17.3 In Flagrante Delicto
The moon shone bright. Mariam Mala went to Feydu to pack her clothes and stuff, including a black and white album. Then they brought her to Maradu where they prepared a doni for her to leave immediately. It was past midnight and the boat crew carried food for supper to have it on the way to Huludu.
Habib and Shakir wished farewell and paused to watch that beautiful little doni leave harbour in the moonbeam reflected on the inlet sea at 13:30 hours.
An hour later, they witnessed a flash in the middle of the sea. Even in the moonlight, they could see no boat out there. It was a small craft like a dinghy.
The British were in the water looking for a boat going out. They watched on night-vision binoculars and even figured the figure of Mariam Mala climbing the boat in Maradu harbour. The dinghy was then relaying a signal to another party and pointing the flash at the boat to go after.
Five crews and Mala on the doni heard a motorboat approaching. They could see then the big Target Towing Launch 1374. Briskly, those bright searchlights lit spot on the little craft. Mala knew they were coming for her. She wrapped a towel around her shoulder and sat down not to look.
The 63 feet Pinnace cut off its engine and threw a line to the doni. A crew grabbed it and moored it alongside the vessel. Lieutenant Marvin Edward climbed down followed by two other marines.
“Deeni,” he patted, “we need you. Come with me.”
Mala shook her head, “No, I don’t want to go.”
“Come on! There is nothing to worry,” he insisted placing her arm around his neck, “It’s alright.”
“No,” she began to cry, “I want to see my dad.”
“We are going to your dad’s island.”
She showed some resistance but, in the end, she was transferred to the boat with her luggage and sped away. She was sedated soon after leaving the doni. Mala could remember nothing in between.
Five crews paddled back to Maradu. It was close to dawn when they arrived and they could not find Habib or Shakir. They climbed ashore without even wrapping the sail. Habib saw the empty doni left in the moor at sunrise. It gave him a bleak sombre look.
Habib asked the boat captain, “Did they force her?”
Fatah replied, “She did resist a little but she had no choice. They ushered her, cannot say they forced.”
“What’s going to happen to her?” asked Farata.
Habib shook his head, “I don’t know. I must go and tell her father.”
Shakir speculated, “They are watching us closely on binoculars.”
“It is going to be extremely difficult to get off their skin. They’re the English,” uttered Habib, “Think we can cheat them!”
“I can row a boat into Huludu,” Farata suggested, “We can row through Gan lagoon and cross two sea channels not too wide. We go fishing. They do not bother.”
“If you can beach us on Hérethére, we can walk a few miles to Huludu. Shall we!”
“Let’s do it!” agreed Shakir.
Morning broke. The RAF police arrived at Etherevari with Adaran. The Duck entered the stream and reached the bank of haliwal. They found a miniature photography lab and some black and white photographs. Among those unprocessed films was a cartridge that Habib failed to notice. It was actually removed from the 35 mm Leica. It contained images of the tube houses. They found some advanced gadgets such like listening devices, stocks of brand-new print paper and film cartridges.
They understood this scheme of eavesdropping was far better planned. They looked for the transmitter and quickly figured seeing the Styrofoam. Police crossed the brook. There Sergeant Henry Moon came across a blue-eyed girl. And she was pointing to a tree to show an antenna.
Outside Etherevari that day, there were a lot of RAF personnel. Nobody was allowed to get any closer to this area. Naurus guided the sergeant into the cabin and picked a key from underneath a table. She opened the room.
They found a powerful Collins KMW-1 transceiver setup complete with speakers and console.
Police arrived at Askeni in Maradu and searched Habib’s lodge. They found boxes of ammunition.
Police checked Finiveli in Feydu as well.
Adaran sent a notice to all offices that day directing to send away all representatives and officers from Malé – no longer welcome. Besides, they must declare everything carried in their luggage or with them. Footloose Habib and Savari Shakir were wanted assailants to be detained.
Habib and Shakir grabbed their luggage and two firearms and climbed down Dooran beach. Fatah and Farata poled a small fishing boat in the shoal. These boats rolled outside the reef to catch fish and there were plenty of little boats like this.
Habib wore a gunny sack on his head and picked the pole to give it a shove. The boat moved at snail’s pace near Feydu beach – one foot at a time.
By noon they crossed Gan lagoon, from the open side facing south where days ago an Italian freighter was salvaged from the reef, and under the noses of the English to enter Villingili Channel. In five metre depth, they could see the shadow of the boat cast on the seabed. Habib and Shakir remained hidden under a tarp. They pulled a lug sail and barely floated or drifted across the deep blue canal. By three in the afternoon, they prowled within inches of water along an infinite white sandy beach of Hérethére. Farata didn’t want to set them ashore to walk three miles on soft sand with luggage on their back. He still got a lot of nerve to pull.
By sundown they arrived at Silèha, Ali Takhan’s place, to tell him what happened to his daughter.
Ali Takhan thought, “If you had waited until twilight to send her out with the fishing boats, she could have made it.
“At daybreak, I’ll send you to Vérande Beach on the east coast. There’s a little hut you can stay. Take two bicycles and come here for breakfast. What is your plan now?”
Habib replied, “I want to send Shakir to Malé as soon as possible. I’ll stay and see what happens to Nurse Deeni.”