On my early morning walk today i saw a guard in front of a shop doing his morning cleaning rituals onto the Majeedhee-magu pavement. He was gurgling out the nightly accumulates of his throat and noisily spitting out and blowing his nose onto the drain and pavement. As I approached him, I couldn't contain the urge to ask him a few questions. Why all this on to the street? Don't you have a toilet? He looked at me blankly perhaps not understanding a word I said. Observing the blank look was sufficient for me for I wasn't looking for answers from him really. But I felt remorse at what our city of Male was turning into; it was his toilet verily in the absence of a toilet provided by the shop-owner.
This is not an isolated case. I have observed other guards even relieving themselves of the urinal variety onto the opposite side of their pavement in this space they feel is legitimate. I know many of our guest workers come from countries that are culturally different from us and some such practices are normal or commonplace even though the ultimate scheme of urban development their public officials also would not want such practices to happen. But for me this is atrocious in our small capital which should in fact be a little garden and not difficult to do except for the carelessness of public officials to the importance of these little value driven behavior but who give superior importance to capital projects that bring visual changes to our urban landscape. No one seems to care about how our behavior is being drastically changed and would be so difficult to rectify when our attitudes are allowed to change this way.
I see the sanitary difference of this physical space we call our city of Male over several decades and I dare say it is degrading lamentably. I even observe now, even though infrequently, amber colored fluid in bottles lying in the premises of our urban street drains. I cannot vouch for what the content is for I do not open these and attempt to smell these to verify. But i can only feel my hunch is valid. At this rate i wonder how long it would be before we feel the waft of the fetid odors of human excrement emanating from our drains! One can take this escalating concern as a human rights issue in regards to our guest workers for those of us who employ them must be responsible enough to give them the needed amenities to live here a life of some dignity. When our public space is degrading we only point fingers at our guest workers who are here because we brought them here and thus we are in fact more responsible for the plight of our city. Not to be outdone, even our own people are accomplice to the epidemic of spitting we see on the street. And another epidemic – of smoking!!
Yes public officials must enforce the tasks they have taken up; their salaries and benefits being fed with public money but it must also be our personal responsibility as Maldivians to reflect on what is happening to our nation in the wake of this modern development path we seem to be so unrelentingly pursuing in the degrading face of human dignity for ourselves and for our employees and our guests to this country. We surely don't like to invite them to a dump. It’s a shame on us. Where is our wonderful Islam which says cleanliness is an integral part of Eman. Would we consider ourselves the embodiment of Eman? Can we be aware of the terrible bind our ego has us trapped in? We forget our own Religion Islam and its sublime edicts in the face of the glitter this world shows us. Like it or not - Iblees has us wrapped around his little finger.