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The story of Bodu Takurufan part 17
As told by the famous Buraara Mohamed Fulhu
and written by Al-hajj Ibrahim Ibn Ismail Feeboa



They seem to have taken their father's advice seriously, maintaining a vessel and trading at the table and shelter they set up in the islands of Thiladhunmathi atoll. During their trading trips, they befriended the atoll's toddymen. Mohamed and Hassan took what they could find to Male' and sold it there, bringing back their bartered goods to the islands.

After their initial visit to Male' to renew the kateeb deed, Andiri-Andhirin did not allow it to be sent on to Utheem. The following year the men who went on the official cowrie collecting tour did not bring a single kottey (package of 12,000 cowries) of shells back from Thiladhunmathi because permission had not been granted by Andhiri-Andhirin to bring the shells from Utheem. Next year, on Sunday 15th Rajab, the two regiments assembled at the Kabaafaanu palace to distribute the shells. They were short of the usual amount and began to complain.
'Gentlemen, there's no need to get angry about the shortage of shells,' said the older ones. ' When Utheem Hussein Kateeb Takurufan passed away, the two brothers came to Male' to renew the kateeb deed, and since then there has been no order given by Andhiri-Andhirin to take the document to Utheem. This is an island where cowries are harvested in huge numbers. So stop complaining.'

A lord called Feydhoo Takuru overheard this comment and said, 'You should have sent different sort of people to collect the shells. Send people like us to Thiladhunmathi for the main collection. Look, the chiefs in those islands are a joke. We are the crown's tax collectors. What can they do except feed us sweet milk rice and pack up their cowrie shells for us?'
After this boasting they collected their shells and went home.

The following year, responsibility for the cowrie shell collection from Thiladhunmathi was given to the arrogant Feydhoo Takuru. He travelled to Baarah where the Viyazoaru, the atoll chief, asked him the purpose of his trip and Feydhoo Takuru explained.
'Collect what you can and return to Male',' said the Viyazoaru. 'I'll arrange to have the ship loaded at whichever island you choose.'
'First I'll pick up cowries from Utheem. Then I'll sail around the atoll.'
'Don't do that,' pleaded the Viyazoaru. 'When Utheem Hussein Kateeb Takurufan passed away, the two brothers went to Male' to renew the deed and since then there has been no formal instruction from Andhiri-Andhirin to take the document to Utheem. So it's best if you just go around the atoll and then return to Male'. I'll get the ship loaded at whichever island you want.'
'I'm not going to any other island in this atoll without first picking up the cowries from Utheem,' insisted the lord.
The atoll chief had no choice. He arranged five sailors and the tax boat and the lord's box and weapons were loaded aboard and Feydhoo Takuru set off from Baarah.

'Isn't it a fact, ' said Takuru to the sailors, 'that these islands are controlled only by clown chiefs. We are the crown's tax collectors and what can they do except feed us sweet milky rice and pack their cowrie shells for us?'
He kept boasting all the way to Utheem. The seaward mooring rope was thrown over the pole and when the boat moved closer to the shore the land-side rope was secured. The young man who took the rope ashore walked up into the island and went straight to the new palace and checked if Mohamed and Hassan were there. The young Duvaafaru man was at the palace and he asked what the Baarah men were up to.
'We have come with a tax collector, but on the way here he just bragged all the time.'
'What about?' asked the Dhuvaafaru man.
'He said the islands just have clown khatheebs, while he was the big-deal crown tax-collector. And what else can the islanders do except feed him and his men sweet milky rice and supply loads of cowrie shells? That's the sort of thing he boasted about.'
'Visiting crown tax-colectors have to stay on the public bench. Have the crew put his box and weapons there, and return to Baarah.'
The sailors did as they were told, placing Feydhoo Takuru's box and spears against the public bench before they returned to Baarah island.

Takuru rested on the bench, thinking that perhaps the person known as the Dhuvaafaru man wasn't aware that he had arrived. Otherwise he would have come to get me after serving food for the two brothers.

Two nights later he was still waiting. That second night, Dhuvaafaru Koi served dinner for Mohamed and Hassan, and after eating his own meal in the kitchen he visited the toddy man's house.
'Dhuvaafaru man,' said the toddy man, 'what are you up to this evening?'
'I've come to ask a favour.'
'What is it. Tell me.'
'A tax collector has arrived on the island, and I'm taking him for a walk in the forest tomorrow. If you're there, I'll ask you to get two drinking coconuts for us. Would you be able to climb up and get some tough old coconuts for us, and then disappear?'
The toddy man agreed.

