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The story of Bodu Takurufan part 16
As told by the famous Buraara Mohamed Fulhu
and written by Al-hajj Ibrahim Ibn Ismail Feeboa



 
In the traditional Maldive domestic reception room, there were three platforms.

Looking from the outside door, along the right wall was the bodu-ashi (big bench) about 50 centimetres high.

Along part of the left wall was the kuda-ashi (small bench) also about 50 centimetres high.

Both had built-in storage under them and were overlaid with fine mats and squabs. Across on the far wall was a lower platform called the tiri-ashi (low bench), also overlaid with mats. On top of the tiri-ashi was a couch called dimaa-endu (softwood bed) overlaid with a thick mattress, squabs, pillows and printed linen sheets.

Between the tiri-ashi and the kuda-ashi were a table and a chair. The place of most honour was the dimaa-endu which was seldom used, followed by the kuda-ashi and then the bodu-ashi.


Mohamed went into his father's older sister's house and pulled the curtains closed around the softwood bed and lay down to sleep.

Meanwhile a young man on the beach was washing himself. He stood up and stretched, and wondered about the dinghy he had seen rowing so silently into the island. The dhoani had reached the shore very close to where he was squatting. He didn't see anyone come onto the island. The dhoani had gone back out through the same channel it had entered from, and then disappeared into the darkness. It must be something important, thought the man. I'd better report this to the chief.

When the young man reached the Hussein's house he stood outside, not able to gather enough courage to wake him up. He waited and the chief emerged for dawn prayer. Hussein asked him if he had been out wandering in the bushes until late that night.
'That's not the reason I'm here,' the man replied. 'Last night around midnight while I was at the beach a dinghy rowed into the harbour and up onto the shore very close to where I was squatting. The peopole aboard weren't talking to each other and I didn't see anyone disembark. Then it rowed out through the same channel and disappeared. I wasn't sure if it was an island matter or not, so I couldn't go home without mentioning it to you.'
'Young man, you don't need to worry about what happens at the beach,' the chief assured him. 'Off you go.'

Hussein went to the mosque and when he returned home he called out to his son Hassan. 'Your older brother has returned from overseas.'
Hassan ran out of the house as fast as he could go, straight to the elder sister's house. He opened the front door and lifted the door drape and saw the curtains pulled around the bed. Hassan knew immediately that only Mohamed would sleep that way. He must be exhausted from sleep deprivation and salt spray, thought Hassan. Better not to wake him.

He turned to go and then decided he couldn't leave without greeting his brother in some way. He went back and hesitated again. He went outside, but when he reached the corner of the drooping eaves he remembered it was three years since he had seen his brother and he couldn't just leave without saying anything.

Hassan went back into the house and this time he stood on the lower bench and opened the curtain around the softwood bed. He noticed that Mohamed had lost some of his good looks, and his travels had left his skincolour resembling a ripe banana.
Hassan was so overcome, he called out, 'Dear older brother!'
Mohamed woke up. 'Younger brother, I'm exhausted from all the salt spray, leave me until I can wake up properly.'

So Hassan left him and later that morning, when breakfast was ready for the three men, the chief told his son to fetch Mohamed.
'Father has asked you to come home for breakfast,' Hassan informed Mohamed as he lay on the softwood bed.

Mohamed went to the bathroom and washed his face, and the two brothers walked home together. Their step-mother hand them water as they arrived, and the three men sat on the bench, saying 'bismillah'. As they reach for the food, the chief said, 'Mohamed my son, before you start eating in this house you must divorce your Baarah wife.'
Mohamed dropped his morsel of rice back onto the plate and left.

He went back to the elder sister's house and ate there. Then he collected a bird trap and went out on the sandspit. That night he visited the people who had been to the coir processing area that day, and overnight he made two more traps. The chief destroyed them during the day and each mealtime when he sent for Mohamed and he told his son to divorce, then Mohamed left and returned to his sister's place for food. So the old pattern of behaviour continued, until one morning a ship with two masts and two yardarms sailed through the channel between Kelaa and Dhapparu. It dropped its anchors at Hodaafushi.

