on 18 October 1987
rags that had seen better days
once adorned the wardrobe of the Paramount Chief
that Maniku-é-Bayla with a broad and sprightly
Léon Trotskyís moustache, and punched out
and stuttering in a deep-throated voice
that Maniku-é-Bayla his own praise.
and divorced many more times
a Hollywood star of international fame
that Maniku-é-Bayla of forty-three ex-wives
inclined, a genius of a sort
watches, gramophones and the like
that Maniku-é-Bayla extra parts in all.
the Fasting Month when the time was kept
to each wrist with ropes of coconut husk
that Maniku-é-Bayla his two alarm clocks.
violin fitted with a gramophone trumpet
of Manjaysoni and his other old flames
that Maniku-é-Bayla at the crack of dawn.
the strike of four with the evening breeze
the Feast of each Rice Conjee Day
that Maniku-é-Bayla rain or shine.
thinking of the days on the Island in the Sun
counting such characters as Kandeesayku and the
to my mind that Maniku-é-Bayla the best.
Rasheed annotated his poem Maniku-é-Bayla
the Best as follows:
Bayla Maniku. Named after his musical instrument
(Bayla or Bela), bard,
musician and mechanical genius of a sort, well known
for his appearance and eccentricity, and popular
both among the rich and poor of Malé, in
his time. Known to me in my childhood days, and
had left such a lasting impression on me that I
still remember some of his songs ("Manjaysoni
huré govanee Maniku-é-Bayla rangalhey").
If nobody had written anything in memory of this
most interesting and loveable character, for prosperity,
it is hoped that this short poem would serve the
Chief: The late Mr Hassan Farid Didi,
who was killed during World War II. Bayla Maniku
wore Mr Farid Didiís caste off clothes, unaltered,
thus creating the appearance of a midget in a giantís
attire. It was possible that Maniku cleaned his
clothes by a process somewhat similar to the ritual
known in Islamic theology, as Thayammum,
where no water is needed. This, combined with the
wearing effects of time and the tropical climate,
made his garments hang on his body like, what we
used to describe, as a vaalu-hangandu (batís
Trotsky: Russian Revolutionary leader, close
associate of Lenin, later assassinated in South
America, apparently by Stalinís agents. Somehow,
the facial features, especially the moustache, in
Trotskyís photographs, always reminded me of Bayla
Maniku of the Maldives Ė no offence meant to either
Soni-Manjay, an ex-wife of Bayla Maniku. We used
to call her Laarikata ("penny-pincher").
The Maldivian verse given under "Maniku-é-Bayla"
above used to be his most favourite verse. The verse
means: "Manjaysoni keeps calling, Maniku-é-Bayla
is the Best".
Conjee Day: When we were children, a day known
as Kandhi Duwas was celebrated each year,
the significance of which is still unknown to me.
What mattered to us kids and Bayla Maniku was that
on that day Kandhi, which was a delicious
Maldivian dish containing rice and sugar, was cooked
and eaten. Maniku never failed to show up on that
in the Sun: Malé, the capital of the
As children, we were deathly afraid of this semi-lunatic,
black-bearded, bare-chested man with blood-shot
eyes, always carrying a woodcutterís axe on his
Annotation: Kandhi Duwas fell on the tenth
day of the Islamic month of Muharram and is also
known as Aashourah. It was supposed to be the day
Hussain son of Ali, grandson of Mohamed was defeated
and killed in battle by the Umayyad faction. The
Umayyads took control of the Islamic Commonwealth
after they assassinated Ali son of Abu Talib, Hussainís
father, who was Commander of the Faithful or Mohamedís
temporal successor titled Caliph. The followers
of the Umayyads and their successors form the Sunni
branch of Islam, while the followers of Hussain
form the Shia branch. Maldive Moslems belong to
the Sunni branch. Strict Shia communities inflicted
masochistic flagellation on themselves on Aashourah
Day, their way of mourning Hussainís murder. Another
version was that on that day many thousands of years
before, Noah, in his Ark found dry land. It was
said that Noah cooked the sweet broth-like preparation,
called kandhi in Maldivian, for his shipmates as
a thanksgiving meal. Whatever the reason, orthodox
Islamic clerics in the Maldives always frowned on
that day and the way it was celebrated. It took
them several hundreds of years to suppress this
custom among Maldivians who always liked such colourful
celebrations. Kandhi Duwas was abolished in 1964.