Mourning a loss like no other

I had two friends. 

Photo @shaari

Had.

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“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.”

-Rumi

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“So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?”
-Theoden, Lord of the Rings

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Ahmed Rilwan – abducted, 8 August 2014

Yameen Rasheed – murdered, 23 April 2017

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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.

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Yameen

‘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.

Rilwan

“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.

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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.

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13 thoughts on “Mourning a loss like no other

    • What a wonderful tribute to your amazing friends. How lucky you were to have had such great people in your life. Your writing and affection for them and their message is inspiring. Good work, and I’m sorry for your loss.

  1. May Allah bless his soul.
    Had the previledge of meeting Yamin face to face at times, discusssed about current issues + hot topic we discuss on twitter + discuss on failure of police institution as they work like a party Gofi of government+++
    His murderers should and will be brought to justice soon.

  2. Never met Yameen or Rilwan but they sound like such great minded people. I was so sad to hear about his death yesterday and continues to hope that Rilwan will be found safe and sound someday.
    I’m so sorry for your tremendous loss. May he rest in peace.

  3. Cannot even fathom your grief right now. But I pray that your friends are in a better place – a place where people do not take souls for differences in opinion. I would like to pray for a day that we get justice for them, but in a place where they sell your soul, how can one hope for justice? 😔
    May their words live through you, through us. ❓🎈

  4. Dont know rilwan or yaameen personally. But this portrays what amazing people they were. I am a keen reader of yaameen’s blogs and posts. Infact always looking forward for his next post. His ‘this week in maldives’ in particular gives a more insightful and clear picture of our pitiful country’s state than any of the news reported anywhere here. i am so going to miss him. Felt sad and a sudden emptiness when he was snatched away from us so brutally. Glad to know a bit more about him and Rilwan. Thank you. I pray that god give you strength to stay strong.

  5. I don’t know these bright, courageous young men but know those who love them. I am unfathomably sorry for their absences–death and disappearance. I am grateful for your tribute and am sure that their legacies and spirits are unending. Peace to you who love them and continue to do the work they did with passion and courage.

  6. I have no idea y when someones killed people start blaming that it is done by the so called “dheeny harukashi meehun” but as long as i know if it is done by them they wont kill him that brutally. And eventhough if they kill him they will give him an easy death. So i dont think that it is done by those religious activists.

    • Hi Mohamed, personally I have no idea who the perpetrator(s) of this gruesome murder is are.
      I think the general accusations against extremists, at least in Yameen’s case, are coming because of the countless death threats he has been receiving for years now.
      Whoever it actually is, I just want them to be brought to justice.

  7. So heartfelt and beautifully written . I hope and pray that you get the strength and patience to keep writing and remembering . That’s how they will live. That’s how they live. May the perpetrators be brought to justice. 🎈

  8. I don’t think I’ll ever cry for a stranger like I did for Yaamyn. We’d never met but he wasn’t a stranger to me. He was my friends friend. But I’d had the honour of talking to him a couple of times. Such intelligence and humour, with strong conviction and yet, gentle and kind. And a phenomenal writer (I read his writing from when Rilwan disappeared). All in one human being. Truly, his death is a loss that will never be fathomed. I am truly sorry for your loss, both Rilwan and Yaamyn.

  9. Pingback: Mourning a loss like no other – Poetic Bliss

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