Early morning the next day, some policemen stormed auntie Kate’s house, demanding her presence at the State Criminal Investigation Department. She couldn’t believe her eyes, and never expected them – she would have preplanned before their arrival. But nothing could be done; she asked them innocently;
‘Officers, please can I make a call?’
‘Madam we don’t have that time. We are required to come with you to the station as soon as possible’, one of them replied.
‘Okay, at least let me inform my friend that I’m being arrested – please’.
‘Madam, you have all the right to remain silent – as anything you say here henceforth will be used against you in the law court’, another officer commanded.
She knew that whenever a policeman recite their usual lines as these, nothing could be done to gain a chance to take even a pin. So, she remained silent and followed them to the police van. Stella went after them crying;
‘Please officer, leave my aunt. She didn’t do anything’
She kept crying and followed them to the van. One of the officers sensed she was the little girl everything centred on. He asked her;
‘What is your name and who are you?’
‘My name is Stella, and I’m her niece’, she pointed towards her aunt who was making sign language for her not to say anything to them. But she didn’t consider that – as she gave the policemen every information they needed. Although, she didn’t agree that her aunt was maltreating her. She knew that the woman would suffer in jail if they confirm from her that she was not taking good care of her.
On getting to the station, both auntie Kate and her niece understood that the reporter was one of the girl’s teachers. Her statement claimed that the girl’s aunt was committing child abuse – to the extent of threaten the girl with horrific words. Auntie Kate who denied the charges was mouth-shut when the lady presented to the officers an audio recorder she claimed to have hidden in Stella’s school bag. The device captured clearly the part where auntie Kate stated that she would kill the little girl if anyone come to know about what was going on between them.
Stella who found the audio set along with the book her school teacher lend her recalled the event, and how she had returned the book and the device without having knowledge of what the other was. The teacher told her that it was something else. Though she wanted to ask her aunt, but didn’t because they were not in a good terms. There, she became surprised to know that it was an audio recorder. She began;
‘But Madam, you didn’t tell me what it was’
‘Yes, I needn’t tell you, it’s not necessary since you never admitted that your aunt had been maltreating you’, the woman replied.
Emotional Stella began to cry for her aunt again. This time she forgot all she did to her, and poured her anger on the policemen and the school teacher. She wished the arrest didn’t occur in that she never wished her to be arrested, but to change from her ill manners. The policeman next to her understood what she was going through, and made it known to her that the best way to make auntie Kate change was to take her to the court, and judge her against child abuse. She was still crying, and never absorbed what was being said to her. That was not what she wanted to hear at the moment. Her friends in school had discussed how people were charged for one thing or the other, which resulted to their execution by hanging or another way as agreed by the law court or the constitution. This stroke her thoughts and kept reflecting in her mind. All that came to her was, her aunt was going to die after all said and done. So, she began to scream;
‘Please I don’t want anything to happen to my aunt. I don’t want her to die – I still love her, and she is the only one next to me as a mother. Please… please…’
The officers laughed at her, and understood she was battling with childish attitude. They began to discuss how funny children could be, and their ignorant minds. The first officer started;
‘Children are funny. I don’t know what’s wrong with this kid’
‘She’s a kid, as you can see. What do you expect her to do? – I mean her aunt is now arrested’, the second one joined.
‘But I thought she was supposed to be happy because this lady is wicked’, another stated.
‘You know, that’s what make them different. I have kids at home. No matter how hard you hurt them, they’ll forgive you the next minute’, the first explained.
‘Well, you’re correct. Maybe she thought her aunt is going to be killed, a sergeant joined.
They all laughed.
One of the officers went towards Stella and consoled her – letting her know that her aunt was not going to be killed. She felt sincerity written all over the officer’s face. And that was a relief to her. She managed to wipe the tears on her face, and proceeded with the man, who bought her some snacks and ice cream to cool off while waiting for uncle Martin or another to come take her home.
