late brother Abdul Rasheed told me over the telephone in
1988, that just past the age of 50, he suddenly developed
the ability of writing poetry. Our maternal grandfather,
Bodufenvalugey Seedi was one of the most celebrated of Maldive
poets of the twentieth century and Abdul Rasheed felt that
he might have inherited the poetic gene from Grandfather.
Abdul Rasheed compiled an anthology of his poems and miscellaneous
verses, in English and Maldivian, in 1991 with the intention
of publishing it with annotations for American readers,
but he died before he realised this goal. This is an attempt
on my part to help him realise that goal posthumously. All
of his English and Maldivian
poetry that he sent me is here. Some of this does not
feature in his light, unpublished booklet entitled Poems
and Raivaru, copies of which, some people may still
Abdul Rasheed was born on 16 October 1932,
in the Maldives, the second of my
parents' seven children. He left the Maldives to study
abroad at the age of 14, and spent his entire working life
in Canada and the United States. He specialised in obstetrics
and gynaecology and had a working interest in the use of
hypnotism in childbirth. He held a doctorate of philosophy
in hypnotism the first Maldives-born person to be admitted
to the degree of doctor of philosophy. He was also the first
Maldives-born person to qualify as a medical doctor in the
Western tradition. Although medicine was his first love,
Abdul Rasheed was a musician, a poet, a published author,
and an artist in watercolours and sketches. He was married
to Suzanne without children. They both adored cats.
a child Abdul Rasheed was a handful and as a result had
to be frequently sent to our maternal grandfather’s residence,
Bodufenvaluge. Grandfather, who was a celebrated poet, apparently
had an important influence on Abdul Rasheed’s early life.
Rasheed’s first schooling was at Sanniyya School Boys’ Division
(later renamed Majeediyya School) in Malé, where
he was head boy and did exceptionally well academically.
1946, Abdul Rasheed was sent to Colombo in Sri Lanka to
join our eldest brother Abdul Razzak who had been at school
there since 1942. He was admitted to a hostel called Sosun
Villa run by the Maldives government from where he attended
Peter’s College, a reputable Catholic school. While
he was at school in Colombo, he returned to Malé
in 1951 for 3 weeks, 1953 for 4 weeks, and 1956 for 3 weeks.
In 1958, he proceeded to Madras
Medical College in India to study medicine, graduated
with the degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of
Surgery, and finished his residency in 1965. He returned
to Malé in 1965 for a week before proceeding to Canada
on a World Health Organisation fellowship that he obtained
specialised as an obstetrician and gynaecologist in Canada
where he completed residencies at Ottawa
General Hospital in Ottawa Ontario, Henderson
General Hospital in Hamilton
Ontario and St Joseph’s Hospital in London Ontario.
He completed his doctorate of philosophy in hypnotism, from
Colombia Pacific Hospital in San Rafael, California.
met his wife Suzanne in Canada. Abdul Rasheed and Suzanne
were married at a registry office in London Ontario, Canada
on 8 October 1970.
took up Canadian nationality and he and Suzanne subsequently
moved to South
Haven in Michigan, United States in 1976. Abdul Rasheed
practised in the South Haven area of Michigan, where he
provided medical services to many patients and delivered
babies between 1976 and 1992.
Bergey was born in Brantford Canada on 4 October 1938, of
Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry. Of her early life, I know little.
I am the only member of our family who never met her, but
she often spoke to me at length over the telephone. She
came across as a very bubbly and pleasant person.
visited the Maldives by herself in 1989 and Suzanne
of the Lakes Meet was a poem that Abdul Rasheed composed
for the occasion. She took her husband to the Maldives for
his last visit in 1990.
died in October 1991 of cancer and left her husband absolutely
You I Weep was a poem Abdul Rasheed composed to mourn
his beloved Suzanne. In keeping with her wishes, Suzanne
was buried in her native Canada. Her only surviving blood
relative was a niece.
after Suzanne died I started noticing that Abdul Rasheed
cleared his throat quite frequently when he spoke to me
over the telephone. When I asked him what the matter was,
he brushed aside my concerns by quoting an old Maldive saying
which translates as: "a carpenter’s house seldom
has a door". He was a physician and was implying
that physicians may be concerned more with others’ health
than their own. Abdul Rasheed died eleven months later,
on 30 September 1992, and was buried in McDowell Cemetery
in South Haven, Michigan. A plaque honouring him was placed
in the then newly remodelled obstetrical unit at South Haven
methods make childbirth a breeze
following is an article written by staff writer Anne
Brown of the Michigan newspaper Tribune.
Abdul Rasheed’s work had featured on national television
in the United States of America.
HAVEN: He used to be afraid people would think he was "a
kook from the East who practised voodoo." Now
Dr Abdul Rasheed, M.D. Ph.D., an obstetrician-gynaecologist
at South haven Community Hospital, has pregnant patients
begging for his speciality.
his secret that is shortening labour, and eliminating mild
cases of morning sickness? Hypnosis
he does it all not with shiny coins or pendulating pocket
watches but by talking to his patients and training them
in the art of relaxation. For years hypnosis was thought
of as a type of magic and scientists still regard it as
a mystery. Even Rasheed doesn’t fully understand it.