The chief watched and went inside and told Hassan that when that ship arrived at Hodaafushi to offload 600 kilograms of rice and two rolls of white cloth. He told his son to prepare their boat. Mohamed saw his brother working on the vessel and left the sandspit. 'Father has said you're going trading, Hassan? Which island are you heading to?' 'No,' said Hassan, 'that foreign vessel has arrived at Hodaafushi and father has told me to pick up rice and white cloth.'
'I'd like to visit that ship,' said Mohamed. 'Take me with you, OK?'

Just then the chief approached and said that Mohamed didn't listen to what anyone said and if he went with them then the chief would stay behind. Immediately Mohamed returned to the sandspit, and Hassan and his father went out to the anchored ship. An Arab came out to the ship's railing and called out, 'Which island are you from?'
'We're from Utheem, in Thiladhunmathi atoll,' they replied.
'Then you would know chief Hussein, the son of Utheem Black Ali Kateeb Takurufan and his Maarandhoo wife. Is he well? And what about Fatma Fan? And Mohamed and Hassan, the sons of their Lhavandhoo mother, are they both well?'
Listen to this! thought the chief. My silly son Mohamed has spread our family history all over India!

The father and son were invited aboard. There were two rattan chairs on the deck. The chief sat in one and the Arab in the other. He moved his chair closer to the chief. 'Hey, isn't that Utheem Hussein a silly man! I mean, think about it. Just because his son Mohamed married a woman from Baarah, he drives him out onto the streets without food! Maybe your chief didn't like the name of the girl his son had married. At the moment, people call her Baarah Boashivalu Bulhaa Fatma's daughter Rehendi Goyye, but that isn't her name. Tell your chief her real name is Amina Rani Kilegefan, and she'll give birth to two kings of Maldives.'

Later, when the rice and rolls of cloth had been transfered and the Utheem boat was ready to leave, a box with straps around it and a sack were lowered aboard and the chief overheard it was gifts from someone for Mohamed Takurufan. Their boat moved away from the large vessel and the chief said to his son that he wouldn't be coming out to foreign ships again.
'There are a lot of gifts coming from overseas for Mohamed, don't you think? And they are far too heavy for this boat. Throw them into the sea.'
'I can't throw away a gift for my own brother,' objected Hassan. 'If the boat is overloaded, I'll jump into the sea.'
Hassan dived overboard.
'Hassan,' yelled his father, 'we can both travel to the island in this boat. Get back on board.'

Hassan swam to the edge and climbed in. They sailed into Utheem harbour and moored, one rope on a post and the other secured on land. 'Don't mention the gifts to your older brother,' the chief warned Hassan as they disembarked.

Hassan gave the 600 kilograms of rice and the rolls of white cloth to the crewmen to carry, and gave his brother's gifts to some others to move to the elder sister's house. He arrived at the sister's house just as Mohamed returned from the sandspit.
'There's presents for you from someone,' Hassan said.
Mohamed cut open the sack and reached in and felt a piece of Turkish paper. He pulled the piece of paper out; it was full of writing. After reading the document, he threw it away and ran out to the sandspit. He searched the horizon but could only see the very top of the ship's sails. He stood there until the sails disappeared completely, then turned around and came to the house.

'That was my teacher,' he told Hassan. 'He's on his way to Arabia and stopped at Hodaafushi hoping to meet me. That's why I ran out there.'
Mohamed went off to the boat shed, picked up his bird trap and went onto the sandspit again.

After noon prayer the chief told Hassan to fetch his brother. Mohamed was catching birds when Hassan approached him. 'Father's asked you to lunch again.'
'It's no use going there just to look at the food and then come back here. Leave me alone.'

Hassan was upset to hear this, so Mohamed put his bird trap back in the boat shed and the two brothers went to the house. Their step-mother handed water around and they sat on the ashi and said 'bismillah'. As they were reaching for the food, the chief spoke. 'Mohamed, my son, if you're not going to divorce your Baarah wife don't you think you should bring her to Utheem?'

The three men finished their lunch, and then the chief went to the middle of the island and called out 'Yoi!' People gathered and together they went into the forest and cut down coconut palms and split the trunks. While some chopped it into shape, others went to the reef to find coral boulders and cut them into small rocks.

