Maa Baaba stepped into her own shop at the Mamobi Market with broad smiles. Chief Haveh had stocked the stall with tomatoes, onion, pepper, cucumber, carrot and many more. She was happy with her new job and was assured she could cater for her family needs now. Her husband Afrane was already gaining his sanity and hence he could do petty jobs to support.
Sophie went to her mother’s stall as soon as she closed from school. Her three other siblings were already there when she arrived in the company of Esinam.
“Welcome,” Maa Baaba smiled at the girls.
“Thanks.” They chorused.
Sophie looked happy. Chief Haveh kept showering her family with gifts and she was very grateful. Their room had been painted again and the old curtains had been replaced with new ones. The door leading to their room had been replaced and the floor cushioned carpets.
In return for the kindness, Sophie offered to help with house chores at Chief’s residence. It was fun and lovely helping at the Haveh’s household on the weekends. The school’s end of year party was taking place that Saturday but Sophie was performing household chores at the Haveh’s. Sophie was busily mopping the kitchen floor when Chief Haveh arrived in the company of his friend. They passed by her after saying “hello” and went to the lounge to discuss some personal issues. Sophie took a bottle of wine from the refrigerator to serve the men.
They were too engrossed with what they were doing and only looked up when Sophie arrived with the wine. She opened it and poured it in a glass. Chief Haveh murmured a “thank you” to Sophie and she turned to leave. Half-way through the corridor, Sophie realized she had left the tray at the lounge. She turned to go back for it. As she got near, she heard the two men whispering and suddenly something they were discussing caught her interest.
“Has he paid the money?” She heard Chief Haveh ask.
“Not yet but we’ve succeeded in kidnapping the girl.” The other man said.
“Well done,” Chief Haveh smiled broadly.
“Kidnapping?” The word kept ringing in Sophie’s ears as she went about with her chores.
She was wondering what they were up to when a presenter on the television mentioned kidnapping. Sophie almost froze in her tracks. Her prime suspect was Chief Haveh but she wondered what she could do about it.
At school the next day, Madam Aku discussed the issue of patriotism and Sophie found the topic very interesting.
“Madam”, Sophie stood up to ask a question. “What can we do as individuals to assist the police in investigations?”
“That’s a very good question. As individuals, we can help with police investigations if we report what we know about an incidence.”
“Madam,” Sophie delved further. “What if the individual suspected of the crime is a very important personality?”
“It doesn’t matter; no one is above the laws in this country. You should be determined to be a patriotic citizen.”
Sophie nodded her head and took her seat. Later in the day, it was announced on radio the daughter of the Finance Minister had been reported missing. Sophie’s mind drifted to the discussion she had earlier in the day about patriotism. She suspected Chief Haveh and the other man as the brain the kidnapping. But she had no evidence to prove so.
“Mummy, have you ever wondered what Chief Haveh does for living?” Sophie asked her mother when she closed from school that day.
Maa Baaba turned sharply to look at her daughter.
“No, but I’m sure he has a very big company or he works at a very big place.”
Sophie looked around her. The place was quiet and she drew close to her mother.
“I think Chief Haveh has been kidnapping people.”
Maa Baaba nearly dropped the sack of onions she was holding.
“Did I hear you well?”
“Mummy, he was discussing it with a friend and I happened to hear it.”
“Listen,” Maa Baaba pulled her daughter inside the stall. “You better shut up else…”
Sophie sulked and trudged home. She was so convinced that Chief Haveh is involved in the case and nothing could change that perception. “Mummy, I think we should report Chief Haveh to the police.” Sophie broached the topic once again.
“Sophie, you are only a child and shouldn’t interfere in adult issues. Leave the police to do their work….”
“Shut up Sophie,” Maa Baaba almost screamed at Sophie. “You are such an ingrate. Have you thought of the many good things Chief Haveh has done for this family?
Maa Baaba nearly hit her daughter in anger.
“Shut up and listen to what I’m telling you!” Maa Baaba spoke, highly irritated this time. “Chief Haveh has been very kind to us by paying all our bills. Francis no longer has to work for the woman to earn income. Because of his gesture, I no longer have to carry heavy loads in the sun to support my family. If it wasn’t for this man, how could we afford medicine to help your dad gain his sanity?”
“Mummy, I understand all you’ve said. But don’t you think Chief Haveh is in a way robbing Peter to pay Paul?”
“Who cares about that anyway? Reporting Chief Haveh means betraying the man who made your dream come true. Did you not wish I would find a decent job to support the family? And now that we’ve almost achieved this, you want to ruin everything? Is this your way of saying ‘thank you’ to him?”
“Mummy,” Sophie tried to reason with her again. “Madam Aku told us that as good citizens of the country, we should exhibit patriotism.”
“Stop it Sophie!” Maa Baaba flared up, utterly flabbergasted. “Have you thought of Esinam? Have you wondered the consequences of your allegation against her father? Do you have any evidence?”
“Then shut up! Let sleeping dog lie.” Maa Baaba got up, leaving her daughter alone.
Sophie was very disturbed. Her mother was right. Chief Haveh was a generous man who had helped to change the lives of everyone in her family. She thought of the consequences of her allegation against him.
When the daughter of another minister was reported missing during the same week, Sophie thought it was time to act. She rushed to the nearest police station as soon as she closed from school to report Chief Haveh.
“Oh really?” The police man seemed interested in what Sophie was saying. “Do you have any evidence?”
“No sir,” Sophie replied. “But I overheard him discussing it with his friend.
“Alright, can you please come with me to the headquarters? The IGP needs to hear this.”
Sophie got on board the police van and they sped off. Suddenly, something strange happened to Sophie. She opened her eyes, only to find out to she was lying on a cold bare floor. Everything around her was dark and she could hardly make anything out.
“Where am I?” Sophie asked herself.
“You were brought here this afternoon.” A voice answered. Sophie shook with fright. It sounded like a female voice.
“Relax, I’ll do you no harm. I was kidnapped and brought here some days back.”
Sophie felt a sharp pain in her heart region. She was trying to recall what happened earlier in the afternoon.
“Who brought you here?” Sophie asked.
“A policeman.” The girl answered simply.
“Oh my God,” Sophie almost wailed. “But why? Is this the police headquarters?”
“Police headquarters?” The girl laughed hysterically. “Do you think this place looks like the police headquarters? Anyway, what brought you here?”
“Well…” Sophie hesitated for a while before speaking. “You know kidnapping has been rampant in the nation’s capital and I suspected someone so I reported it to the police.”
“And the police turned out to be an accomplice to the suspect.” The girl cut in.
Sophie quivered. “What are you trying to say?”
“Don’t you get it? The prime suspect for this recent kidnapping incidence has been blackmailing people ever since he voluntarily retired from active service. He has been on the police wanted list for years but no one has been able to trace him yet. The sad thing was that he had succeeded in bribing the policeman,” the girl’s voice sounded sad.
“That man is a criminal. He deserves to be punished.”
“Who are you? You seem to know much about the kidnapper.”