A Story from the Maldives: A Day on the Beach | By: Ibrahim Waheed | | Category: Short Story - Self Realization Bookmark and Share

A Story from the Maldives: A Day on the Beach

A Story from the Maldives: A Day on the Beach

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

She lay on the beach, content for the time being.

Billows of dark water that roved the oceans at the whim of the prevailing winds found the barrier reef almost by accident, lost their composure in an explosion of pure dazzling white as they were torn to bits on the coral, poured over into the lagoon, regained a semblance of their former dignity as they changed color from dark blue through aquamarine to turquoise, only to dash in cascades of white foam on the living coral reef that fringed the small island. Whatever little was left of all that energy lapped away like liquid crystal at the sugar-white coral sand on which she had spread her scarlet beach towel.

Generated by the heat of the tropical sun that warmed the island and made the sea sparkle, a cooling breeze blew in gently from the sea, making the fronds of the coconut palms on her right dance like virgin damsels in grass skirts. The air carried with it that special tang of the sea that always felt so pristinely pure and natural. For the first time in her life, she felt peace caress her face.

A bunch of fresh-cut frangipani blossoms kept her company, lying gently on a mat of woven screw pine leaves that had been placed within reach. A tall, frosted glass by her side contained the heady ingredients making up an island punch.

This was freedom, she told herself, and fought to tear her mind away from the grind she had left behind. She almost felt the whoosh of the warm, stale air every subway train pushed out of its way as it entered a station. A whiff of something left behind by a dog just beside the patch of ice on the gray of the sidewalk pushed itself up from the depths of a stifled memory. The push and the jostle of pale, grim faces rushing to meet endless deadlines floated before her eyes. For the second time that morning, she blessed those long forgotten ancestors of the inhabitants of this land who had decided to settle here in this tropical paradise.

Someone stood on the beach, hoping for a better day.

She wished it were her that lay on the beach on that soft scarlet towel. All she had at home was a crude kunaa mat, made of woven reeds. She, too, longed for a cool drink by her side, served by someone who said beautiful words of welcome and always said thank you. She wished that she too had loads of that foreign money that one always said thank you for. She wished that she too could earn enough to take a holiday, go away somewhere else, lie on a beach and be served and thanked by someone else.

She wanted to be somewhere else like that wonderful country she had seen on television at the island chief’s.  She had seen young people like the girl on the beach go in shining cars to places called discos. She had seen them dance in the bright colored lights and enjoy themselves. All she had, instead, was an island with nothing more than a few coconut palms. The sea hemmed her in from all sides.  She thought of the simple bowl of rice that passed for lunch, the coir and wood bed she shared with her sister, and the rusty old bicycle that served as family transport. And she wished for better and for more.

Across two meters of sparkling white beach, the foreign tourist and the native waitress looked at each other for a brief while. They exchanged polite smiles. Deep down in their hearts, they envied each other.


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