The Dhuvaafaru man went off to sleep and was out of bed early in the morning. He served breakfast for the two brothers and after taking his own food in the kitchen he went straight to the public bench and stood in front of Feydhoo Takuru.
'Visiting tax collectors shouldn't arrive on the island and just stay in the same place like some rock in the street that trips people and is thrown away with a warning to jinnis and left abandoned wherever it happens to land! Come with me and see the island.'
As they walked along the Dhuvaafaru man mentioned how he hoped they would meet a toddy man in the forest. 'Then we can get two drinking coconuts. That would make a good breakfast.'

As he said this, they met the toddy man walking along the same pathway. He carried a knife in his belt and a coconut climbing loop of rope made from palm in his hands. As the man walked past, the Dhuvaafaru man called out and he stopped.
'Would you do something for us?'
'How can I help you?'
'Can you get a couple of drinking coconuts from one of the palms for us?' asked the man from Dhuvaafaru.
The toddy man agreed and walked around checking the palms. He climbed up and began cutting loose two bunches of old over-ripe nuts. A single blow sliced both bunches free and as they fell the toddy man ran off and hid.

'That's what you have to expect in this island, Takuru. We ask for a couple of drinking coconuts and the toddy man disappears after dropping bunches of useless old things. Well, we can't just leave them laying there. Let's collect them.'

They went into the forest and gathered all the old nuts together, using string from the husks they laced them into two bunches.
'Takuru, you take one bunch and I'll take the other.'
The Dhuvaafaru man placed one load on Takuru's shoulder and carried the other himself. Together they carried all the old nuts to the public bench and dropped them there. The nuts were separated and children who happened to walk past were given one or two until only three remained.

Dhuvaafaru Koi went off and came back with a spike. He husked the three old nuts and left them on the bench. Then he used a knife to cut the hard flesh into large chunks, placing the pieces on a metal plate and then handing the pile to the tax collector.
'Takuru, you're the visiting taxman. In these islands we have clown chiefs that only eat old coconuts. Don't think about it, taxman, just eat your food.'
As the Dhuvaafaru man left, the taxman took one of the pieces and put it in his mouth. But his teeth were so weak he couldn't bite it hard enough to squeeze out even a tiny bit of milk. The taxman spat it out and sat on the bench.

Next morning the Dhuvaafaru man came back to the public bench. The plate of coconut pieces was covered in iridescent red flies. He shook them away and scraped off the surface of the chunks. Then he pushed the plate towards the taxman.
'Takuru, during the last three mealtimes you haven't been able to eat three gabulhi! At the same time we've been able to finish all ours. In these islands there are only clown chiefs who eat old nuts and dry shreds from the husks. Don't think about it, just eat!'
He left the taxman and went back into the island.

On the fourth night, Mohamed Takurufan asked his Dhuvaafaru servant if it was true that a tax collector had arrived on the island. 'If he's here without food, he'll die of starvation. Arrange for him to go to Baarah.'
'It is fairly late now,' said the servant. 'I'll organise that tomorrow.'

So the Dhuvaafaru man went to sleep and next morning after serving the brothers and eating his food in the kitchen, he gathered five men and told them to prepare the tax boat. Then he told the men what they had to do.

The Dhuvaafaru man went to the public bench and said to Takuru, 'You are a visiting tax-collector, and you can't eat the sort of food available here. Here's a group of young men on their way to Baarah, would you like to accompany them?'
'Please send me to Baarah in the boat,' begged the taxman.
'I'll get someone to carry your luggage for you.'

As the Dhuvaafaru man went back into the island, he warned everyone not to go near the public bench for the time being. Feydhoo Takuru waited and waited until mid morning. Not a single person approached him. He went down to the shore where five young men were preparing a boat for a journey.
He asked them where they were going, and they replied they had something to do in Baarah.
'Would you take me with you to Baarah?'
'We're leaving right now, hurry up then,' they said.
'If you're taking me with you then collect my box over there and put it on board.'
'No way,' they said. 'We hear what the island people say. You are a visiting tax collector. We are going on a public courtesy trip! If the islanders discover we have handled the box of a tax collector, they'll fine us. Bring your box and climb aboard. We'll take you to Baarah.'
'Young men, if you carry my box on board, it's only because you are taking me with you. What is the problem?'
'No, we can't do it... But if you give us some sort of payment then we can carry the box for you. We can't be accused of helping a tax collector then.'
Takuru agreed and paid the men, who then carried his box onto the boat and sailed with him to Baarah.

