16.1 Third Infiltration
At this juncture of deadlock and oral confrontation, Lord Bandon, ‘The Abandoned Earl’, Commander-in-Chief of the Far East Air Force, stepped in and spoke with both parties to calm down the situation. Adaran released the prisoners. Prime Minister Virgo agreed to open talks over Gan and these negotiations would be carried on with the Sultanate of the Maldive Islands.
Lord Bandon appointed the High Commissioner in Ceylon Sir Arthur Moyler, the Assistant Undersecretary to the Secretary of State W W Wicks, the First Secretary of the British High Commission Keith West and the Bandon himself as the British team.
Richard Whyte sat at his office nodding his head to hear the news. None over there was aware of the role of Arthur Moyler.
The Maldive Delegation included Prime Minister Virgo and three government representatives in Ceylon; Hills, Orchard and Sands. Only the prime minister knew he was to meet Arthur Moyler who happened to replicate a fake agreement in 1944.
By the end of January ’60, they reached a settlement whereby the British would keep the base of Gan for thirty years paying nothing – and not hundred years. The British would send an aid package of 850000 pounds to be used to improve health, education, fisheries and communication. An airfield on Hululé Isle lying close to Malé was negotiated and a few months later, two British officers would arrive in order to start work.
Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations C J M Portal arrived in Malé on HMS Gambia, on invitation. The ship reached Malé and fired a 21-gun salute. And then a muzzle-loader cannon replied in firing 21 times. Flags were everywhere. The state barge rowed towards the ship in full ceremony to fetch the minister, Lord Bandon and his delegates to the capital.
They were received by Prime Minister Virgo and his representatives in white tunics and sarongs with gold stripes on the epaulettes. And women wearing saris and faskuri-hedun – national dress – among an accepted dress code for official functions.
Another trendy observation was the new uniforms of the schoolgirls; pleated, hem belted, knee-length white frocks with short sleeves.
The agreement was signed on February 14th and there was a football match between the English crew and a Maldive team.
Prime Minister Virgo declared that the USIR had been dissolved. The British withdrew the regiment in Gan and the radio jamming vessel was taken away from Malé waters. As the most important part of the agreement, the British had to find a settlement between Addu Atoll and the capital of Malé.
Regrettably, Adaran refused to budge. Addu folks were enjoying an unmatched lifestyle with services and consumer goods they had never seen before. Those incidents taken place in the Suvadives spurred Addu opinion against the prime minister and the Brits knew any action against Adaran would alienate the atoll against the base.
Adaran and the capitalists ran trading operations and collecting taxes unremittingly. The rebel republic was growing rich.
Dirk Wyse Dwire arrived in Addu Atoll to convince the self-proclaimed leader that attitudes of the Malé Government towards the Addu people had changed. Those talks were heated. Adaran lost his patience and raised his voice in an irate manner, “We want our lives to go without hindrance and we have no interest to establish talks or relations with Malé.”
It was Tuesday night and third day of Ramadan was over. It rained a thunderstorm. Mala dined at the mess as she was ordered to wait at the base.
An RAF Transport Command aircraft, a Handley Page Hastings, flew straight over the airstrip revving its engines, its navigational lights glowed in a blur in the falling rain. Its pilot decided to abandon touchdown and go-around.
She came out of the mess in a raincoat. Twenty minutes passed, an emergency siren alarmed and there was havoc. Fire crew and marine boats set off. Mariam Mala ran to the base hospital in the rain.
The aircraft struck the water surface over three kilometres short of the runway threshold. Six crews and fourteen passengers were evacuated and carried on the Pinnace 1374. Lieutenant Marvin Edward called her to join him in an ambulance. All occupants were rescued while the aircraft was lost.
It rained through the week. Mala climbed a doni wearing a mackintosh over her white shirtdress, in caramel brown loafers, a thin brown belt and a brown leather bag over her shoulder, an identity pass around her neck on a blue string. She wore a lustrous lipstick that she bought from NAAFI.
She was under the spell and extremely sensitive to erotism. When they banked on the shore, somebody carried her on his arms to dry ground as usual not to wet her shoes. She walked to the hospital in the rain. Mala made few changes that day. She was not wearing the girdle. It was in the bag with the Leica 35 mm camera. She nursed a cup of coffee by the grey pedestal table.
Ali Huzeir sat in the lobby on the first chair right beside the door. She entered and took a leg onto the Bakelite spurting her dress. Ali Huzeir squinted his eyes as he felt a novel sensation. “Don’t have wrong ideas!” uttered Mala, “Don’t look!” Huzeir took his eyes away.
Intessar, his wife, sat next. She mocked by saying, “He’s up like a mosquito net.”
“What brought you here?” asked Mala.
“My wife,” he grinned showing the gap between his teeth, “she’s having complaints.”
“Complaints!” groused Intessar, “I only want to get your attention.”
“Hoax! Are you saying you faked it to draw my attention?”
“Dee! What are we doing here?”
Mala interrupted, “What exactly is your problem?”
“He goes to Feydu every night to seek a woman. He does not want to sleep with me,” complained Intessar.
“How long have you been married?”
“It’s been more than a year. I am still a virgin.”
“You never had sex?”
Ali Huzeir shook his head with a grin.
“Why did you marry her?” asked Mala.
He replied, “It’s a promise.”
“You are a loophole!” Mala dropped her leg and crossed the floor.
Rain stopped and she climbed a bicycle with the bag on her shoulder. She rode across the runway to the far side of the island. Air Traffic Controller at the newly erected tower saw her bike away. Nobody could miss Nurse Deeni in a white shirtdress.
She raced south wondering which way to turn east. The coastal road would be safer though still risky to come across a truck or a jeep. The other lane lies parallel to the airstrip and she could be spotted by people across the empty field. Mala decided to climb the coastal road, hide her bicycle in the brush and make it on foot to east over a quarter of a mile.
She was very lucky. Mala reached the coast to find a huge freighter wrecked on the reef. Zodiac, the Inshore Rescue Craft, was in water liberating its Italian crew climbing down one by one on a line. And The Target Towing Launch was circling outside the reef, waves crushing on the rocks in a northeast monsoon. There were several men on the south beach.
She took the chance to bike up towards east. At a good location, not too far from the tube houses, she hid the bike in the bushes. Mala walked rest of the way up from the shore. There she heard some noises and hid behind the wet leaves. Women engaged in cleaning the area or taking a break chatted with a bunch of carpenters working in the shade of trees. She stepped away and removed her dress, put it in her handbag and hid in the foliage. Then she removed her shoes. She picked the Leica and moved on to the tube houses – it was hanging in mid-air.