Written by: Ishtiaq Ahmad
Translated By: Hafsa bint Yar Muhammad Nizamani Class IX Govt. Girls’ High School Tando Qaiser
The story until now:
“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.
The story continues:
Arif Jolani reached the mill in 20 minutes. He was a tall, thin young man wearing golden-framed spectacles.
"Yes, I am Arif Jolani. What can I do for you?"
"I just want to ask you a simple question. Is there a cellar under this mill?" Inspector Jamshed asked him.
''Cellar? What do you mean?"
''A cellar is an underground room, if you don’t know,” Farooq explained patiently. Arif Jolani stared at him. Then turning towards Inspector Jamshed he said, ''There’s no cellar here. Not as far as I know.”
"On the other hand we are positive that there is the cellar here somewhere."
"If it is then show me where it is,'' he said angrily.
"Maamoon Kabuliwala wasn’t here for three years so you should know where it is," Inspector Jamshed looked at him sternly.
"No, you are wrong. The person who has been posing as Mamoon Kabuliwala says he has been missing for three years. In reality Mamoon Kabuliwala was murdered three years ago and buried in the presence of all of us. Therefore that person's statement is wrong. Bye the way what does your question have to do with the cellar? I don’t understand."
"Maybe Mamoon Kabuliwala was incarcerated in the cellar of this mill for three years? He says that there were some unknown men who had held him captive.”
''The best solution is to find the so-called cellar. Everything will be clear then."
"You know what that will lead to, don’t you?” Inspector Jamshed smiled.
"What do you mean?"
''That what will happen if we do find the cellar?"
"You won’t be able to involve me even then.”
''And why not?''
''You will have to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was involved in kidnapping Mamoon Kabuliwala and that I had the cellar built."
"Yes that is so. Anyway we have to see whether a cellar does exist under this mill or not," Inspector Jamshed said with a sigh.
“Then, allow me to go home. Why should I spoil my sleep? When you find the cellar, call me and I will come."
''Ok, you may go but…” Inspector Jamshed smiled meaningfully.
“You will go from here with two of my men. And as soon as you reach your home, you will go to sleep. My men will keep a watch over you so that you may not escape.”
"Which means that you do not trust me.''
“No, I do trust you but not completely."
''Have it your way,” Arif Jolani said shrugging his shoulders.
Inspector Jamshed gave instructions to Ikram who sent two of his subordinates with Arif Jolani.
All of them started searching for the cellar again. They checked each wall by knocking on it. They also tapped the floor. The fireplace was checked carefully but they couldn’t find a clue to the missing cellar. At last, getting tired, they came back to the spot where Mamoon Kabuliwala had received a shock and where Farzana had heard the voice of a child.
"I think whatever it is, it is somewhere here. Every inch of this place must be checked," Farzana said.
"Oh ok, we will do that too," Farooq grimaced.
They began checking the place with renewed intensity but the result … nothing. They were completely baffled and tired.
“I don’t think there is any secret room here,” Khan Rehman said.
“I agree with you. My instruments have showed me nothing.”
“And I have discovered the door to the cellar,” Farzan announced.
What???” all of them exclaimed.
All of them stared at Farzana. Inspector Jamshed's eyes were also wide with surprise. "Are you sure Farzana?" he asked softly.
"Yes, I am. But… but haven’t you noticed it too?” Farzana asked astonished.
"No I haven’t but that doesn’t matter. Tell us where the door is, good girl.”
"This is a very big hall in front of us. There are different types of machines installed in here and the floor is covered with only one sort of tiles. Yet there is a tile of a different colour under that wall over there. Why? Did the tiles run short? And only one more was needed? Very strange!"
"You are right, that sounds very peculiar indeed. Let’s go and check it."
The tile was definitely of a different colour and practically new.
“Farzana, your powers of observation are excellent. None of us had given it any importance." Inspector Jamshed praised her.
"Thank you father!"
"We second that," Professor Daud said quickly. Khan Rahman nodded too.
"Thank you both of you," Farzana said with a smile.
"Now will you stop lapping up all the praise and get to work on this tile?” Mehmood asked, annoyed.
"I discovered the tile and now it’s up to you to work on it.”
"Right!" they both said and set to work on it. They applied force on the tile. But nothing happened. They pressed it from here and there, they pressed it in the middle but it did not move.
"Farzana, I think we are barking up the wrong tree."
Farzana shot up from where she was sitting.
"Now what? You got another brainwave?” Farooq stared at her.
"I just heard the sound again. A baby crying. Oh God what is this? We can’t find the cellar and the baby is crying.”
“Mahmood, quick, give me your knife," Inspector Jamshed said.
"Knife… knife?" Mahmood’s eyes opened wide.
"No, only one knife," Farrooq said making a face.
Mahmood stared at him, then took out the knife from the heel of his shoe and handed it to Inspector Jamshed. Inspector Jamshed opened the knife and with its tip, made a circle around the tile. The next moment a ring formed around it. Inspector Jamshed inserted the knife under the tile, applied a little force, and the tile swiveled off the floor as if there was a lever under it.
“Oh! My God!” Farzana exclaimed. Looking in, they saw a knob like thing in the middle of a stone. With the name of Allah, Inspector Jamshed turned it. Suddenly, with a grating sound a door appeared in the wall. Stairs could be seen going down.
"We did it!” Farooq, Mahmood and Farzana shouted excitedly. Suddenly all of them heard the baby crying. They became upset.
"Ikram, stay here with your subordinates and see that nothing goes wrong,” Inspector Jamshed ordered.
All of them descended the stairs quickly. Inspector Jamshed had his revolver ready. Then as soon as they reached the bottom their eyes opened wide with surprise.
(to be continued)