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The Hilali Kalo family and King Usman
As told by the famous Burara Mohamed Fulu and written by Al-haj Ibrahim Ibn Ismail Feeboa
Printed in sections by Sa-ada Press, Male' 1959-1970
Translated by Fareesha Abdulla, assisted by Majid Abdul-Wahhab and Michael O'Shea
2000-2011


 
Burara Koi, the narrator of this entertaining ancient history, portrays the personality and character of Mohamed Takurufan in a way that challenges the image of the devout Islamic hero created from this tale in the twentieth century by Male' writer and judge Hussein Salahudeen.

Burara's story was current in the 19th century, and includes stories dating back to 14th century Maldives.

Mohamed Takurufan is described as a sorcerer, an adulterer, a cheat and someone who enjoys trapping birds during an extended adolescence.

Salahudeen's bowdlerised version, which deleted large sections of Burara's old story and sometimes added entirely new material, became part of national myth during Gayoom's rule (1978-2008).

It presented Mohamed Takurufan as the Islamic liberator of Maldives from oppressive Portuguese Christian rule in the 16th century.

Salahudeen's version contained nothing incompatible with his limited concept of Mohamed Takurufan as a holy warrior for Islam.

Fortunately, Burara's unexpurgated epic survives, with a rich cast of characters from all levels of Maldivian society.

It tells much about Maldivians, and Burara's epic has far greater 'nationalist' credentials than Salahudeen's book.

Burara gives vivid descriptions of magic, ship-building, battles and political intrigue, interspersed with humorous mocking anecdotes.

The text was found in the royal palace, and first published during the rule of chief minister then President Ibrahim Nasir.


Official records concerning king Usman are limited. He ruled in 1388 for less than three months, according to the Radavali and the Tareek translated by HCP Bell.

Usman came from Fehendoo island in Goidoo atoll, and he had probably been chief minister during the reigns of queen Radafati (1379-1381) and queen Rehendi Dainu (1384-1388).

He was buried in Guraidoo island in Kolumadulu atoll, where he had been banished by his successor, king Hilali Hassan.

Hilali Kalo appears in official records as Hassan Kuja, one of two sons of Muslim Abbas of Hilali.

Hassan Kuja's brother was Doshi Kuja who became the malim of Male's Friday mosque.

Hassan Kuja (Hilali Kalo) married Golavehi Kabulo and their two sons were Hassan and Hussein. The son Hassan toppled Usman and became king Hilali Hassan I from 1388 to 1397. The son Hussein was king from 1398 to 1409.

Note from Department of Education, Male': This book tells the story of Bodu Takurufan as told by the well-known storyteller Burara Mohamed. The only intention of the Department of Education in publishing this book is to re-introduce the traditional way of story-telling. The department is not asserting that the historical information in this book is reliable.
June 1958, Ali Ahmed, under-secretary, Education department

No: 153. Title of the book: The story of Bodu Takurufan Vol.1
Writer: Al-Haj Ibrahim Ibn Ismail Feeboa
This book is passed by the Education department.
June 1958, Ali Ahmed, under-secretary, Education department



During the reign of king Usman of Fehendoo, the chief minister was Nisfu. He was a great astrologer and able to divine auspicious times for important events up to four years in advance. Every day after the dawn prayer, Nisfu would go to the northern side of Male' and check the beach.

Meanwhile there was a man living in Hulule' who was descended from the Hilali family. He was known as Hilali Kalo and he lived there with his wife. She was many months pregnant when she said to him one day, 'Male' is a much more comfortable place to live than here, my husband, shall we go there?'
Hilali Kalo never disagreed with his wife, so he went to see a boatman and borrowed a dinghy before going to bed that night. Early next morning, he put his wife aboard the boat and began rowing with his bare hands towards Male'.

Nisfu was watching at the beach when the couple came into the harbour and grounded the dinghy. Kalo's wife tried to step ashore but she fell face down in the shallow water. As she struggled onto dry land, Nisfu went back to his house to have breakfast and rest.

Later he went to the royal palace and spoke with the king.
'Your majesty, a pregnant frog has descended on Male' and taken the island under her belly.'
'Have you gone mad, chief minister?' asked the king.
'I haven't gone crazy. Listen, your highness! The Hilali Kalo couple in Hulule' have decided they don't like it there and they've moved to Male'. Don't let them settle here.'
King Usman used his authoritative voice as he spoke. 'It is inappropriate to mistreat such poor people. What is it to us, if that pair settle here? They haven't said anything to hurt us. Why shouldn't we let them live here?'
'You may end up suffering, your highness,' warned Nisfu. 'Don't do it! Don't give them permission to stay. If your highness allows them to build a house, there'll be serious consequences!'

