I had two friends.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”
“So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?”
-Theoden, Lord of the Rings
Ahmed Rilwan – abducted, 8 August 2014
Yameen Rasheed – murdered, 23 April 2017
Years ago, one weekend not too far from the time Yameen started working in Maldives, we were chatting on Twitter and decided to meet for breakfast.
We started talking and that breakfast lasted until after dinner.
There began a friendship unlike any I’ve ever known.
A couple of months on, I met a strongly opinionated, yet somewhat quiet and reserved, fellow at a workshop on Right to Information held at the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives.
Turned out this was Rilwan, or @Moyameehaa on Twitter, as more people knew him.
I’d already heard a lot about him through Yameen and I was then able to see for myself why the man had made such an impact on someone like Yameen, who was himself a force to be reckoned with.
We hit it off immediately, the three of us. Much of our conversation was based on shared ideas on rights and responsibilities, causes we believed in, and, of course, books and music.
I cannot count the hours we spent together in the years that followed, either in person or through conversations on various chat apps, social media, phone, etc. But I can say that considering every single one of us were prone to have bouts of caving up like hermits, we spent a surprisingly high amount of quality time together.
And yet, it isn’t enough. I would give anything to have them back in my life.
‘You don’t love me anymore’
The one text that he has sent me every time a few days went by without me checking up on him.
The one text that always made me come out of hibernation and meet up with him asap.
The one text that I will miss most for the rest of my life.
I do love you, Yameen, for you’re the best friend a person could ever ask for.
I love everything about you, from your online persona with the biting sarcasm to the kind soul you were in person. Your workaholic habits where I could still expect to catch you at your desk if I called you at either 10 in the morning, or 2. Your tendency to go through the menu every single time and then to order the same old thing unless I just ordered for you ☺. Your total incapacity to feel comfortable in a place because of details that normally would never catch my eye, like wooden chairs at a steel table, windows which aren’t symmetrical, a round table for two…
Your humour in the face of aggressive outbursts, your calm in the face of stressful confrontations, your ability to take the world one step at a time and to care deeply while not being overwhelmed by all the wrong that surrounds us.
Yameen was a courageous, empathetic, gentle soul.
He was funny, he was witty, and he was a deep thinker.
He was brilliant, he was intellectual, and he would engage in debate and discussion that oftentimes would teach you more than you could him.
He was human, he was humane, and he would always, without fail, stand up for your rights no matter what you thought of him.
He is irreplaceable. He is timeless. His values, his ideas, his rebellions, his contributions to society are what he’s left in his wake for us to pick up and do with what we will.
He will never be forgotten. Yes, he was murdered, in a manner that displays the rage whoever killed him felt. But why? Because he was a better human than you could ever hope to be?
He was murdered but he has NOT been silenced.
Were you listening? Are you reading?
Then you know that he has said what he wanted to say.
It is up to you and me to make sure that those who did not get to meet him in person still get to read and ponder on everything he had time to share with us.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” – Rumi
I have talked about, written about Rilwan endlessly since 2014.
I have also mistakenly said Rilwan’s name instead of Yameen’s yesterday.
Because I still grieve for him. Because I will never forget him and move on. Because my mind is in denial that it is time to grieve for another young friend.
Rilwan has been taken from us and, to this day, we do not know where he is, how he is, or whether, in fact, he is.
If I am to describe Rilwan as I knew him all over again, I find I will be repeating a lot of what I have said just a few lines above about Yameen.
Suffice to say that Rilwan is no less a remarkable man than Yameen.
He stood unwaveringly for what he believed in. He was all for justice and fairness, and forever campaigning for the rights of the less privileged.
His disappearance is another loss to our society that no one can make up for.
I want to sit here and write my tears out. I want to say more about Rilwan, and about Yameen, but I fear I can’t right now.
My heart is broken. My soul, itself, is broken.
Before I go, one thing I want to say.
To the heartless people I’ve seen condoning Rilwan’s disappearance and Yameen’s murder:
You say they deserved to die because they are, to quote you, ‘secular atheists’.
I want to point out, this once, that this is a label YOU forced upon Rilwan, Yameen, and many others.
A person’s faith is between him and God, and I am not attempting to justify or interpret what anyone else may have felt or believed.
All I ask is for you to question yourselves. To question your stone hard judgement and callous outlook towards people who may disagree with you on any number of matters.
Stop with the hate.
In its very literal sense, live and let live.