When the auspicious day of an auspicious month arrived, they built a new grand house and named it 'The Palace'. When everything was completed the chief told Hassan to fetch his sister-in-law. Hassan was overjoyed and gathered his crewmen. Mohamed saw the boat preparations from the sandspit where he was catching birds and he came up and asked, 'Which island has father asked you to go trading in?'
'Mohamed, I'm preparing the boat for travel to Baarah to bring my sister-in-law here. Father's orders.'
'See me before you leave then,' said Mohamed and he went to his sister's house. That's where Hassan went when the boat was ready.

Their older sister served food to them, and when they'd finished eating the crewmen came in to eat. Mohamed opened up the gift box from his Beypore teacher and inside was jewellery for a woman's legs and arms, and dresses. He packed the dresses in his luggage container and the jewellery into his writing case.
'Take this box and trunk with you to Baarah,' said Mohamed.
The crewmen carried the load to the beach and then aboard the boat. The vessel was punted out of the harbour and set sail for Baarah.

Safely anchored at their destination, Hassan Takurufan had the crewmen carry the case and trunk as they went to the Baarah toddy man's house. He stopped outside and the toddy man jumped up and said, 'What brings you here? Come in!'
'My father has told me to bring my sister-in-law to Utheem,' explained Hassan. 'Can you take the case and trunk to her house and tell her to prepare for the trip?'
The toddy man took the things to the house of Rehendi Goyye, the daughter of Bulhaa Fatma and told them, 'My dear woman, Hassan Takurufan has come for you. You'd better get ready quickly.'
He returned to his own house and served food for Hassan.

Vaaruge Siti Mava Rani Kilegefan heard that Hassan has come for his sister-in-law and she called together all the island women, both the elite and commoners. Meanwhile, after the toddy man left her house, Goyye went to the bathroom and bathed. She put on the dress she usually wore for Eid day and then came out and opened the trunk. She must have liked what she found, because she took off the dress she was wearing and put the new things on - first the new clothes and then leg and arm jewellery from the case. Beautifully adorned she waited for her journey to begin.

Back at the toddy man's house, Hassan finished eating and the crewmen went in for their meal. When they'd done, Hassan ordered them back to the boat, while he and the toddy man went to Goyye's house and found her wonderously dressed and ready to go. Hassan took her by the hand and told the toddy man to take the case and trunk.

As they emerged into the main street, there was Vaaruge Siti Mava Rani Kilegefan with all the elite and common women of the island. They moved to the sides of the road to make way for the trio. When Hassan reached the shore, he lifted his sister-in-law into his arms and carried her onto the boat. Siti Mava Rani Kilegefan faced all the women of Baarah and sobbed, 'Today Rehendi Goyye is being carried by the arms of Utheem Hassan Takurufan.'
Two giant tear-drops the size of tiny coconuts fell from her eyes as Hassan sailed off with his sister-in-law to Utheem.

The odi eased onto the outer mooring pole and the rope tied before the boat swung towards shore where the land rope was secured. The brothers' stepmother and older sister came down onto the beach and when Hassan placed his sister-in-law on dry land, the women took both her hands and lead her into the island.

Mohamed Takurufan was on the sandspit catching birds and he placed the bird trap in the boat shed and went to the new palace and sat on the swing, making it move back and forth. The mother and daughter came in with Goyye. She went into the middle of the house and leaned against the mid-door frame. Hassan came in and lay down on the big bench, resting his head on his hand and admiring his sister-in-law. Then the other two women cooked lunch and served. The step-mother returned home and the chief had just arrived after performing noon prayer. 'Today lunch for you three men is served at the new palace. Go there.'
The chief went off hesitantly. When he arrived, he stopped out the front and looked in to see the lady of the house standing in the mid-door frame. In her new palace, she had become Amina Rani Kilegefan.

Mohamed was in the swing and he jumped up and said, 'Father, come in.'
The chief sat at the head of the big bench and Hassan sat at the other end. Hussein stared at her as Amina Rani Kilegefan came in with a kettle and wash basin and poured the water. The chief looked at her closely.
'What you are thinking is correct,' said the woman boldly. 'You may wash your hands.'
Their fingers accepted the water she poured, and then the three men ate lunch.

