At dawn this morning, I was on my way to Villingili Ferry terminal. I walked the almost bare streets of the capital island at six in the morning accept for the few people on vehicles on their way to work or to sleep. As I turned into Majeedee Magu around the corner of Nalahiya Hotel, the street was almost empty. I noticed a teenage boy approaching a middle aged expatriate woman and then back off from her. She looked up, then walked briskly on – at a distance from where I was. Then the boy jaywalked to an elderly man walking by on the other side of the road and he looked up kind of alarmed and the boy moved away from him too. The boy jaywalked towards me. He said, "Beybey (Brother)! If you can’t just say it. I have been locked out of my house. I have to make a call home. Please help me. If you cannot it is all right." He had a cigarette to his mouth, had red bloo-shot eyes, could speak with an effort, and definitely was in a mental state in which he was capable of doing anything to get what he wanted.
"My phone is a pre-paid and I have run out of credit! I am sorry," I told him. But I was quite nervous. He could easily take out a blade out of his pocket and cut me up, if I refused to comply with his request. (I was just a few hours ago told that these boys now have gone to the extent of just walking into peoples homes with daggers demanding what they want, and when they have it simply walked out!) Fortunately, the boy was in a sober state than I had feared, he said it’s ok and move on, away. I took the next lane toward Eid Miskiiy and went my own way.
In the conversation I had over a cup of tea last night, a dear friend told me that as he was passing by MPA / Customs area, a group of nearly a dozen young people had beat an expatriate to death almost. He said that as this person was walking by he happened to stumble on one of the gang who were having a gang meet on the side of the road. They stood up told every one nearby that should anyone try to protect him, they would cut them up good. So everyone looked on as this person was beaten, blood coming out of his mouth. According to my friend, the person’s internal organs would be lucky to be intact.
Some people would say my fear is unfounded. That the streets of Male’ are safe. That these are singular and isolated incidents. That it is a part of the reform process. I just hope that our political leaders do not label the people who are beaten and cut up on the streets of Male’ and in their homes, as collateral damage. That is what modern day champions of democracy call the unfortunate people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.