I was on my way back home from school when I saw two men lifting a child and getting into a car. The child was crying at the top of his lungs!

Instinctively, I nudged my friend Aaniya to look. “What are those men over there doing? Oh no, I think they’re kidnapping that boy!” I said to Aaniya.

Aaniya wasn’t so sure and said with a laugh, “Hmmm, maybe. Or maybe you just watch too many thrillers. First impressions are often wrong, you know Sara.”

“But what if they are kidnapping that boy? As responsible citizens, it’s our duty to ensure everyone’s safety,” I insisted.

“No. I think you’re mistaking our job with that of the police’s,” Aaniya said, “and, by the way, since when have you become so dramatic?”

“Ever since I got selected as the president of the drama club,” I said with a grin.

“But that’s beside the point. You tell me, would you be able to live with the guilt that you let an innocent child get kidnapped? Would you be able to handle that?” I tried to make her emotional.

“Okay, okay fine, Sara!” Aaniya replied, half amused, half annoyed by my insistence. “But hurry up, I need to get back home in half an hour or my mother will get worried. Your adventures always make us late. I promised her I wouldn’t be late now.”

So we set off in pursuit of the suspicious car. Luckily for us, it was going slowly or we wouldn’t have been able to catch up with it. It was a pleasant spring afternoon, and we walked under the cool shade of the huge chinar trees along the street, where a slight refreshing breeze blew. The sun shone through the thick foliage sometimes, and the leaves made dancing patterns on the path. The soothing rustle of the leaves and the breeze after a long hard day at school was enough to put me to sleep.

But I had to shake off my sleepy thoughts and focus on the task at hand, which was the kidnappers. So far, it seemed like the car was going to … the park?

“If they were kidnappers, why would they be going to a park?” Aaniya read my thoughts out aloud.

“Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. Maybe they’re taking him to the park because they have a secret hideout there?” I suggested, thinking of possible explanations.

As we reached the park, the car stopped right in front of the gate and the two men got out. I got closer to the car and tried to figure out a plan. Suddenly, I got an idea.

My plan was that Aaniya would distract the people who were kidnapping the boy and I would grab him and hide until we could hand him over to the authorities who could get him home safely. It seemed like a really stupid plan, but we had no choice. So, we did exactly as we had planned and the distraction worked!

I grabbed the child and ran as fast as my legs could carry me, without looking back even once.

“Hey! Stop! What are you doing? That’s my nephew! Stop right now!” I stopped in my tracks.

Nephew? What was this man talking about? I turned around.

The man stopped beside me and reached for the boy. He was panting from all that running and stood with a frown. The other man was just behind him and he was completely out of breath too.

As I stood there watching the angry men look at me like I was completely crazy, doubt crept into me and I started panicking. What if these men really were his uncles? How was I going to convince them that it wasn’t actually I who was doing the kidnapping? Oh great. But then again, I didn’t have any actual proof that they were related to the boy. But I took a deep breath and stood my ground.

“You can’t fool me! I saw you guys pick him up and put him in the car, and he was crying. I know you guys were kidnapping him so I will not believe your story. We followed your car here. We will scream and people will come and catch you,” I threaten the men, trying to sound braver than I was feeling.

They seemed flabbergasted. They looked at each other and smiled. Then one of them said, “Well, your story is not very convincing. But you girls don’t look like you are lying, and you two definitely don’t look like kidnappers, so I believe you.”

Then the other man said, “Now we’ll explain our part. The reason Hamza,” he pointed at the boy and continued, “was kicking and screaming was because we had told him that we were taking him to the hospital to get a tetanus shot. You see it is his birthday today and we were throwing him a surprise birthday party. We did not want him to know that we were taking him to his birthday party venue.” At this, he broke out laughing at his own bad joke.

“Oh! So that was what was happening,” I replied, slapping my forehead. “I’m so sorry for all the inconvenience we caused. Will you please forgive us?” I asked, feeling so embarrassed that I wished the earth would swallow me up.

“Yes, of course. Your intentions were good, so it’s okay. A word of advice however, don’t be so apprehensive about everything, you will never be able to live in peace. Also, you should consider a career in the police,” he said, laughing loudly.

As we were leaving the park, Aaniya looked at me with an annoyed expression and I knew what she was going to say. “I told you so,” she said. “You really shouldn’t watch all those thrillers.”

Published in Dawn, Young World, October 1st, 2022

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