Later, Kalo formally approached Nisfu to ask for a piece of land to build a small house. The minister went back to the palace and told the king about the request. 'Your excellency, if they settle here, there'll be big trouble. The wife is pregnant with twins. As your humble servant, I warned you about this the other day. Refuse permission!'
'Poor people like that should not be mistreated!' the king insisted. 'If they found life too difficult on their island, then they should be given a place to stay.'
'I have advised you against it,' Nisfu grumbled after he heard the king's words, and left the palace for the Lonuziyaraiy Kolu, well away from where other people lived. There, he showed Kalo a bit of land among the quinine bushes.

Immediately, Hilali Kalo cut corner studs from the trunk of a wild screw-pine and prepared to start building. Meanwhile, the minister kept a close watch for the exact moment that construction began.

'Kalo, if everything is ready,' said his wife, 'shall we get busy and start building the house today?' She indicated the exact spot for the main stud. Kalo set it in place and commenced building.

While Nisfu was watching, a particularly auspicious moment arrived and he decided to leave, pretending that he had just been casually strolling by and noticed the building had begun.

He went straight home and checked his astrological charts and discovered that if the couple lived in that spot with their house built that way, they would eventually be a serious threat to the supremacy of the king.

Nisfu went to the palace to warn Usman yet again. 'Your excellency, if that couple are allowed to build their house in that manner, your reign will not be secure. Send an order for it to be dismantled.'
'Look minister!' retorted the king. 'That sort of decision puts a very heavy burden on poor people!'
But Nisfu would not give up. 'If they stay, there'll be trouble.'

The king finally yielded and issued a command that the couple be told to dismantle the house and start building again. Nisfu was still on his way to deliver these instructions when Kalo's wife told her husband to chop off the main stud at ground level before doing any more building. Since Kalo never disagreed with anything his wife suggested, he chopped off the stud and had only just finished removing it when the minister arrived.

'The king's order is that you people dismantle the house and then rebuild it again and stop causing trouble.'
Obediently, Kalo pulled his house apart and removed the corner studs.
'You may now rebuild the house, and no more problems please.'

After Nisfu left, Kalo's wife told her husband to place a new corner stud directly on top of the original one. He did as he was told and the couple made themselves comfortable.

Kalo's wife's pregnancy progressed at the same rate as the pregnancy of Nisfu's wife. Later, when the minister checked the birth records, he discovered that his own wife gave birth to a boy in the early part of the most auspicious period, whereas Kalo's wife gave birth to twin boys at the peak time. In fact, at the very moment Nisfu had wanted for the birth of his own child.

The three boys were taken to their two houses. On the seventh day, Kalo named his first son Hassan and the second, Hussein. Nisfu named his own son Mohamed Manik. When the boys reached their seventh year, they were circumcised. All three recovered and stayed healthy.

One day Nisfu went to the palace and approached the king, 'Your excellency, may I take Kalo's children? Even if I take one, that would help the poor family.'
He kept insisting until the king said, 'Alright, if you can look after them, you may take them.'
'I don't know about two children, but I can look after one of them,' replied Nisfu as he quickly left and headed towards the couple's house.

Kalo's wife had a boy on each side when she called out for her husband. He came straight away. 'Nisfu is on his way to take one of our children! Which one shall we give him? Over there is Hassan and here is Hussein. Hussein's the oldest isn't he?'
'It's up to you, my wife,' sighed Kalo.

While they were discussing this, Nisfu arrived. 'King Usman has ordered that you hand over one of your children.'
'Come in,' said the wife. 'Which one of the two boys would you like to take away? Over there is Hassan and here at the front is Hussein. It is easiest to take Hussein.'
Nisfu took the boy home.

So the twins grew up in separate houses, and they were around ten to twelve years old when Nisfu went to see the king and said, 'Your excellency, send one of Kalo's children away from this island. If you don't, it could cause your highness serious trouble.'
'What offence have they committed? What have they said?'
'If both those boys settle here, it may bring you a lot of trouble.'
The minister was insistent but the king said, 'What have these boys done? If we act like that without good reason, people will curse us!'
'Your excellency, the boys haven't committed an offence and haven't said anything offensive. I know a way to do this without any bad consequences for your royal self.'
'In that case, go ahead.'

Nisfu returned to his house and slept through the night. After the dawn prayer, he went to the end of Kottey and waited for the sun to rise. He returned home for breakfast and then walked to Kalo's house where Hassan was eating his first meal for the day. After the boy finished, the minister asked him if he wanted to go to the beach for some fresh air. They walked to the northern beach where a boat was arriving. Nisfu waited until the vessel was about to moor and he called out, 'Which island is this vessel from?'
'This is the Landoo tax boat,' came the reply.
'Don't anchor the boat,' ordered the minister. 'Take Hassan here to Landoo, and your boat will not have to pay government tax for four years.'
The crew took Kalo's son aboard, then turned their boat around and headed off to their island.