Few days later, Uncle Martin arrived at the station from his workplace. He was very surprised to hear the news for the second time – his sister was truly mean to the poor girl. That was the newest news in town. He couldn’t believe it when the officers presented to him the petition written against her by neighbours and the teacher from Stella’s school. He began to think that the said sister of his might not truly be the one he had been seeing. So, he had to request to meet with her to confirm the rumor. On seeing her, his lips suddenly separated from each other – that any innocent fly could make its way into the ignorant mouth. Tears rolled down his cheeks for the first time. He began;
‘My dear, this is unbelievable. How could you? You fooled me when I came to your house. Why don’t you tell me that you are fed up with harbouring that girl – who you call your niece? But let me ask you again; how on earth could one be tired of taking care of her own blood sister’s child – whose parents are no more? Not that you don’t have the necessary resources to care for her. I promised that I would contribute to make sure she grow into a full lady. Why this now? You never told me… everything they stated here against you is heartbreaking, and I can’t imagine you do all these to her. You can kill, you know?
His words shattered the inner soul of the lady, and pierced through her bone marrow. It was as though she would repent instantly from being a white toilet – which was always clean when people visited, and became dirty as soon as they back off. She cried out in such a way that anyone around could hear her voice. The tears of her niece while she was pleading for her release also touched her heart. She repented, though it was hard to say. She realized that the poor girl was as innocent as a lamb, and wasn’t what she thought of her – seeing her as a carbon copy of her mother, one of heartlessness. Her realization dawned on her that the abused girl wouldn’t treat her the way her sister did. She pleaded;
‘My brother, it was the work of the devil. I didn’t mean to hurt her. I thought she was going to be like her mother – you know how she treated me when we were in school. She scolded me, cheated me and even spoilt my good plans. So, I thought Stella was going to inherit all that, and the devil made me to take revenge on her. I’m really very sorry’.
She was crying while speaking – her tears soaked her cloth, as though a bucket of water was poured on her. Uncle Martin who was a psychologist forgave her and saw the reflection of repentance, sincerity and revival written all over her face. He told her that she must fully repent and turn from her bad ways, and also made her know that he would bail her without going to court.
Uncle Martin spoke with the Police Authority, pleading to bail his sister. But they told him that it was not going to be possible so soon – as they were meant to follow due procedures and treat the matter in accordance to the law of criminal offences. Though, he never gave up. He continued negotiating with them, and made them know that she has repented of all that, after spending three and half days in the cell – her repentance was written over her. One of the officers bore witness to that. He further told his colleagues that through his interrogation with her, he discovered what led her into what she did, and how she realized how much the kid loved her. This time, things began to make sense to uncle Martin, who wore a bright face expecting a positive feedback. After much yes and no, the Inspector General requested him to come next week to bail his sister and clear all the court charges with the Magistrate, and other law officials. He was very happy that moment, he shook hands with them and went his ways.
Back home, he confirmed how tender-hearted, and loving Stella was. He understood that the little girl had nothing against her aunt. That was really great to him. He expected her to say bad things against her, but the opposite was the case. Though, she wasn’t happy regarding the ways her aunt maltreated her – but she still forgave her. When she told her uncle that she never wanted to lose her, he smiled as never before. Naturally, uncle Martin was not good at smiling. It was rare to see him smile. But the little girl’s reactions towards the issue on ground made him a complete human. He promised her instantly that he and her aunt would see through her education to any height she would wish to attain. She wasn’t that overwhelmed because that was what was said to her earlier, but failed along the way. She would be fully happy when the said was put to practice and completed.
Auntie Kate was released. Her attitude towards people changed, and no one needed to ask another to confirm that. Her appearance and manners of approach told the story itself. People began to see another auntie Kate in her, and that was what they had wished long ago. She knelt before the poor girl and asked for forgiveness, which was granted without hesitation. They called for a reconciliation party, where she stated;
‘My recent experience is gain to know how life works and an example to those who live as I did. The cobwebs in my eyes were wiped when I heard this my niece here cried for my release. Everyone isn’t like that. My confession is, I got my soul possessed by the devil to take revenge on her in regards to what her mother my elder sister did to me – she maltreated me. But now, all those are bygone, and will always be. Let’s watch what we do, and the prize that follows it. Let’s not pay evil with evil, yet in pretence to be good. Let not our heart be like the toilet seen as colourful as white – that was what I was. But now I thank God for making me a repented soul. God bless everyone who helped me come out of my previous self, and to you my little niece, I promise to take good care of you without looking back. I love you my baby – STELLA’
An applause followed after she made the speech.