Maldives has a way of sucking the living potential out of you. After 2 years of relative boredom I found myself professionally fat and lethargic with the fact that I was on top of my game. There we no more mountains to scale, no room left for my fins to splash around in this small pond of a country that had seductively hushed down my zesty pace of life and cradled me with a lullaby of comfort and nonchalance. My native friends around me were well past this stage. With their British, Australian and European double degrees and masters, here they were, on permanent vacation for the rest of their lives. We all had more than enough money, a rather tiny but nice place to live, a job that’s was almost a hobby and the wonderful choice of going for 15 minute rides round the island capital every evening in either a clockwise or anti- clockwise direction, just so that we didn’t get tired of the scenery.
The only ambition that could be deemed worthy of a fight for anyone blessed with a mouth connected to half a brain was to get votes simply because the government was hitting the snooze button on whatever alarms the country’s clock was struggling to sound. Yet, no matter what happened, it hardly evoked much emotion other than perhaps anger. Not many really talked about inspiration, vision, ambition or even romance for that matter, leave alone their future. Perhaps this had something to do with what appeared to me as how very transactional most of the people were. Just as every punch, paper ball or insult was equally and immediately returned in a classroom, all relationships one could have were solely based on mutual benefit in its most primitively transactional sense regardless of whether or not emotions were involved. As hard as this is to explain it was very evident and there was absolute minimum regard or enthusiasm for one’s job or career maybe unless one was the owner of the company that he/she worked in. Similarly, marriages were mostly short-lived, perhaps because they were hardly based on anything deeper than sex and/or money. Life was more about maintaining a desired level of satisfaction which was not difficult. Just like the sea all around us there were jobs in abundance, good looking potential partners flocking by and easy fixes to most problems in life. Life was a bed of roses made of tuna fish and tourists and we sure didn’t mind the smell.
Time drew near to my son Noah’s arrival. I for one did not picture myself trying to console a crying infant with the sight of construction workers and swarming motorbikes from atop our miniature balcony. I needed to see and feel the green that I fell in love with in my hometown ofKandy. I needed to know that a 15 minute car ride will not take me in a circle only to bring me back to where I started. More importantly, I needed to erase the ‘castaway’ feeling that made life depend on the tides rather than my actions. Little did I know that returning home had much more implications than I ever imagined.
It started with a high fever. Roshi called me when I was at work, thoroughly engrossed in the process of making grandiose plans to celebrate my return. It was when she told me that Noah was not moving in her womb that I realized this was pretty serious. With our regular doctor away on vacation, a sinister elderly stand-in doctor told us that he was “tempted to take the baby out” after glancing at Noah’s heart rate report for a split second. I was tempted to slap him across the face but settled for another half hour of monitoring which turned out normal as expected…After a sigh of relief, a hearty lump rice lunch and deep breaths of serene tobacco I return to the room only to find out that Roshi was taken to the operating theater for an emergency C section delivery…