Later, when the chief returned home, he said to his wife, 'My Mohamed is a particularly intelligent person. All over the atoll everyone talks about Vaaruge Siti Mava Rani Kilegefan, but that famous woman is not fit to even sit with my Mohamed's new wife, nor even put lime on her betel leaves!'

That night Mohamed went out late to collect string for his bird traps and during the day the chief destroyed both of them. Everything was normal.

However a short time later, the step-mother became ill and died. She was buried and recitations held for ten days and nights. The people of the island were fed twice a day and the two brothers performed all the holy rites required of them.

Many days later, chief Hussein became ill and as he lay dying he spoke with his sons. 'Try and keep a boat to travel around the atolls and trade. Don't abandon trading! If you continue with it, you will be well off. Also, when I die place two female headstones on my grave.' He gave more advice to his sons and then the chief passed away. Once again the recitations were held for ten days and nights and the island people were fed twice a day.

Mohamed and Hassan performed their duties appropriately and as their father had instructed, they erected two female headstones where everyone could see, but also they placed two male headstones underneath them.

The brothers stayed on the island as their father wished and one day Mohamed said to his brother, 'During our father's time and the reign of king Ali, father changed over the Utheem kateeb deed into my name. But king Ali no longer rules. Now Andhiri-Andhirin is king. So let's go to Male' and find out how the document stands now. Get the boat ready.'

Hassan agreed and gathered crew for the journey and prepared the ship. The two brothers loaded gifts and the boat was punted out of the harbour until it could sail. They travelled through Thiladhunmathi and Miladhunmadulu. Then the odi sailed into Maalhosmadulu where Mohamed said they should load water from Dhuvaafaru. The brothers carried an urn onto the island and as they were walking towards the mosque to collect some water they came across a boy sitting near a bush in a side street. He was dirty and covered in scabies.
'Little man, why don't you come with us on our journey?' asked Mohamed.
'Why not? You're travelling in the tax-collector's odi and eating fish and coconut!' came the animated reply.
Hassan didn't think it was such a good idea to take the boy with them because the first thing he had started talking about was food. 'He'll be handy for chasing the crows away from the fish we get when we're trading in the atoll,' said Mohamed and he turned to the boy. 'If you want to come with us, bring your basket box.'

The brothers went on the mosque well and filled the urn with water. When they came back the boy was sitting in the same place. He didn't seem to want to go with them because there was no basket box in sight.
'If you want to go with us, where's your box?' asked Mohamed.
The boy touched the clothing on his waist and said, 'This is the basket and also my box. Everything I have to wear, I'm wearing now.'
Mohamed took the boy's hand and carrying the urn in his other arm they headed to the boat.

The ship sailed on through the two halves of Maalhosmadulu and on the leeward side of Eydhafushi they went out into Kaashidhoo channel. Mohamed asked Hassan to take over the rudder, while he went to the front of the ship. Beside the rope tying stick, he held the boy by his upper arms and dipped him into the sea three times. Then he pulled the boy back into the boat and washed the salt from his body with fresh water from Dhuvaafaru. Mohamed went under the awning and opened the writing case and poured some oil into his hands and rubbed it into the boy's body. Then Mohamed opened the trunk and took out his own large sarong and gave it to the boy to wear. Mohamed also gave him a black scarf that he used to wear on his baskili, and the gonfoo hat for his head.

He made the boy stand next to the dhan'digadu facing the front of the ship and then Mohamed returned to the back of the vessel and took the rudder once again. 'Hassan, people become lost and meaningless because of what they are wearing, don't they.'
'That big sarong of yours is ruined,' complained Hassan. 'and your black scarf and gonfoo hat are destroyed!'

But then Hassan looked closer at the boy standing in the egamathi position and he realised that the boy who was almost invisible back on Dhuvaafaru laying beneath the bushes covered in a swarm of flies, that same boy was now standing without a fly anywhere near him. 'Elder brother, keep an eye on 'egamathi',' said Hassan as he went to the front of the ship and stood next to the Dhuvaafaru boy. Looking at him closely, Hassan noticed there were no longer any open ulcers on the boy's body, only the scars of his healing wounds. This must be the result of my brother's intervention, thought Hassan, because his hands and mouth have been blessed by the Almighty.