When Takuru arrived he went straight to the Viyazoaru and said he had almost died because he hadn't listened to the atoll chief's advice. Feydhoo Takuru spent the next three days and nights eating, and when he'd recovered he went off around the atoll before returning to Male' with the cowrie shells he'd collected.

In the following year on Thursday 22 Rajab, the two regiments assembled at Kabafan palace to distribute the shells. Some protested about the lack of cowries and the elders reminded them that there was no reason to complain because Andhiri-Andhirin had not endorsed the tax deed for Utheem, and that island used to provide large amounts of cowries. A man known as Makunudhoo Takuru was present and said that it was really because of the methods of the collectors. 'Look, there are only clown chiefs on those islands. What can the people do there except feed us sweet milky rice and pack their cowries?'

So the following year that boasting man was sent to make the cowrie collection at Thiladhunmathi. As happened to lord before him, he was warned by Viyazoaru on Baarah to avoid Utheem and concentrate on other islands. But Makunudhoo Takuru rejected the advice, insisting that the clown chiefs on the islands would have to obey a man of his status. The atoll chief arranged for a tax boat with five crewmen to take Makunudhoo Takuru to Utheem. On the way there, he boasted about his power to the crew, the same as the previous Takuru had done.

After securing the vessel, one of the crew met Mohamed and Hassan, and the Dhuvaafaru man. Mohamed was told about Takuru's boasting and he ordered the tax man's luggage left at the public bench. The brothers then went to their father's aunt's house with the Dhuvaafaru man.
'Older sister,' said Mohamed, 'a tax man has arrived on the island. Since your house is closest to the public bench, it is quite likely that he will come to this house wanting a bit of oil for his body after his evening wash. Give him some.'
'Dhuvaafaru man,' said the aunt, 'I'm not sure when Takuru will be coming for oil. So don't go anywhere before you get an old greenish yellow coconut and put it up in the eaves for me.'
Dhuvaafaru went off into the forest and did as she asked.

That evening the tax collector asked some children where he would find a well to wash. Afterwards he returned to the public bench and spread out his wet sarong. Then he wondered where he would obtain some oil to rub on his body. He decided to go to the nearest house. In front of it he called out, 'Is anyone here?'
The lady inside lifted up the mid-door curtain and asked him what he wanted.
Takuru asked for a drop of oil.
'Why not?' said the lady and she walked out through the north door and pulled down the old coconuts from underneath the eaves. The woman approached Makunudhoo Takuru and asked him to hold out his hand. She held an old nut by its two ends and rolled it so the milk and water from the nut poured out into his hand. 'These islands have only clown chiefs,' the woman mocked, 'and they use oil fit for clowns as well. Don't worry, it doesn't smell bad. I mixed it with jasmin oil.'
Takuru believed her lie and rubbed the oil on both hands before applying it to his body.

That day as Takuru sat on the public bench, the flies and blowflies were thick and the Dhuvaafaru man was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he isn't aware I'm here yet, thought Takuru. Otherwise he would have come to me after serving food for the two brothers.
Takuru lay there thinking of food, as one mealtime after another passed by. On the second day, the Dhuvaafaru man went to the public bench. 'Well, you're the new tax collector,' he said. 'The people are required to pack the cowrie shells for you, whether they want to or not. Let's confiscate the heavy tools they use for other tasks. Then they won't have to do anything except pack your shells for you!'

They set off for the houses and grabbed the black grindstone and the binbi-grinding mortar and pestle. Takuru spent the day carrying heavy things like that on his shoulders back to the public bench. But although they took away the heavy tools, the people didn't bother to pack any cowrie shells.
'Doesn't look like people are packing anything for you,' said the Dhuvaafaru man. 'We'd better return those things to the houses we took them from.'
Takuru had to carry all the heavy stuff back to the houses. The Dhuvaafaru man left him exhausted and slumped on the public bench.

On that third night, Mohamed Takurufan spoke with his Dhuvaafaru servant. 'Tomorrow I'll call a 'Yoi', but tell the people to ignore it. Those going fishing should continue on their way, and carpenters should get on with their work. People on their way to the reef should keep going. Tell them that if they collect a mulhi, then don't bring an ila. And if they collect an ila then not to bring a boli aiygeh. Spread the message and return.' Dhuvaafaru Koi told everyone and then came back to sleep.

