A short note on the word “laadheenee”.
Literal meaning: Not (laa) Religious (dheenee)
Not really Dhivehi in origin. Nobody uses “laa” to mean no in Dhivehi. It is an arab loan word.
Used to call someone irreligious in some way. Also directed at LGBTQI people whether or not they’re religious. Many Muslim LGBTQI people are also called laadheenee simply for being themselves.
Could be used to call someone a secularist, or a hypocrite (munafiq) or an apostate (murtad), or a blasphemer. I think the actual Dhivehi word for secular is illmaanee.
The word has even been spray painted on the walls of houses of people who have been suspected to be “laadheenee”. This may have been more related to its political usage as a slur against opposing parties rather than its usage against Maldivian minorities. However, the slur is ultimately accusing these political parties of belonging to or supporting non-Muslims or LGBTQI people. To date there isn’t a single political party that has even acknowledged the existence of Maldivian minorities other than as a boogeyman or scapegoat.
A dog whistle for “kafir” (infidel). Ultimately always means this (if not used ironically by progressive people).
The goal of this word is to stereotype and group Maldivian non-Muslims and LGBTI people as a homogenous entity that is actively working against “Islam” and the very fabric of the nation itself. It is much easier to ascribe conspiracy theories to “laadheenee” meehun (people) this way. This is similar to the way white supremacists say things like “the jews” or “the blacks”. The laadheenee meehun are apparently out to destroy the Maldives, it’s culture, it’s heritage, and it’s national unity. This is despite laadheenee meehun being regular Dhivehin just like everybody else.
The wind is rushing through your hair, extra salty with the mist generated by the dhoni as it gently falls on the waves ahead.
One of you is sick, throwing up. Why are we going fishing? Your vomit leaves an orange trail on the cobalt blue waters behind us.
As we anchor at the edge of a reef, the fires in the sky fizzles into the waves. Soon the moon rises and one of you comments on how your grandfather always said that’s a good omen for fishing. We remember we say, you tell us all the time.
As the moon grows brighter, the pile of fish in the center of the dhoni grows ever higher. Rai mas, filolhu, handhi, faana, and even a few tholhi. One of you mention how great mamma’s havaadhu is going to taste.
We return to the island. A fire is lit. The fish are gutted and cleaned. The havaadhu is liberally applied into the slits cut into the side of the fish. Save me the eyes! One of you says excitedly.
The aroma of the fish fills the air. Comforting smells of roasting cumin, turmeric, garlic, onions cut with the sharp tang of scotch bonnet chilies mixed with lime ignites a hunger in your belly. The smoke spirals up with the sparks towards the moonlight. The day feels long. Is it done yet?
We eat all of the fish. Nothing is wasted. You say the one you caught tastes the best. You like the oily taste of charred rai’ mas skin better than the dull taste of the bony tholhi you caught. I caught the tholhi! The youngest cousin exclaims angrily. Everyone laughs and we share the last of the fish as we reminisce about past trips.
Remember the time you cut your foot as you ran out onto the beach? Remember the time we all played lava baazee on the dhoni when we went to that distant atoll? Remember the time the spicy eid chicken gave you a stomach ache? Remember the time you thought your shirt was ruined because of a surprise water fight? Remember how we sat at the water’s edge staring at the stars?
What about the trip where we couldn’t catch enough fish, so we went walking on the reef at low tide looking for snails? You were grossed out but found them delicious. Or when your uncle nearly had a heart attack because of the sound of a falling coconut? You laughed and said maybe he should start wearing a helmet. Remember how you hugged me the day the tsunami hit? You held me close and told me everything would be okay.
Remember when the protests happened and we all felt so scared? When the news said everything was alright, but we could hear the shouts and screams? When we could see the smoke but couldn’t see the fire?
Remember when we celebrated your freedom? Your right to vote? Your right to political representation? You were drunk that night. But it was alright because Friday was coming soon.
Remember when you told me to stop saying we? As if all at once I’m banished from our memories. As if it was a stranger who laughed at your jokes. As if it was a stranger who shared your joy, your love, and your sorrow?
Remember when you decided I was one of them? The vile, the deceitful, the enemy? Remember when you made me doubt my memories? My life? My existence? Was it not with you whom I shared my joy, my love, my sorrow?
And now, in my time of greatest misery, you twist the knife and pretend the blood that spills onto your hands isn’t that of your brother. Your sister. Your mother. Your father. Your aunts, your uncles, your cousins. Your friends and your lovers.
The blood pools around your ankles. But you feel nothing. You feel no guilt. For you have forgotten me. Forgotten what it means to be human. So your heart grows cold, while mine grows weary.