14.1 Suvadiva Uprising
Everyone had to play a crafty role with mistrust towards the other and wary not to fall into a trap. Jealousy ruled, hate ruled, two islands on far sides of the atoll ruled. Mainly spearheaded by the wealthy merchants and ordinary people left in the middle to take the brunt. And they suffered a lot.
Gado Chief Ali Fano greeted Adaran’s delegation extending a warm welcome and unveiling the hospitality arranged on the behalf. They crossed the great atoll of Suvadiva from Thinadu to arrive at Gado to win support from the bosses like Fano for the cause of alliance.
Pretty girls dropped leis on their necks. Ali Fano wore a white sarong and shirt with a fagudi on his crown. “Distinguished Guests! Delegates from Addu and my fellow verin of Suvadiva! The feast!”
“Dinner time!” cried the delegates, “Ali is fussily the best when it comes to welcome someone to your home.” The length of the table took the breadth of the field. An entire island community could eat for a week with the food left on the table. Women in fàìli and libas, golden necklaces and bangles, flaunted around. A gourmet dinner served on chicken and nobody would have thought of starvation in the atoll.
“Do you truly believe that the English would come with a barrage of guns to defend Suvadiva?” asked Fano.
“Far from it,” replied Mahrab, “Adaran knows of your concerns. He is sending me in charge to India to smuggle guns. He will form his guards in Addu Atoll; the Diavola Force.”
“Are the English not giving you guns?”
“No,” said Mahrab, “They vetoed but I know they are training every English officer at the base to prepare with weapons against an invasion and defend the atoll.
“The Warlord of Thinadu, who keeps a Scaevola Force, will be supplied of guns from Adaran’s shipment. He is a sceptical guy. He is worried about his gold hidden in his fortified barrack. He is scared to death that Virgo might send an army to seize his treasure.”
“We do not have a leader like Adaran,” expressed Fano, “This is a vast atoll. Without a leader, we don’t know a course which way to steer.”
“Obviously, we capitalists stick to our boats and trade. My point of argument is that the central government don’t like us to gain. Otherwise, I have nothing against them.”
“People will suffer!”
“Are you denouncing the USIR?” he cracked pulling the nozzle of the hookah from his mouth.
“Not at all,” Ali Fano got up on his feet, “Gentlemen! Dance and music will follow. Do enjoy this wonderful evening!” he bowed and muttered in Mahrab’s ear, “I go take a leak.”
Chief Fano left the ground and turned into a lane towards his home. Steps hurried, undoing the turban, a red string attached with wooden beads fell into his hand – an ornament of sorcery.
He entered through the gate and went straight to his room to pick his leather clutch full of money. Removed his white clothes and wrapped a worn out mundo.
Fano stepped out from a rear gate that faced the westside berth. He glanced up and down. Fano ran like a thief towards northeast. He didn’t have a shirt, his clutch under an arm, he entered a narrow strip of a rocky path. He reached a doni in the shoal. Fano hopped on and the men pushed the boat into the deep. It was rigged with the sail attached to the yard. They hurriedly took the boat out of the lagoon through a narrow canal in the reef hitting its bottom on the rocks several times. Every time it hit, Fano cried out, “Alifano…my boat!”
Shortly, they were out and sail raised to the mast.
Meanwhile, sixty girls in shift dresses and carrying arches danced under the lanterns on the field to entertain the guests. Nobody bothered about the chief gone missing.
Out at sea, a bright moon helped little to cover an escapade. In half an hour, the doni didn’t push far. An upfront wind slowed their boat. Moonlight illumined the crests of crashing waves on reef rocks on the east. Ali Fano lay low reciting a tasbeeh ‘to travel swiftly’ and watching for a movement on the island.
Eventually, the delegates realised that the chief had fled to Malé. Mahrab grumbled unbelievably, “What’s all this rush! He could have sailed in the morning without adding so much drama!”
They advanced a plan. Mahrab stayed in Gado on his boat. Others returned to send one hundred men of the Scaevola Force from Thinadu.
The Scaevola Force arrived on the following day and at night when everyone slept, climbed stealthily and seized the leading men. Separated from their wives, uprooted from the beds, gagged and packed, beaten and sent all matured men to Thinadu for imprisonment.
Mahrab returned to Addu after raising the United Suvadive Islands flag on Gado.
The Scaevola Force wore a bluish-black uniform and equipped with truncheons. They roamed the island, looting and raping women and children.