Chapter 10 — Rhymes in Rain
Ali Akbar locked the door of the house from outside and put the key below the flowerpot near the window. Amru Yamin and his men were standing outside the two cars standing on the road. It was raining and the light was slowly going out in the evening. Ali Abbas waited for him with an umbrella in his hand.
Ali Abbas looked back at the house for the last time. He had stayed there for one year. He looked at the adjacent houses and the houses in front, across the road. He knew most people who lived there. He looked further down the road and saw the city recreation centre. He had gone there once every week and made a few friends there. He had to leave them now.
The residents of West Zais district where he had stayed for twelve months were friendly, but not very curious. This had suited Ali Abbas well and he had adapted himself to the community and the surroundings. Without drawing much attention to himself, he had adjusted to the plain routine of his life here. It was quite a change from the pace at ‘Hedusha’.
Ali Abbas got into the first car with Ali Akbar. Amru Yamin sat in the front. One of his men was in the driver’s seat. The rest of his men took the other car. It was time to say goodbye to West Zais which had been good to him. Abbas felt sorry to leave it so soon.
“Stop at the park near the entrance to the city,” said Abbas. Akbar looked at him and conveyed the directions to Amru.
The car reached the park, but it kept on raining hard. Reaching the gate of the park, the car stopped. The other car with Amru’s men also stopped. This was not the plan, but Amru had told them a few minutes back, so they were prepared.
Abbas and Akbar got out from the car, as did everyone else. Abbas asked Akbar to take out his small suitcase from the trunk of the car and carry it with him. A surprised Akbar did as he was told. Abbas entered the park and everyone followed a few steps behind.
After walking about half-a-kilometre, Abbas came near a bench. He took off his raincoat and stood in the rain, getting himself wet. He kept looking up in the rain for a minute and then sat on the bench. Those who were following behind looked at each other and kept standing in the rain.
“Open my suitcase and take out the book that is on top,” said Ali Abbas to Akbar. Placing the suitcase on the bench, Akbar opened the suitcase and took out the book.
“Open it at Page 51 and read the highlighted lines loudly,” said Abbas again.
Akbar did as he was told. Flipping through the pages in the rain, he came to Page 51 and saw the marked lines. He started reading loudly:
“If you find the strength to fight, keep calm.
If you find doubt along the way, keep calm.
If you find people ready to fall for you, keep calm.
When you keep calm, the dots join together in a line.
The line leads you to your destiny with a clear sign.”
Akbar looked at Abbas. Abbas nodded his head and stretched his hand wordlessly asking for the book. When Akbar put the open book in his hand, Abbas glanced at Page 51 for a few seconds. Looking up, he looked at Amru and his men keenly watching him.
The men stood in water and rain in a rough line along with Ali Akbar. Abbas understood that the dots had come together.
“This departure is a sign. We have to keep calm. The dots are coming together again. Ali Brothers are coming together again,” said Abbas. He got up from the bench, tossed the book on the ground and started walking back to the park exit.
General Jazlaan was now wearing civilian clothes. He thought it would be better to take off his uniform. He wanted to project a more informal manner so that he could communicate more openly and effectively.
Aazeen hadn’t seen the General without uniform much, so she was surprised when she came into the room and saw the General sipping coffee in a casual manner. ‘Was this some kind of message to her and everyone,’ she thought to herself.
She smiled slightly and said, “Oh…so you are not in uniform now sir. Bit surprising, but then again, you would have a reason.”
“Yes, there is always some reason behind what I do. I rarely do anything random or without giving it proper thought,” said the General.
“Like, there is a reason why we are here,” said Aazeen.
“Yes again. We are here because of Ali Abbas. We have to take him to the President of the High Council alone for a meeting,” said the General.
Aazeen was taken aback by this information. She had been briefed by the General that they were here in ‘Hedusha’ so they could meet Ali Abbas when he comes and take whatever information he had to offer related to his absence.
What the General had said was something completely different. ‘How was that going to be possible,’ thought Aazeen. She could have been told about it earlier, before they had come here.
“You are the best person to convince Ali Abbas that this has to be done. If Abbas is convinced then everyone else will go along with it,” said the General.
“But why me? Why don’t you explain this yourself to Abbas when he comes back,” said Aazeen raising here voice a bit.
The General then told Aazeen that Ali Abbas would only trust her with this action. He would do so because he knew that you had saved Ali Mohammad that day in the fight with Sepitus Wood.
“Mohammad thinks you had deserted him. But instead you had helped him quietly without either him or Sepitus Wood knowing that you had helped Mohammad. You gained Sepitus trust by showing your support for those he despised,” said the General.
Aazeen got some idea of what the General was trying to get her to do. The General could not communicate this thought with Abbas, as Abbas wouldn’t listen to him. Abbas knew that the General had compromised security of Ali Mohammad that day. Due to this, Sepitus was able to get to him. In the fight that followed, Mohammad was on the ground asking for help of the General, who was close by, but instead he just dropped out of the situation.
“You can talk with Abbas in the best possible way. You are the best option,” said the General.
“And I had no idea that you were planning this General Jazlaan,” said Ali Hussain as he opened the door and entered the room. “I am sorry I couldn’t help overhear what the two of you were discussing. I can assure you that right now I am more surprised than you are.”
The General and Aazeen looked at each other in alarm. They remained seated.
“Now the only question that needs a good answer here is: Why does the President of the High Council want to meet Ali Abbas alone?” said Ali Hussain.