Based on real events
Does ominous hang in the air? The poets say yes, but to me, it was the heaviness of a tropical summer. A hot day thick with the smell of mangoes, banana and dust from the road. Tiredness from the heat of the market and the weight of worrying about feeding us, your recovery and surviving the hatred of difference.
Ominous wasn’t there until I saw the note on the table. I stumbled in past the barking of the dogs, surprised you didn’t meet me to help with our bounty. I saw the paper on the table where there had never been one before. A paper whose words were jumbled; they made no sense at all to my fatigued brain, so I stared at them until they marched into order.
How Do You Deal With a Ransom Note?
No Pulis? Why would I call the police? Oh, it dawned on me a note for ransom. That’s why you were gone. They, whoever they were, wanted everything, to leave me destitute. But for you, for your safety, it was a price I would pay a thousand times.
I searched every inch of our farm. Our dream now descended into a nightmare. I knew this was fruitless, but I had to look in the hope I had misunderstood that you were cutting a banana tree or eating an orange in the Kubo. But I was met with the silence of the wind in the long grass and not a soul stirring anywhere. I have never felt more alone.
I spoke to neighbours who stared, not understanding my odd accent. I called your children. I sat with our dogs, who understood my pain and confusion as they lay their heads in my lap. We all stared into the distance, looking for a sign of what to do next.
No Sleep For the Betrayed
A night of no sleep, convinced the light in the distance was a kidnapper creeping forward across our rice field, coming with instructions to pay for your safety. Daylight was a relief, but the horror remained. I checked the fence maybe a note telling me how to pay was pinned there. Nothing.
I checked the road. It was empty. Like me inside, I didn’t know what to do. Your youngest son arrived to help me, he said. A first for him, someone who was openly disdainful and hateful simply because of my existence. But in crisis, we must pull together, right? Isn’t that what families do?
Innocent Children Grow Into Evil Adults
Hours later, he tells me he spoke to you. They were beating you. Hurting your already hurting self. I would be killed and our house torched if the money wasn’t given. He was smug, but I didn’t notice until later. When pieces fall into place, it takes time and thought.
When your brain was as scrambled as mine, I was slow to understand that this was a terrorist masquerading as a young man who stood in my home and threatened me with harm in the nicest possible way.
We reported the kidnapping to local folks, those charged with the welfare of all that lived there. The one to who I spoke was earnest and cared, but the conceited behind laughed in a language I could barely understand. As tears slid down my face, they told me I should pay as I was wealthy because of my foreignness.
A Local Joke Terror Is Okay if You Are Not a Local
More laughing from the authorities after the fourth day. They showed me the room you had rented in town. It had to be you. It was you; I could see sheets, cups, and plates from our house as I peeked through a hole in the door. I was told you rented it for another son, the one with a baby that I had only just heard of.
I broke. This was you? Causing this pain? You, who I loved with all my heart? You, who I had nursed to health after near death? You? Betraying me? Why a charade, a pretense, an extortion if you wanted to leave the door was always open.
There was no sympathy from the man of police who was with me at this discovery. A lover’s tiff, he said, I should have given you more money, let your thieving offspring live with us no matter how abusive.
Your betrayal, IT WAS MY FAULT.
What to do When Nobody Believes
I drove around town, searching for your bike, for answers, for my sanity that had fled when I reached overload. A text demanding money for your safety lit up my phone. Confused, I appeared again at the station of police and finally was believed that this was not a tiff but something far more sinister.
From there, a blur. A decision to trap. Police from the capital, experts in the field. Protection at home and revelations of character. I couldn’t breathe; I alternated anger and devastation, sometimes blurring between the two, and I was thankful for the professionals who kept me focused and safe.
We prepared to drop the cash – the faked notes and newspaper. Waiting, waiting, WAITING, aching for it to end, to be over, for some answers to be given.
I called the terrorist. I told him I was abandoned as a joke by the police in town with the money. I told him I wanted his mom home. I told him I just wanted to give the ransom to the kidnappers. I told him I was alone and scared as the police sat beside me.
Facing the Betrayal
A moment, a heartbeat passed, and a location was given for the exchange. With my heart in my throat, I prepared to drive there, not knowing what to expect but with assurances of support and safety.
They had caught you before we left the station of police, a car arrived with you and him, the farm hand from hell. You ran to me and held me. I asked what had happened, and you told me lies. I called your bluff. An impasse with a problem that they wanted to solve with 25 years in a cage for you both.
You told me depression was the cause. After your accident, you had not felt happy. The pressure from the four for money I could no longer give had pushed you over the edge. Scared the fruit of your loins would abandon and hate you, going along with their plan was the only choice you felt you had.
Understanding Was the ONLY Option for Me
I looked and saw a different you. Compassion welled up. All your adult life, you had felt invincible. The accident had shown that you, too, could be vulnerable and need help. I saw the terror in you, and all I could do was love you more.
You have given me so much. Support when I was ill, an arm when I couldn’t walk, loved me when we were hated for being together because, for you, that was the right thing to do. We had laughed and loved and cried. This was your mistake, and I could not abandon you. Love is easy when it’s wonderful. When it’s ugly, tough, and hurtful, that is when I knew I needed to love you more.
It was six weeks before you came home. Six weeks alone on the farm, visiting you daily in detention with food and clothes. Six weeks of rebuilding our shattered hearts, and shattered lives. Six weeks of missing what we had before and knowing it was gone forever.
And that was just the beginning.