Kalo's other son Hussein grew up in Nisfu's house. After Hassan had been sent off to Landoo, the minister went to the palace to see the king. 'I have sent Kalo's son Hassan away, your excellency.'
'Did you avoid any embarrassment to me?' the king asked.
'I coaxed the boy out for a walk around the island. We went to the northern beach. There was a ship that had just arrived. I asked where it was from and they said from Landoo, so I sent the boy with them. As I came back from the beach, some people on the street asked me what I was doing. I told them I had sent off a young man to look after an island.'

The minister returned home and rested on a pillow on the small bench bed. As he lay there, Hussein came up and sat on a long bench nearby, lifted Nisfu's feet onto his lap and began to massage them. Things like this made the minister more fond of Hussein than he was of his own son.

The minister returned to his astrological work, and he did the readings and calculations for the next four years.


Four years later, one night after dinner, Nisfu lay down to rest and Hussein came in and began to massage his legs. A little later, the minister stood up and told Hussein to follow him. He took the boy outside and looked up into the sky. It was very clear. 'Since you hardly ever sleep at night, wake me if I fall asleep when that reaches mid-heaven.' He pointed out a particular star and then returned to rest on his mattress. Hussein stayed awake, massaging the minister's legs. Nisfu fell asleep and Hussein continued the massage until he realised he needed to go to the toilet.

This really isn't very good! thought Hussein. I've never had to go in the dark before! The minister might wake up as soon as I leave and he'll accuse me of being ill-mannered. So I shouldn't leave him. I'll try to hold on.

Hussein continued massaging his master's legs until his stomach began rumbling like the full moon tide breaking on a shallow reef. He realised he would have to go, and decided to make a quick trip to the beach and hurry back before the Nisfu woke up. Hussein ran towards edge of the island and down to the shore, lifting his sarong and jumping blindly off the edge of some eroded land into very deep water. Suddenly he was immersed over his head. Scared and shocked, he forgot about going to the toilet and realised he had better hurry back before the minister woke up. He crawled out of the water and ran as fast as he could.

Two men dressed in white called out to him near the octagonal bathing tank and said, 'Hussein, here's a chair for you.' When he went over to them, he found three chairs with the men sitting on two of them.

Meanwhile the chief minister woke up and realised Hussein was missing. He went into the inner room where his son Mohamed Manik was sleeping and dragged him off the bed. 'Why are you hurting me?' cried out the boy and protesting he hadn't done anything wrong.

Nisfu ignored his son's cries and hauled him quickly outside. When they reached the area where the Henveiru gate is now, Hussein was sitting with the men in white and he noticed Nisfu and knew it was time to go. Hussein had only taken a few steps when he turned back and saw the two men in white had disappeared. The three chairs were also gone.

Nisfu approached Hussein he told him to wring the water from his sarong onto his son's head. 'Have you gone mad, minister?' asked Hussein. 'I can't shake water off my body like someone who's just been bathing.'
But Nisfu told him to stop playing games and he pulled off Hussein's sarong. Leaving him naked, Nisfu twisted the wet sarong over Mohamed's head. Then he took both boys home.

Next day at dawn, Nisfu went to speak with the king. 'Your excellency, you must give Hussein Kalo some work to do.'
'Bring him here then,' said the king, and after meeting the boy, Usman liked him and agreed to keep him as an assistant. Within three days, Hussein was a royal servant.


Hassan in Landoo
Now listen!
One night in Landoo island, Hassan couldn't go to sleep after dinner. He got up, remade the bed and killed a few bed-bugs. Then he recited a lot of prayers and lay down again, but sleep wouldn't come. Sometimes he felt hot, other times he thought he was being bitten by bugs. So he got up again and walked to the windless calm side of the beach. There was a ship with two masts.

The yardarms were drawn up the mast but the sails were furled. The boat was moving towards the shore. He began to realise it would soon run aground and that there couldn't be anybody on board or they would have turned the boat around by now. For sure, there was nobody on it! He ran towards the shore and the exact moment that he stepped into the water, to swim across and climb into the ship, was the same time that Hussein fell off the eroded edge of Male'.

When Hassan got aboard the ship, it was time to drop the anchor. The vessel came to a halt and as Hassan secured it, he realised it might be a European ship. I'd better check out what's on board, he thought, there might be pork and alcohol here!

Hassan lifted the cargo-hold cover and found hessian bags full of gold pieces. He went on into the deck cabin. There he found a chest the same length as the room. He opened it with the key sitting in the lock. The real treasure wasn't in those hessian bags! It was here! The chest was full of diamonds and precious stones. What am I going to do with all this! he thought. I'll take it to Male' as a gift for the king.

Hassan left the ship and gathered men old enough to act as crew. He gave them as much gold as they could carry and asked if they would like to accompany him to Male'. Enough of them were willing, so they embarked.