A big question. If I tell you the mechanism I should get
a Nobel prize," he said. "We don’t know how it
works but we know how to use it."
explained that the hypnotic state is one of the brain’s
altered states that include sleep, unconsciousness and coma.
the hypnotic state the mind is more concentrated and is
free from distraction," Rasheed said, "and you
will be completely relaxed, physically and mentally, - even
more relaxed than in sleep."
characteristic of the hypnotic state is the active role
the subconscious mind plays creating a high level of suggestibility.
This is the state that Rasheed aims for so he can "suggest"
to his patients that they will have a relaxed and painless
BECAME interested in hypnosis when he was in medical school
in Canada but didn’t practise it until he came to South
haven in 1976. Then he was asked by a patient from Chicago
who had her first baby by hypnosis to help her use it again.
Rasheed said after her experience word spread quickly through
process takes place in three relaxation sessions during
which time his patients learn by listening to tapes to hypnotise
themselves. During the first meeting, Relaxation I, Rasheed
gives the first relaxation method and discusses that as
a natural function of the body, pregnancy should not be
DEPROGMAMMING and reprogramming." He said. The bottom
line is pregnancy, labour and delivery are normal processes
of the human body and all normal functions are performed
normally without pain providing they are prepared. In Relaxation
II, Rasheed urges his patients to highlight the positive
aspects and disregard any notions of pain. That is why those
listening to the relaxation tapes will never hear the word
pain. Rasheed also tells his patients to think of positive
things between the contractions, such as walking along the
beach or watching a winter scene. By the time Relaxation
III rolls around, Rasheed’s patients know how to relax themselves
to Rasheed, when his patients begin labour the whole process
comes together in a cumulative effect – and works. ‘THEY
DO SO well that the nursing staff at once recognises my
patients that have gone through the relaxation," he
of Rasheed’s patients, Barb Rumiez of South haven said the
relaxation training kept her two deliveries "pretty
much painless. The first time I didn’t even know I was in
labour, I just felt some pain in my back and by the time
I got to the hospital I was dilated," she said. One
of Rumiez’s deliveries lasted 45 minutes and the other,
a breach, lasted one hour.
of some words in the above text defer from the original
of Poems and Verses
anthology includes the English poems and verses that Abdul
Rasheed compiled in 1991, at the urging of Ambassador Sikkagey
Hussain Manikfan of the Republic of the Maldives. I have
also included other poems that he had omitted from his anthology
for various reasons. Where necessary I have inserted annotations
Annotations) for readers without a background
of pre-1950’s Maldives. That period, of course, was a very
long time before my time (I arrived on the scene very late
and remain very much a timeless "youth"!), but
I have done the necessary research. I have regrouped the
Rasheed visited the Maldives in the New Year period
of 1989-90 after being away twenty-five years. This was
his first visit in twenty five years. About a year earlier,
he wrote in an epic "letter" to me dated 7 January 1989,
that: " the following is what I would like to call
a ‘Potpourri of
Poetry’. Here you will find a mixture of short verses.
Some of them are meant to be humorous. In others, one might
detect a Sufic flair, with more than one meaning. Such verses
usually convey a universal truth, and thus remain eternally
valid and relevant, in spite of changing circumstances in
Own Introduction to the Anthology
by Abdul Rasheed in 1986
is the cream of speech
could embrace anything within reach.
music, poetry expresses one’s feelings on sentiments and
languages have rules and conventional methods for writing
poetry. However these have often been ignored even by such
giants in the field as William Shakespeare. This is not
surprising, for how could rigid, man-made rules always control
the means of expressing spontaneous and emotional states
like happiness, sorrow, or inspiration? In
the English language, the so-called "free verse",
which are very popular nowadays, allow more flexibility
for their composition. I am not sure whether or not such
a thing exists in the Maldivian Language. However, a considerable
number of Raivaru and other forms of poetry in Divehi
appear to be structured outside the norms prescribed by
the old Pundits of our poetry. This is a consolation for
me since my poems often deviate from the strictly conventional
don’t claim to be a "POET" – I am still
a mere amateur and a novice in the field, with no formal
training. And if at all the old saying that "poets
are born, not made" is true, then I regret very
much for not having tried my hands at poetry much earlier.
first poem was written only five years ago (Frisky
the Beautiful) and is given in this booklet. It came
to me very spontaneously, and ever since then I have continued
to write poetry:
come rushing into my mind of late
I possessed by the Spirit of a Poet?
do you get your verses rhyming like these?"
I said to her, much pleased:
a genetic disease,
comes to me with ease."
raivaru are a still more recent product. The first
of them was written about two years ago, soon after I had
decided to visit the Maldives, after being away for many
raivaru given here
hopefully indicate the trend of my thoughts, at the time,
and my feelings and experiences during that trip.
has been a gratifying experience for me to finally compile
these verses (both English and Maldivian) into a booklet.
Thanks to a request of Ambassador Hussain Manikfan of the
Republic of Maldives at the United Nations, for a copy of
my poems. If not for that request, they would still have
remained in their loose-leaf state.