Three planes and two winters later, I find my toes buried in white sand as the sky caresses itself into yet another glorious sunset I’d carry back with me, like a souvenir of my fondest memories. It almost feels as though I never left, and at the same time I feel like I’d been gone forever. The streets I knew like the back of my hand have seen changes they never saw in the years I spent trying to memorize them. Faces so familiar to me have all become different people. More interesting. Older. Perhaps the warmth that I’d been craving for so long constantly wrapping me up makes everything seem more appealing. Isn’t everything is more beautiful in 30 degree weather? Perhaps I never truly appreciated this place. And maybe I’ve been gone far too long, holding onto fogged memories expecting things to be exactly the same. Growing up amongst the palm trees and turqouise lagoons, I never understood how fortunate I was. Yet, I wanted to start over in a place where no one knew my name and to never have to meet the same person twice. Two years ago, when I jumped on a plane to London, one way tickets in hand, I never imagined myself wanting to come back. Yet, here I am. The girl from the Maldives who wanted nothing more than to get away from here, far too accustomed to the central London life, now taking in every breath of salty air, savouring every kiss of sunlight that trailed along skin. Suddenly, the red buses and black cabs seem all too far, all too foreign to be home. Over the past two years I’ve been to so many places and met people from all backgrounds. Not many people have been able to put their finger on where I’m from. I take pride in the fact that my olive skin and brown hair end up being such a mystery to most. As soon as I mention being from Maldives, it’s usually followed by a “Oh how lucky!” or “is it just as beautiful as the pictures?”. I cannot remember the last time I hadn’t rolled my eyes and cursed under my breath. If only they knew. But right now, I’m sitting crosslegged on a sunbed by our private infinity pool overlooking the ocean, sipping a raw coconut, the kind that you just don’t find in Europe. Frank Sinatra is playing in the background. There is this beautiful breeze and everything seems hazy and I’m finding it really hard to stay awake. All I can think in this instance is, if only you knew how blessed I was. Don’t get me wrong, there’s many aspects of being Maldivian that I do not love. Perhaps I’ll tell you about them in another post. But with the sound of the lazy ocean waves crashing against the shore, I can only focus on the positives. Maldives is more than the swoon worthy snaps of crystalline waters and tropical islands. The perfect sight of luxury that you see all over the internet does not do it justice in the least bit. We are a language that has every vowel and pronounciation in it but is spoken by only a few hundred thousand. We are the tan skin and sunkissed hair running freely on white sandy beaches that’s never felt winter; the land of eternal summer. We are the stories surrounded by the ocean, the crescent that represent our faith and the blood shed by our heroes. We are one of the smallest nations ever, yet the whole world stops and stares in awe of it’s beauty. There is heaven on earth and if you wish to catch a glimpse of it, this is where you need to be.
I’m wearing: Missguided white cheesecloth crotchet bardot dress, Dior reflected sunnies and Celine trio bag
Photography by Ahmed Shaffan Mohamed