Monday, January 29, 2007

Nothing Lasts Forever

“So never mind the darkness,
We still can find a way,
‘Cause nothing lasts forever,
Even cold November rain.”

- November Rain, written by Axl Rose, Album: Use Your Illusion 1, Band: Guns and Roses,

This whole month of November it has been raining continuously. Strangely, hardly a day goes by without rain. It rains for long hours. People crisscross puddles, umbrellas sprout on streets, and we seem to live in Seattle, Perth or Limerick.

I can remember how I felt when I saw a cloud drifting from the East. The rustle of a breeze hinting at finer weather; a dark cloud promising sunshine. When wind and clouds sweep from an easterly direction, we are witnessing the approach of the Northeast monsoon – the Iruvai monsoon, with its clear blue skies and smooth seas.

I can also remember a particularly heavy rain that flooded several streets of Male’ in early November. It rained for a few hours, but it must have been one of the heaviest rainfalls of this year.

But what I remember most about those early November days is the spirit with which the democracy movement soared. The meetings in cafés, reassurances between friends, and preparations for journeys.

As the month ends we are in a slightly different mood. More than 100 people, who wanted a better future for the Maldives, were needlessly imprisoned, following arbitrary arrests and after cruel and inhuman torture. Several of them remain under detention, brutally separated from their families, languishing in a world of isolation.

The black clouds are rolling down, day and night. The temperature falls below the normal levels, sending shivers down the spine.

A group of people, to whom people looked with hope, remain fragmented and in apparent chaos. Power struggles are being played behind closed doors, knives are stabbed in the back, and flames of rivalries are rekindled.

Male’ is cold and dark, bleak and foreboding. It is in such times that humans hope.

Things may look bleak but our future is by no means clouded. What is the most evident sign of a better future for us is the courage we are finding. The courage that a woman displays as she is handcuffed, dragged across the street, and put in a police van to be taken to a notorious prison. On an early November day, I saw her waving to the onlookers with both her arms locked in handcuffs. Even though she was behind the dark glasses of a van, I saw bravery in her face.

Or let’s discuss the strength of the passengers in a fishing vessel, as it traveled through choppy seas, making a long journey from the southernmost atoll of the Maldives, towards Male’. For us their journey was an epic moment, no less grand than the travels of Zheng He, the admiral of Ming Empire’s navy, from the shores of China, across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, in 15th century. The adventures of the dhoni from Addu, as it crossed the one and half degree channel, may as well be written down in our history books, in the same manner Maldivian hero Mohamed Thakurufaanu and his crew of the Kalhuoffhummi are glorified.

It is with this courage we are facing and conquering the fear that has kept us subjugated for decades. In our fight against tyranny, being imprisoned is no longer a fear, but rather a matter of pride.

In an article I wrote earlier this year I discussed the already visible cracks and divisions within MDP.

“It is very difficult for people of different ideologies to work together. A split within MDP is inevitable given the differing ambitions, intentions and plans of the people involved. If power is what attracts some of them, if they have plans to form a party in the future, they may as well do so now. However, the only point that is holding them back is they realize that whoever splits from the party now will not be able to gain support easily at the moment. Sadly MDP is like train station where passengers do not have a common destination but are waiting in transit.

“My belief is that a split leading to exit of some people, or even formation of new political parties, from the current elite of MDP will be healthy to MDP rather than working with concealed resentment and pretension.

“Those who still opt to be onboard should work with a set of common goals. Or else they should jump ship.”

What I see today is MDP going through a process of purification. I have no doubts that from the fragmented remains, a vibrant opposition to the regime will emerge. The strength and courage of the Maldivians yearning for democracy is the sign we are all looking for. With our combined strength and determination we can be ‘a force more powerful.’

So let’s look forward for the day “when your fears subside, and shadows still remain.” The tyranny that is robbing the hopes and dreams of so many generations of Maldivians will ultimately end. Nothing lasts forever. Even this cold rain.

Note: This article was sent to Minivan News in November 2006 but they did not publish it. The website, which had published my articles in the past, did not give a reason for not publishing it. I understand that they must have their own reasons.

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