In the 60s, my grandfather (Maafaa) bartered most of the gold in his possession for a bicycle.
If you are from F’mulah, I will tell you who my grandfather was and some background. My grandfather was Ahammadhufuthuge (Moorithigey of Miskiymago) Ibrahim Didi and he was a metal worker.
The bicycle was owned by Nayaagey Rekibeybey. Maafaa gets betel leaves from Kalho Maabe-age but when he had to go to Dhoondigan and walk a few kilometres further, he went and exchanged most of the gold he owned for a bike.
Bicycles were rare in those days and the one that Maafaa bought was probably one of the very first bicycles brought to F’mulah. It may have been a status symbol and a luxury for many, but for Maafaa, it was the functionality and utility it provided.
For Maafaa, that bicycle was a vehicle that helped him move from point A to point B faster. Knowing Maafaa and having spent time with him during his last years, I kind of understand what he thought. He never told me why he bought the bicycle, but I will hazard a guess.
Maafaa was an introvert and you could get a big smile out of him but a full-fledged conversation was not his cup of tea. This was of course different with us. He always collected his betel ‘dhe namaadha dheythere’ (between two prayers – meaning between Maghrib (sunset) and Ishaa prayers). From Moorithigey to Maalegan was a relatively short walk and back in those when the island was sparsely populated, not many people would stop him for a chat and also fewer houses along the way meant less light (there was no electricity back then) so fewer people saw him. When he had to go to Dhoodigan, everything changed. It took him longer to walk and having to punctuate his walk with people stopping him to ask where he was going was not something he wanted to face.
At the end of the day, he wanted to get his betel run done between Maghrib and Isha. Go after Maghrib and be home before the call for Isha and he was not going to get this done if he walked on foot. He was a nice person so he would not ignore anyone who spoke to him on the way.
We all buy our ‘bicycles’ and rationalize our decisions internally but to an outside observer, what we buy may not make any sense.