Meanwhile the ship sailed into Male' atoll through the Ziyaaraiy Fushi channel. The brother's steered their vessel into Male' harbour and anchored there. 'Take the gifts to treasurer and then return,' said Mohamed to his brother.
Hassan went ashore to make his delivery, while Mohamed secured the vessel properly. 'Dhuvaafaru boy, do you know how to get the sail ready for the odi's departure?'
The youngster replied that he wasn't sure about that, but he would like to learn because he was travelling on the tax odi and being fed fish and coconut.

Mohamed took his hand and they went up to the front of the vessel. The boy sat on the deck and Mohamed began to teach him. 'Kaloa, when the sail is raised you tie the bottom corner like this. The two rope bands of the boom should be attached to the mast this way. This is how you do a noose. The looped rope must be thrown around the base of the mast and hauled up, and the aththeli must be attached to this particular kodali. After that, you go down into the bilge and throw out a few feet of water and only then will the ship be ready to sail.'
The boy said that he would try to do the right thing and he was left aboard to chase away the crows while Mohamed took the trade goods to the wharf and began selling them.

When Hassan arrived at Meedhoo Takuru's house, the treasurer asked which island the gifts were from.
Hassan said that he and his brother had come to check the kateeb deed now that Utheem Hussein Kateeb Takurufan had passed away. The treasurer said he would deliver the document to them at afternoon prayer time. Hassan returned to the wharf where Mohamed was trading and the two brothers worked together and returned to the odi with all the goods they bartered.

When Mohamed and Hassan went back ashore, they walked along the northern waterfront towards the residence of An'dhiri-Andhirin. As they walked through the gates, Andhiri-Andhirin saw the two brothers from where he was sitting and he said to the soldier closest to him, 'Here comes the two Utheem brothers. Find out what they want.'
The soldier moved towards them as they arrived in front of Andhiri-Andhirin.
'So what brings the two Utheem brothers here today?' asked the officer. 'We have both come to certify the kateeb deed, now that father is dead,' explained Mohamed Takurufan.
Andhiri-Andhirin stood up from his seat and said, 'The elder of you two brothers is the chief now, so you can return to the island.'

The brothers went back to the wharf and out to their ship. They used long poles to push the odi out of the harbour. 'Though he's small, at least there's someone up the front of the boat,' said Mohamed. 'Let's see if the two of us can raise the sail. Get two brace ropes and two sidestays.'

Hassan went to the front of the vessel and came back with the ropes. He tied the two brace ropes onto the kafi and then the brothers pulled the two sidestays and raised the sail to the top of the mast. The stays were secured to the bulhi, and the brace ropes were handed to Hassan.

As the brothers raised the sail, Dhuvaafaru Koi tied the kani and attached two bandavaru at the kani. The dhivaru bandavaru were secured to the odi and two faskolhu bandavaru were tied to the mast. He made the bolhu on the vaagadu and threw it over the kafi. He attached the aththeli and then he went down into the bilge and threw a few feet of water into the sea. Then he leaned against the windward laburaan filaa.

During this time, Hassan Takurufan had still not been able attach the hook to the brace rope that Mohamed had handed him.
'Younger brother, are the young men of Thiladhunmathi suffering from sticky hands these days?'
'I wasn't aware you held those sort of prejudiced ideas,' retorted Hassan.

The brothers sailed out through Kagi channel, across Kaashidhoo channel and then in through Maakoa. They sailed below Naifaru and above Hinnavaru and out through Hinnavaru channel. Their route was below Vattaru, Lhohi, Kuradhivaru and above Gaabodurah. They sailed below Koshibee, Lhaimagu, Firubaidhoo and Migoodhoo, and above Madikurendhoo, Narudhoo, Ribudhoo, Noomaraa, Nelu, Kadu Maavaidhoo, Kumundhoo, Kulhudhufushi, and the two Nolhivaran. Mohamed and Hassan sailed into the atoll between these two islands, and keeping Firey island below them, they sailed into Utheemu harbour. The brothers threw a rope onto the outer mooring post and the odi was moved towards the shore before the land rope was secured. Then the ship's cargo came ashore. Finally the vessel was beached and an awning thrown over it.

The two brothers stayed in Utheem, both of them acting as chief.




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