After many days and nights of sailing, the vessel cruised through Bodu Kali as the sun was rising, and anchored at Doonidoo. Hearing of their arrival, the king summoned the harbourmaster. 'Go and find out where that ship has come from, and its destination. Find out whether it's owned by a prince or minister or merchant, and what sort of trade it wants to do. Then report back to me.'

The harbourmaster sailed off to the ship, and made a windward approach. 'Who owns this vessel? Where is it sailing to, and what is your business here?' he shouted.
'This ship doesn't belong to anyone important and it doesn't want to trade,' cried out Hassan in reply. 'It carries a gift of gold for king Usman from Hassan, the son of Hilali Kalo, who was sent to Landoo.'

The harbourmaster returned to the palace and addressed the king. 'Hassan, the son of Kalo, who was sent to Landoo, has arrived with a ship full of gold for your highness.'
'Then bring him here!'

So the harbourmaster brought Hassan to the palace. The young man stood at a distance and paid his respects. Then he moved closer and touched the king's feet. Hassan knelt down on the soft coir rug and told the king he had come with a ship full of gold as a gift for him.
'What do you do on that island,' the king asked.
'I am a fisherman, your highness,' Hassan said, 'and your highness may not fully understand how addicted to it I have become. I must fish at least once a day and also at night but even then my craving to fish isn't satisfied. Once a month I go to a shallow reef over fifty miles out to sea. If I don't drop my line there, I don't get any sleep and I lose my appetite.'
'About this good shallow spot. You know how to get there?' inquired the king who was very fond of fishing.
'Of course I know the place, your majesty. I sail there every month.'
'Well,' said the king, 'since your ship and its gold are a gift for me, shall we going fishing in it? It's all rigged to sail.'

At that moment Hassan glimpsed his younger brother Hussein walking through one door and out through another, and carrying the royal dinner. My brother will do well out of all this too, thought Hassan.

'I hate watching others catch fish when I don't have my fishing gear, your highness. May I fetch my line from home?'
'Make sure you hurry,' said the king. 'Off you go then.'

The king sat down to his dinner while Hassan ran to his parents' house, calling out as he entered, 'Mother, where's my father's fishing line?'
'In the frond basket in the roof,' she answered.
Hassan climbed up to have a look. The basket was well sealed, so he opened it carefully and found the fishing line rolled into a neat bundle. He sat in the roof, carefully taking hold of the two ends of the line and then jerking it into a tangle.
'I guess this is why you told me not to touch things that belong to someone else, mother,' Hassan yelled from the roof.

King Usman finished his meal and Hassan had still not returned, so he sent a guard to fetch him. The soldier found Hassan up in the roof, shouting at his mother.
'By order of the king, you are to come to the palace immediately.'
Hassan said he wasn't going to be late, and told his mother to cook a little bit of sweet sticky rice. She went to the kitchen, boiled the rice and added sugar to it.

Meanwhile the guard returned to the palace and told the king that Hassan was coming soon. After a further delay, the king sent the guard back to bring Hassan quickly. Just as the guard reached the main door of Hassan's house, he met the mother who was going in with the steaming hot sweet sticky rice. The vapour went up into the soldier's nostrils making him dizzy. He turned around and staggered away.

Hassan climbed down from the roof when his mother placed the pot in the main room.
'I'll be at the palace straight after my meal,' he called out to the stumbling guard. But to his mother Hassan complained, 'It isn't properly cooked. I can't eat something like this and go fishing. It's just sugar added to boiled rice!'
The guard returned to the palace and reported what Hassan had said.

Hussein was present during this conversation and he said, 'Your highness, I'm Hassan's brother. I know all the fishing places he knows. If you wait for show-offs like him, you'll never go fishing.'

The king thought about this for a while and decided Hussein was right. So he took his courtiers and the young servant to the beach and they all climbed aboard the ship. The sound of royal cannon fire alerted Hassan as they sailed through Gadoo Kolu, and he ran with all the strength in his legs, and slapped his buttocks with both hands, until he reached the Nabudu Kana and began beating the drum that summoned the two regiments.

When he heard the drum, king Usman turned the ship around and came back through Gadoo Kolu. As it passed between Male' and Funadoo and got close to the Male' reef, Hussein jumped over the deck railings into the sea. He swam up onto a rock and called back to the king who was still on board. 'Your excellency, I am Hassan's brother. Let's see how powerful a man you are now! Just try and land in Male'! If you want to stay in Maldives, go to Guraidoo island in Kolumadulu atoll.'

Hearing this aboard the ship, Nisfu called out to Hussein, 'Remember, Hassan is first in line for the throne, then Mohamed, and then Hussein. Ok?'
'Hey chief minister! After Hassan is Mohamed, and then Hussein!' Hussein assured him.

King Usman went to Guraidoo island and stayed there.




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