Written by: Ishtiaq Ahmad
Translated By: Hafsa bint Yar Muhammad Nizamani Class IX Govt. Girls’ High School Tando Qaiser
''What do you mean?" Mahmood asked her.
''I’ve found out why Mamoon received such a shock when he reached here.''
“And you have received a shock too?” Farooq looked at her, startled.
"I want to ask Mamoon Kabuliwala something and then I will tell you."
''But we can’t do that. We can’t call him at this time of the night. He will be sleeping."
''We are awake, aren’t we? If he gets up for a few minutes all hell won’t break loose will it?”
''Don’t worry Farzana, I will call him. Tell me, what do you want to ask him?''
''Ask him if his ears are very sharp."
"This is too much! Now she wants to compare her ears with his," Mahmood rolled his eyes.
“I am not fond of comparing anyone’s ears,'' Farzana glared at him.
''Really? And we never knew that,” Farooq looked astonished.
“Knew what?” Farzana asked, nettled.
"That you are not fond of comparing of ears,'' Farooq grinned.
“Does that make any sense, anyone?” Farzana appealed to the others.
"Stop talking for a minute and let me call Mamoon Kabuliwala, will you?'' Inspector Jamshed interrupted them. Professor Daud and Khan Rahman started laughing. Inspector Jamshed dialed the number and Mamoon Kabuliwala answered immediately.
"You are awake, Maamoon sahib?"
"Yes I am. I can’t sleep, I’m so tense about this whole affair.''
"Well, I want to ask you something. I hope you don’t mind?"
"Of course not. Why should I mind? You are working on my case after all.''
"Right. Well what I want to know is that are your ears very sharp?"
"Yes, they are but why are you asking this?"
"I can’t tell you the reason just now."
"Ok, it doesn’t matter. My ears really are extraordinarily sharp."
"Now, tell me what startled you so badly in the mill? Did you hear something or did you see someone?"
“I....I...I…" he stammered.
“Go on. Tell me what happened."
“I heard a sound."
"O.k, thank you," Inspector Jamshed said and switched off the phone. Then turning to his companions he said, “Mamoon Kabuliwala says he did not see anything, he heard a voice. Farzana?"
"I also heard a sound... the sound of a baby crying."
“What did you say?” they all cried out.
"I said I heard a baby crying," Farzana said confidently.
Inspector Jamshed dropped down to his knees and bending, put his ear to the floor. Suddenly his eyes opened wide with surprise.
''No! I don’t believe it.”
"What… what’s the matter Jamshed?'' Professor Daud asked, alarmed.
"I… I just heard a baby crying too. It stops crying and then starts again after a few minutes. There must be a cellar under the floor and a child seems to be imprisoned in it."
''What?'' they all shouted. Then they became anxious about the baby. Once again they called Mamoon Kabuliwala. ''Did you hear a baby crying that day in the mill?"
"Wha...what? No, no I didn’t," came his frightened voice.
"You’ve no need to be afraid. You can trust me," said Inspector Jamshed quickly.
"Well yes. I did hear the sound of a baby crying. But how can there be a baby in the mill?”
"I think that there is a cellar in the mill and a child is imprisoned in it. If you know door to the cellar please tell me instantly."
“No, I don’t know anything about a cellar. I was missing for three years, remember?”
“We will have to call your manager now."
"But why? Why are you doing that?"
"Now that we know about the existence of a cellar we won’t rest until we find it. You have been missing for three years and if the cellar has been built in your absence then your manager is responsible for it. By the way, did you build the mill yourself or did you buy it?"
"My grandfather laid its foundation. I have heard that first he bought the land, then he built the mill on it. My father helped him. After my grandfather died my father became the sole owner because my grandfather had no other descendant. In this way, I became the owner of this factory after my father's death. Now, if my grandfather had built the cellar, I don't know anything about it at all. My father never mentioned it to me."
"Ok. You can go back to sleep now," Inspector Jamshed said and switched off his phone. Then he dialed Arif Jolani's number. The bell kept on ringing for some time and then a sleepy voice said, "Hollo! Who is this? Couldn’t you have called in the daytime?"
“Inspector Jamshed speaking. I would like a word with you.”
Oh, I see. You are investigating Mamoon Kabuliwala's case, aren’t you?''
"Yes I am.”
“Then what do you want with me?"
"I want you to come to the mill as quickly as you can."
"At this time?" he asked, incredulously.
''Yes, at this time.''
''But this is my bedtime.''
"This is our bedtime too but we are working aren’t we?”
"You can do whatever you like, that is not my concern," he said rudely.
“If you don't want to come, ok. We shall talk to you in the morning. But remember that you refused to come at our request."
"Are you threatening me?"
"No, it is not a threat, just a reminder. I’m just requesting you to come here and help us in our investigations.''
"Ok, Ok. I’m coming,” Arif Jolani said, giving in.
"Thank you very much. We are waiting for you.”
''I’ll be there in 20 minutes.''
"All right,” Inspector Jamshed said, switching off the phone.
(to be continued)