Mehdi used to drive the amphibious because it was an efficient way to move about over water and on land without hopping from boats to cars. He drove from Mookai Hotel to Villingili Ferry ramp to climb down into water and out of Malé towards north to reach Hulumalé, climbed ashore and arrived at Faruman Riyal Company. He parked his car in the basement. He usually climbed to his private office on the sixth floor in the executive’s elevator but it was out of order. So he took the staircase to the ground level to reach the public elevator.
He came across two ladies loitering in the hall. Mehdi often felt nervous with the opposite sex. The fair lady smiled at him with big brown eyes and the thin tall girl stared right in his eyes. From the looks it seemed they knew him and of course a lot a people knew him. It was the flirting beauty of the Maldivian woman that made him more nervous. And her smile was filling her mouth with water. The other girl blushed coldly, strange to a stranger.
He paused to greet the ladies referring to them in polite speech.
The ostentatious woman offered her hand and introduced, “I’m Hythem’s mother. Here’s my daughter, Ibthisham Gir.”
Mehdi stared into her eyes in utter disbelief for she wore a Hindu dot on her forehead. Not a single girl native to his country wore a red coloured beauty spot even in vogue. “Oh! I am Mehdi,” he extended his arm to shake her hand but the girl went down on her knees to pat his toes in prostration. She refused to take his hand but returned a courteous gesture in the Hindu custom, palms together.
“Namaste!” greeted Ibthisham, in complete, red salwar dress.
Mehdi imitated an obeisance ineptly and asked out of curiosity, “Why did you do that for?”
“I am Hindu…Brahmin,” she replied in English with a serious gaze.
He turned to her mother for an explanation and she burst in laughter to observe his awe, “She’s Indian,” obviously a Maldivian mother.
“I don’t remember your name?” He never came across her name in the first place.
“Layla Thoif.” She was around forty.
“Oh yes, Layla. Did you receive my letter?”
“I did. And thank you for your generous offer.”
“I owe my condolences once again. Now that I come to know Hythem’s beautiful family, I regret, I did not convene any of them who flew to Brazil. Sorry about that. Please join me upstairs...this way!” Mehdi directed them to the elevator. “Have you got any news?”
“We are expecting the body return today,” Layla told him.
“It has been a difficult month. This case is not an easy one. It’s terrible. I guess that’s the reason it took so long. I am told they found no clue about who did that to him. Tell me how far have you gone with Southern Cross?”
Ibthisham replied, “We are expecting Dr Rehene Greene of Southern Cross here today. We are called for a meeting arranged by Mr Zaffir. The body will be taken to Malé for examination but Dr Greene will make final decision to carry on autopsy. Southern Cross has taken rights over the body parts on our behalf. A Frenchman remitted a sum for the kidney transplant.” She spoke English, still not fluent in the local tongue.
“This way please!” Mehdi guided them into the corridor. “I have not heard that. We still don’t know how the body parts ended up in Switzerland.”
“No. But the police are working on this, I mean, both Swiss and Brazilian. From our side, we hold a claim over the body parts because the DNA proves it.”
“I want to meet Dr Greene. I have never met her before. I want to know how she managed to find this DNA match in another world. It all sounds fascinating. This is my office,” He ushered the ladies in. A staff girl in an extremely tiny, white uniform followed.
Mehdi’s office suite was furnished in deep dark brown. Everything around was so dark; the sofas and a huge desk with three flat screens for the latest Samsung version of computer system through which a credit card transaction could be done from a cellular phone placed on a bar counter. Other artefacts on the table were gold-plated. The carpet was brown. Tiny spotlights from the corners spread orange glows and hidden lights in the ceiling boarders lit the room wide open. The walls fitted with tall pedestal cabinets and curtains in deep brown. More brown than wood but nothing was wooden. Behind his large desk, the company logo hanging on the wall in blue and white; the sail and jib mast. Air-conditioning turned awfully cold and awful lot of waste.
