Return of the Dead (Part 13)

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Written by: Ishtiaq Ahmad
Translated By: Hafsa bint Yar Muhammad Nizamani
   Class IX Govt. Girls’ High School Tando Qaiser

The story until now:
At last they brought her home. As soon as they rang the bell Mrs. Jamshed opened the door. She was astonished to see a woman with a child at her doorstep. Inspector Jamshed smiled and said, "Let us come in. It’s already quite late and I could do with a good night’s sleep. I’ll explain everything in the morning.”
“Just give me a few hints otherwise I won‘t be able to sleep the whole night."
Inspector Jamshed filled her in and then all of them went to bed.
The story continues:
After breakfast the next day, Inspector Jamshed called Kabuliwala.
"I waited and waited for your call last night but when you didn’t call I went to sleep. It means you didn’t find the cellar." "You are wrong. We did find it," Inspector Jamshed said.
"What? You found the cellar? I can’t believe it!”
"We not only found the cellar but something else also."
"And what was that?"
“I will tell you when you come here. This case is not as simple as it sounds. It wasn’t simple before too but now it has become even more complicated."
"May Allah have mercy on us! Will you tell me what has happened?"
"I will, when you come here."
"O. K. I am coming. Give me your address."
Inspector Jamshed gave his home address and it wasn’t long when Kabuliwala was standing before them. He seemed astonished and upset. Inspector Jamshed took him to the verandah while Begum Jamshed went inside the kitchen.
"Now tell me, what did you find in cellar? It’s still a mystery to me how a cellar exists in the mill."
“Aasma begum, come here please,” Inspector Jamshed called out.
"What do you mean … Aasma Begum, come here?"
Before Inspector Jamshed could answer, the door opened and the woman with her child came in.
"Who is she?" Mamoon Kabuliwala asked, intrigued.
“We found her in the cellar of your mill."
“What?" he shouted.
“And she says that you locked her up in the cellar."
"What?” he leapt to his feet.
"Sit down, please. She also says that you married her and she is your legal wife."
“Oh God! What is all this?" He looked at the woman and then held his head in his hands. The woman stared at him without saying a word.
"Mamoon Kabuliwala, are you fond of hunting?"
"Hunting? No, I don’t even know how to hold a rifle."
"Hmmm! The mystery deepens. We shall have to go to her village now. Mamoon Sahib, you will have to accompany us."
"This is a conspiracy against me. Very deep conspiracy. I don't know this woman at all. I was kept imprisoned in an unknown place for three years so how could I have married her?"
"Well this lady’s tale spans three years too," Inspector Jamshed smiled.
"First, will you tell me her story, please?"
“Of course. Why not."
Inspector Jamshed related the woman’s story in detail. Mamoon Kabuliwala's mouth opened again and again with astonishment. When the story ended, he started beating his head. Inspector Jasmshed caught his hands. "Come on, let’s go to the village. Ma’am can you lead us to your village?"
"Yes, why not? But not from here. Take me out of the city on Northern road, I know the way from there. When I was a child I used to come to the city with my father from that direction.”
"Ok," Inspector Jamshed agreed.
At last they reached the village.
"I have never seen this village before," Mamoon Kabuliwala said loudly.
"Oh my God, what a liar!" The woman spoke up. As soon as they got down from vehicle, the passers by stopped to gaze at them and then started shouting, "Aasma has come. Aasma has come back!” Children,young people and women came running and gathered around her.
"This proves, at least, that the woman belongs to this village," Mahmood said.
"You’re right. But I have never come to this village."
"Why are you saying that? You are Mamoon Kabuliwala. You came here three years ago, bought a house and started living here. You married sister Aasma and then one day you took her to the city. You never returned. We went to city many times to find out where you were but we couldn’t find you anywhere."
"Come, let me take you to my house,” the woman said. “My mother would like to know whewre I’ve been."
"Your mother died six months ago," one of the villagers told her.
"My mother is dead?" the woman said in a dazed voice and then burst into tears.
"This is a fraud! This is a deception. This is a conspiracy against me. I was imprisoned for three years. I have seen this woman for the first time today. I don't know anything about the cellar… when was it built under the mill and who built it?" Mamoon Kabuliwala cried, agitatedly.
"But, Mister, every single villager is ready to verify this woman's statement. Are all of them telling lies?"
"It must have been someone else who came here impersonating me. Remember a man just like me was shot dead on my door-step three years ago?" Mamoon Kabuliwala looked at Inspector Jamshed.
"Oh my God! You are right.”
"Your idea, Mamoon Kabuliwala Sahib, does carry weight. If a person, a look-alike, can be killed at your door step then why can’t a person in your get up come here too? That would mean that what all thesevillagers are saying is true and the woman is correct too. And not only that but you too are right. If it is a conspiracy against you then the conspirator is a real expert in make-up. He has no match in his skill. Are you familiar with such a person?"
"A make-up expert? Oh! Oh!” Mamoon Kabuliwala looked thunderstruck.
(to be continued)