Secrets in Safe
Bunty, Goldie and Raja, aka the triad sat staring at the safe they had just unloaded from the van as if it were a cobra! They had never done anything illegal before but in this case the cause justified the means.
They were all headed back to India during summer break and by a mere fluke they had been privy to a cryptic text message on a fellow passenger’s cell phone. They had quickly noted down all the info and had decided to investigate upon landing.
Raja’s dad was a bigwig in the airline’s corporate staff. Through his aegis they acquired full data with copy of fellow passenger’s passport. Their job had been made easy by this information. The safe’s secret had to be unlocked to get to heart of the matter. Excitement tinged with fear was palpable.
Raja was tall and reedy in structure with a prominent adam’s apple but due to his dark liquid eyes, all the girls shamelessly gave him chase in the college campus. He was shy to boot.
Bunty and Goldie were the extreme opposites and were constantly riding love’s seesaw on an off and on basis. Bunty was of rugged build, fair and tall and had a wonderful voice. Hence he too was much sought after.
Goldie was the nerd of the triad and hence kept them afloat in studies singlehandedly. Goldie was hooked on workouts, if not busy solving difficult problems. He spent half of his free time tackling weights. His body was like a Greek God’s and hence cynosure of many eyes of both genders.
The passport revealed the name of the passenger to be Salim Malik. The message had come from a girl named Ameena Begum. On further research they were able to locate the whereabouts of Ameena. They had to find the alleged safe quickly to get to the bottom of this plot. Here they faced a stone wall. They went into a huddle to solve this issue.
Fortunately everyone was from Mumbai which made things much easier. They solicited aid from local police station officer (SHO) who thought if this yields some crime in the making, he would make headlines and hence helped them with all means at his disposal. With inside information from the cell phone service provider they had nailed down the exact location of the house and hence the safe. The police usually made the rounds in the riot prone areas and hence their SHO with help from his Mohamed Ali road counterpart, effected a raid on Ameena’s house.
Ameena’s father Abbas Baig was a cab driver and father of five girls. Ameena’s mother Samina Begum was deathly scared of her bully husband and did his bidding. Hence the children suffered without respite being girls. The SHO had seen the dilapidated safe hidden in a small alcove in the backroom wall covered by a dirty curtain. He told the triad that now it was up to them to retrieve, open and put back without anyone the wiser.
The trio rejected the numerous invites from local friends and relations and went into a huddle. A series of festivals were imminent and the streets would be teeming with processions and an odd blast here and there to create communal disharmony. Keeping all this in mind, they designed a harmless noisemaker as a diversion and planted it near Ameena’s house. As everyone ran out, they ran in and retrieved the safe.
Finally the SHO with expert help pried open the safe and it yielded three neat dollar bundles along with passports of Ameena, Samira and Aamna the three older girls aged 17,16 and 15 years. All had Saudi Arabia visa stamps in them. Apparently the girls were being sold to rich Saudi sheikhs. They were all shook up to confront this human trafficking by a parent. Now they wondered how Salim Malik their plane’s co-passenger fit in here. They decided to visit him.
The SHO explained the whole situation to Salim and then he told them of his own heartache. He was in love with Ameena from childhood but knew her abba (dad) was bent upon encashing all his daughters and had forbidden them from meeting. They were only able to meet near their school or the mosque at given times. They communicated via a note they left under a designated stone at a nearby park. About two years ago Salim had gone to USA on scholarship and had been saving money to buy off Ameena from her Abba. The information about safe and other details were messaged to Salim by a desperate Ameena who was scheduled to be married within the fortnight to a Saudi Sheikh along with her two younger sisters who had brokered a deal for all three of them paying handsomely to cab driver Abbas Baig, their father. Now all the pieces fell in place. The girls were under age and hence this was an illegal trade.
The SHO openly returned the safe back to Ameena’s house even as the camera’s from all news channels rolled in live action. Abbas Baig was arrested and all the girls were rescued. Ameena and Salim Malik were married by the mosque priest and rest of the girls along with their mother were whisked off to a new neighborhood under different names with relevant paper work, ration card etc… With Salim’s permission, Ameena sent money to her mother each month to meet all the expenses. No one missed cruel Abbas Baig.
Ten years later
Raja, Goldie and Bunty as preplanned inaugurated their brand new NGO called Safe Haven meant for all homeless, abused and society’s pariahs seeking care and shelter.