Next morning Mohamed Takurufan awoke and went to the mosque. After breakfast with his brother they went together to the public bench. 'You're the new tax collector,' said Mohamed. 'We are the island chiefs. Takuru, we need you to instruct the people for us. We don't think island chiefs have to pack cowrie shells if the people of the island don't want to do it!'

Mohamed Takurufan called out 'Yoi!' three times so it could be heard throughout the island. Mohamed and the tax collector sat there on the public bench and it seemed as if no one on the island had heard anything! Those on their way fishing continued to go fishing. Others didn't stop on their way to the reef. The carpenters headed for their worksites. Later that day when the sun had risen five steps, someone came carrying a mulhi and dropped it on the bench before leaving without a word. The two men waited and as the sun entered the noon sky, a man arrived with an ila which he placed next to the mulhi and then he too left. In the early afternoon, a man came holding a coconut shell with a boli aiygeh inside it. He placed the shell next to the mulhi and went away just like the others.

Between then and sunset neither man saw anybody. No one even crossed a street! Mohamed Takurufan finally went back into the island and the tax collector stayed on the bench. That night, after the two brothers ate dinner, Mohamed Takurufan said to his Dhuvaafaru servant, 'Takuru might end up starving to death! Arrange to feed him.'
'It's fairly late now,' he replied. 'Best to do it tomorrow.'

He got up at dawn and ate in the kitchen after serving breakfast for the two brothers. Then he went to the place where the coconuts were stored and selected three nuts. They made a 'gud-gud' sound as he husked them with a stick driven into the ground at a forty-five degree angle and sharpened at the top end. The Dhuvaafaru man then took them on a metal plate and with a knife to the public bench. He lay the plate on the bench, picked up a nearby stone and holding his right hand high in the air he hit the rotten coconuts with a stone and broke their shells. He cut the foul flesh into sections and pushed the plate towards Makunudhoo Takuru.
'You are the new tax collector,' said the Dhuvaafaru servant. 'In these islands there are clown chiefs who have only bits of tough old coconuts. Last year another lord came here. When he arrived, the people had tough nuts to eat and he ate them too. By the time you arrived, those who had been eating old coconuts were now eating the hard and rotten stuff. Just forget it's rotten and eat it.' The servant went back into the island.

Makunudhoo Takuru didn't have any teeth and he couldn't chew a single piece of the woody coconut flesh. He continued to sit on the public bench. That night after the two brothers had eaten, Mohamed told his servant to make arrangements for Takuru to return to Baarah.
'It's fairly late now, best to wait until the morning don't you think?'

After starting his morning serving the brothers breakfast and then eating in the kitchen, the Dhuvaafaru man went out and found five young men. He explained what had to be done, and then he went to the public bench and spoke with the tax collector. 'Takuru, you are unable to eat the food around here. Some of the young men are about to leave for Baarah. Would you like to travel with them?'
'Please send me to Baarah in that boat,' begged Makunudhoo Takuru.
'I'll bring someone to carry your luggage for you.'

As the servant went back into the island, he told everyone to avoid the bench area for the time being. Thinking the servant was finding someone to help him, Takuru sat waiting. The sun had risen five steps and still the tax collector hadn't seen a single person crossing the street. When Takuru walked down to the beach, he noticed the five young men preparing to leave in their boat.
'Hey, you young men, where are you going?'
'We are off to Baarah.'
Takuru asked if he could come with them and they agreed, if he came aboard immediately.
'Taking me also involves taking that luggage over there,' said Takuru.
'We can't help you there,' they said. 'After all, you are a visiting tax collecto, and we aren't making an official journey. If the people around here find out we carried the box of a tax collector, they'd fine us. You bring the box aboard and we'll take you.'
'No!' Takuru was adamant. 'Taking me means loading that box as well.'
'We can't, Takuru. Unless you make a donation to us. Then we can bring the box and it isn't just 'carrying the box of the tax collector'.'

So Makunudhoo Takuru made a donation to the five young men and they carried the box aboard. When he came aboard with his stick they all left Utheem. On the way to Baarah, Takuru drifted in and out of consciousness. When they arrived, Makunudhoo Takuru went directly to the atoll chief and told him that ignoring his advice and going to Utheem had almost cost his life. He stayed on Baarah, eating for five days and nights until he recovered. Then he set off around the atoll and after collecting his cowrie shells he returned to Male'.

This story stops here for the moment.







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