10.3 Hakra Fair
Rainy days and flooded roads. His half-brother returned from the United Kingdom after completing a BA in Architecture. He brought a Sony hi-fi system and Muaz played Bod Dylan on full volume.
“Cut it off!” snapped his grandmother.
“Ma! It’s Blowing in the Wind,” he called.
“It is so irritating! I can’t stand it!”
“Grandpa likes this song!”
“I don’t care!”
Muaz predicted, “Bob Dylan should get a Nobel Prize for penning this song!”
“I don’t give a damn!” she called back.
He inserted Led Zeppelin IV cassette and played Black Dog. His grandmother was fine with that.
He was getting busy with activities in the middle of the night. On the Eighteenth, coincidently on that date, he entered a little café in Henvèru getting caught up in the rain. Muaz surprisingly came across Multi-Ibre at the standing counter.
“Hey! What brings you here?” he quizzed.
“Hello my friend!” uttered Multi-Ibre.
“When did you come, Ibre?”
“I came a week ago,” he responded, “Look there! He is with me. And that is my scooter. Now I am running this Bova Café.”
“It looks like a mosquito!” he uttered reflecting on the scooter, “Hope he doesn’t crush it, I mean, crash,” he referred to the chubby fellow; Ashwar.
“Look at yourself! Mosquito! I am not allowed to bring my vintage cycle.”
“I brought it once. When I passed the President’s Office on it, they stopped me. Confiscated the cycle and gave it back after three months under condition that I do not bring it again.”
“Hello Ashwar!” he called.
Ashwar walked up to him, “How do you do?”
“I’m fine,” he said, “You wrote that note.”
“What note?” enquired Ashwar.
“On rose paper, remember, meet me tonight in the moonlight. How is Gul?”
“Huh!” he gave a slight push and turned away, “I am going to get her back from you guys.”
“He did not want to mention it,” Ibre whispered, “but he has seen a topless photo of Gul.”
“Seriously!” reacted Muaz, “How could it be?”
“You know very well.”
“I swear I did not know about Gul.”
“Don’t lie to me!” cried Ibre, “We still haven’t got the permit of residence in Malé. Legally I am overstaying. Today I voted affirmative for the new guy. Checked. I see this new guy able for the job. This mandatory ‘kuda siti’ blows my mind! Hell with it! We are going to get the better of you! Malé Rat!”
Under new rules passed on recently, island folks could not reside in the capital island of Malé without a valid reason and a permit granted by the authorities in order to control an influx of people populating the island capital at a rapid rate.
“Hey! I am one of you,” reminded Muaz.
“You are working at CTA.”
“Noxious! You do have a grudge, don’t you!”
“Of course, we do,” snapped Multi-Ibre, “And we are going to topple him. You know how belittle we are by calling us island folk. You will find out soon by November Eleventh.”
“Give me a fag!”
“When did you start smoking?”
“Right now! Right now!” he checked his pockets to find a fat note and just that. Muaz thrust it on the top – a big green buck of one hundred rufiya.
“Don’t you have anything smaller?”
“GRRAAGH CHUTE!” Someone just entered the café spitting red on the threshold.
“Give me two fags and change,” he demanded.
Ibre tapped the cigarette on the counter top and tossed it into his mouth. Lit it up instantly with a lighter and passed the fag to Muaz.
He shrugged a little and picked it because he was going to smoke it. Multi-Ibre repeated with the other fag – tapped, tossed it to the lips, lit it and passed.
“Huh!” cried Muaz in awe, “I cannot smoke two cigarettes at once!”
“Take it or leave it!” he shoved, “You poked your head into a snake pit!”
“What do you mean?”
“Here!” he passed a bag full of foreign currency exchange in twos, fives, tens, fifties and hundreds.
“What the hell is this!” cried Muaz.
“Your change,” said Multi-Ibre.
“I don’t want it in foreign currency!”
“This is hard currency.”
“Hardly any hard! Francs, Marks, Lire,” grumbled Muaz, “What am I going to do with this?”
“Take it or leave it!”
“Give me my buck!”
“Give me fifty lari,” bargained Multi-Ibre.
“You owe me ninety-nine rufiya and seventy-five lari. That is a lot of money for me.”
“Muaz! You have more than a buck in that bag. I do not want to keep that trash your president brings into this country. You work there. You can change at CTA on the Dollar Road where all the foreign currency goes in.”
That day just ended. Sunday 18th June; a day this nation voted in favour of a new guy who would become the future president – a future that would last an overbearing three decades.
“I think you are right,” admitted Muaz, “I can see 100-digit banknotes in this bag. Say! Why do you want to vote for a new guy when you do not know him?”
“Knowing is the problem. We know this guy now. We know it is time to get rid of him. That is why our vote is to oust him.”
“Wish you luck with that!”
“Go to hell!”