking to Maradu.