From One Hell to Another (Kashmir Connection)- Chapter Twelve-back in Us

They left her there and walked out of the room. Mumtaz looked around and saw the two women staring at her. She understood that they were also from the investigating agency. Besides those two women, there was a butler in the house. After a minute, she heard the sound of the departing car.

Chapter Twelve-Back in US

When she was back in New York, she was surrounded by the FBI at the tarmac, near the aircraft. The son was sleeping in her arms. Two of them held her gently by her elbows and requested her to enter the black car waiting there. Mumtaz did not know what all that was but she had no other option.

She was made to sit in the centre on the back seat, with one officer on either side. She was obviously nervous but she tried to look composed and at ease. The car ride was over in about twenty minutes and it stopped in front of a house that was in no way different from any other house in the vicinity, though the locality was unknown to her. She knew that she was somewhere in the outskirts of New York because she could have recognized the area had it been somewhere in the city proper.

There were a few other people waiting inside the house. Mumtaz had no idea that they were FBI because they were all in colourful clothes. There were two women inside the house.

She was made to sit on a sofa in the centre of the room. One of the women stepped forward and took the boy from her.

The Woman: I will place him comfortably in the bed over there.

Mumtaz looked in the direction of the finger she had pointed. A little bed was there and she felt relieved.

A Young Man: We have a few questions for you to answer and then we will take you back to Alabama, your home.

Mumtaz: But I have already told them everything I know at the Embassy in New Delhi.

Second Young Man: That’s right madam, but there are certain formalities.

An Elderly Man: It is an official interrogation and you are supposed to speak truth because all this will be on record.

Mumtaz: I have nothing to hide.

First Young Man: Would you like to eat something before we begin?

Mumtaz: No, thanks, I had had a little in the plane.

The Elderly Man: All right then. Mumtaz, you practise Islam, don’t you?

Mumtaz: Yes, I do.

The Elderly Man: And your husband, Michael, is a Christian?

Mumtaz: Yes, he is a devout Christian.

The Elderly Man: Why did you marry a Christian American?

Mumtaz: We love each other! Is it not enough?

Second Young Man: No, there is nothing wrong in marrying, but a Muslim girl marrying a Christian man raises a few questions.

Mumtaz: And what are those questions?

The Elderly Man: Your brother was arrested after the 9/11 but he was released the next day. Am I right, Mumtaz?

Mumtaz: Yes, he was released because he was innocent.

The First Young Man: Did you ever visit your parents after your marriage?

Mumtaz: No, never.

The Second Young Man: But you continued to meet your brother, didn’t you?

Mumtaz: Yes, I did, because he is not like my parents. He respects Michael and he loves me.

The Elderly Man: What does your brother do, Mumtaz?

Mumtaz: He is a teacher.

The Second Young Man: In an Islamic school if I am not wrong?

Mumtaz: Yes, he teaches the Holy Koran to the children.

The Elderly Man: Why didn’t he object to your marriage? Isn’t it against Sharia?

Mumtaz: I didn’t know about it.

The First Young Man: But your brother knew about it. Why did he allow you to marry a Christian young man?

Mumtaz: What do you mean?

The Elderly Man: We smell something, Mumtaz, and we want the truth.

Mumtaz: I haven’t concealed anything.

The First Young Man: What did you two talk about when your brother met you many times after your marriage?

Mumtaz: Nothing special, just family things.

The Elderly Man: No, madam, a religious Muslim teacher does not fly from New York to Alabama just to talk family affairs with his sister!

Mumtaz: I don’t understand what you are talking about?

The First Young Man: Your brother and you were preparing Michael as a blind for something big.

Mumtaz (shocked): What the hell! I don’t know what you are talking about.

The Elderly Man: Shouting is not going to help. If you don’t answer our questions, your return home is going to be delayed. You will have to stay here for a few days. We will be back tomorrow.

Mumtaz: But I have already told you everything. Why don’t you let us go?

The Second Young Man: We will but after getting the answers.

They left her there and walked out of the room. Mumtaz looked around and saw the two women staring at her. She understood that they were also from the investigating agency. Besides those two women, there was a butler in the house. After a minute, she heard the sound of the departing car.

Mumtaz realized for the first time that she was in a big mess. How they were trying to join the threads was unthinkable! She had never ever dreamt that her brother would be dragged into it. The words ‘something big’ were ringing in her mind. She wiped her tears and looked around but she did not find the thing she was searching phone. She wanted to phone her brother but she knew that they won’t allow her.

For the first time in her life she really felt helpless and lonely in that captivity. In Srinagar there was hope because she knew that people from US Embassy would come to rescue her but it was different here. She was a prisoner in her own country.

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