Mehdi ordered, “Get us some drinks. Call Zaffir and tell him I want to meet Dr Greene.”
“Yes sir,” the staff girl appeared like a stripped nurse making matters worse.
“Hythem’s family is stealing my interest. Where do you wish to bury him?”
Layla replied, “In Vilufushi.”
“I’ll not be able to attend the funeral but I will join today on his body arrival. Tell me about you. Where is his father?”
“He came with us. We are staying in Hulumalé. I wanted to bring Ibthisham here because she can better handle this matter. He will join us on the body arrival.”
“Who’s paying your stay?”
“Well,” he switched to Ibthisham, “What’s your story? Are you born and raised in India?”
“Yes sir,” Ibthisham replied.
“Are you married?”
“What do you do?”
“I am a biotech analyst with a BA working for a pharmaceutical firm in Gujarat. I’m looking for a job in Maldives,” she added.
“I have hundreds of Indians working for me in the ethanol farm and in Kela, Faruman Products, but I don’t know how you’ll fit in. These firms are not clinical laboratories. They are only business outlets. Why do you want a job here?”
“Pay is good.”
“I see! I can fix you a job somewhere but you’ll have to choose. Kela Energy Project, the fuel farms, the flights or the cars, there is a hotel chain coming up in Addu...Zaffir complains about shortage of staff. I’ve told him not to bring this issue to my meetings.”
Sima opened the door, “Dr Greene is here.”
“Send them in.”
Another stripped girl entered with drinks. In second thoughts Ibthisham decided not to seek job in his firm. The girl placed the drinks on the coffee tables reaching down low.
“Here’s my card,” Mehdi offered.
Ibthisham hesitated to reach for it behind the serving girl’s back but she did simultaneously as the girl straightened on fully flushed legs.
“Call me anytime if you look for job.”
“Thanks,” Ibthisham replied nervously.
“Layla, how did you come to know Dr Greene?”
“She was working formerly at ADK,” Layla said.
An intercom buzzed. The door swung open and Sima ushered in a small crowd. Mehdi rose to his feet. Zaffir introduced, “Here’s Dr Rehene Greene and this is her assistant, Miss Fezlynn. Mr Mehdi.”
“Dr Greene!” Mehdi greeted, “But I thought you were Swiss. How come nobody told me she’s Maldivian? I’m caught in surprise for a second time.”
Rehene Greene laughed, shook hands, “I’m also Swiss and Christian...converted.”
“Don’t tell me! I’m shocked! Not a third time!”
“I’m married to Dr Herbert Greene.”
“Please sit down. Zaffir, you did not tell me all this. I just met Hythem’s family. You sure met them, Dr Greene. I’m impressed.”
“Excuse me! What do you like to drink?” asked the staff.
“I need a smoke right away. May I?” Dr Greene asked, “Bring coffee and an ashtray.” She searched for one. “Don’t you smoke?”
“No, I don’t but carry on,” Mehdi gestured, “no harm...”
“I have known Layla for quite some time,” She pulled out a pack and lit a cigarette. She wore a pair of denim and a yellow top. She was tall and fair, around thirty. Fezlynn wore an orange frock, slim and toned, in her mid twenties. “Mr Mehdi, I’m interested in your Blue Waters. What is it all about, unification with India?”
“Sima, bring some copies and brochures, a set each. I think Blue Waters is proving what I anticipated for all these years.”
“I have a copy with me but no time to read.” A staff girl placed an ashtray on the table. “Let me invite you for dinner. I want to learn a little bit more about it. Is it possible tonight?”
“Fez, book Club Med Kani with speed transfers, a quiet setting and I want Layla’s family to join us.”
“When is the body arriving?” Mehdi asked.
“Fourteen hundred hours by SA Express,” Zaffir replied, “We do not have much time, four hours left. We meet with immigration officers, police and public health officials in less than an hour. Before that I have to go through insurance with the victim’s family. We meet at the conference hall.”
“Call me in the afternoon to fetch the body.”
“In six months I’ll be based in Fua Mulak,” said Rehene Greene.
“Oh yes, I saw the construction underway. It’s a big hospital. Why didn’t you set Addu?”
“I tried,” she released smoke, “I wanted to keep a seaplane ambulance to reach the Suvadives. You can’t have it in Fua Mulak waters. Anyway, it’s a good piece of land. My card...”
“Thanks. What about these body parts?”
“They are in Southern Cross Hospital in Geneva and donated,” pointed her fingers at Layla with the stick in her fingertips, “she did. One kidney is transplanted in a patient. He is a son of a French minister. Surprisingly, those body parts are in excellent condition.”
“Zaffir, I want to arrange their stay in full and Hythem’s body until burial. Take care and don’t forget to push Estado Mello to get to the bottom.”
“Thank you,” Layla appreciated.
“There are underground networks of organised crime. Probably professionals like doctors are engaged in this, or say, collaborating with the criminals in Latin America,” Rehene Greene told them. “I’m hoping Swiss Police may be able to find out something soon. We keep touch with them and continue to do until we get to the bottom. They are talking to the vendor. The problem is, some of these parts are dealt legally through authorised dealers but somewhere some brokers are selling several body parts to many supply sources under one name of a donor or a dying victim. Hythem’s body parts came in a packing in the name of a Felipe Zacateros and now we know the same thing was sold in the UK and Canada. He could only have one group of body parts, the rest are illicitly dealt. The brokers get hold of Death Certificates and change things to do deal over and over to various sources but they pack body parts of murdered victims. Once we get a DNA, Interpol supply to all police stations around the world. We can easily find a match in places like Europe or Canada but we can hardly trace anything in Latin America, China or Asia, East Europe and many parts of the world. It’s difficult but the possibilities are there. We just have to wait for the wrongful dealers to make a mistake.” She released a spurt of smoke. “And you know! This original source of Felipe Zacateros came from Mexico, not Brazil.”
“Hmm! Quite interesting! What’s the word from the others? How many are there?” Mehdi asked.
Zaffir replied, “Eleven remaining, doing various courses, they’ve gone through police enquiries and gave statements, not a clue. It’s like ‘at the wrong place in the wrong time’ kind of thing.”
“Well, Zaffir, you can have your meeting. Keep me informed.”
Mehdi drove to the airport to receive the sealed casket that March afternoon. They were not able to see his face until after three days. When they did it was very briefly. Public Health issued no permission to carry out autopsy because the body deteriorated. Hythem’s body was wrapped and sent for burial in Vilufushi.
That night Mehdi had a conversation with Dr Rehene Greene but they never reached to a conclusion over Blue Waters. She declined to the idea of unification with India no matter how much she admired his broad ideology of sharing cultures, races, religions, people and societies. She was keen to seek Mehdi’s aid since he was a magnate attached to President Capricorn.
Ibthisham’s family joined as members of MUM after few days when Ibthisham obtained a good job in the Equator Zone, not as a biotech anything but a novice in the Project Section to coordinate research work and supplies at the Faruman Riyal Company’s branch office in Hithadu. Project Manager, Nalin Mendis, a Sri Lankan, was instructed to recruit the girl in fieldwork in order to achieve a better position in the company.
On the whole every department was entitled to lot of work. Most of the jobs were filled by Indians. For the most part Maldivian were lazy or tiring to do dirty work or not trained for the right job in chemicals, civil engineering, building construction and hardly labour. Faruman Riyal Company was a management foundation for two big companies; Suresh Brothers & Co and Estado Mello. All the assets belonged to them.
It wasn’t an easy task to run these firms so he relied heavily on his Financial Advisor, Indian managers, Brazilian managers and hardworking employees. At this point of huge investments he risked downfalls too, poor sales in Hybrid cars, dump the illegal trade of medical products to a meltdown and shortages in the ethanol farm. Replacements would be made. Problems would be solved. Mehdi’s business was sound and good with his flights in operation and hotels coming up. He was an ambitious man.