Chapter: Trio

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     Iman and Khadijah were escorted through a frigid alley into a shady building. There were armed men at every point of entry and exit of the building, some even standing guard at windows. Khadijah wrapped her arms around her mother's neck in a tight embrace as another armed member of the police approached them. He wordlessly nodded his head and took over the escort, leading them to a small mirrored room. They were told to sit at a stainless steel table with only a cup and a water jug perched on top of it. Khadijah had remained expressionless the entire journey and simply clung to her mother. Iman kissed the top of the little girl's head in reassurance, but fought with her own emotions. Her hands wanted to tremble. 

     They were forced to wait, a power play on the law enforcement's side. She knew the dance well. How many teenagers had she accompanied as a guardian to this very situation? They always made everyone wait. 

     "Mama," Khadijah whispered and looked at her mother. 

     "Yes, Shehzadi?" Iman whispered in reply and brushed back the textured fringe that lined Khadijah's forehead. 

     "Will Baba be okay?" Khadijah asked.

      How could she tell the little girl that she had no idea? How could she explain to the little girl that she wasn't even sure if they would be okay? Her husband, the man she had carefully studied before proposing to, was being labeled a terrorist mere hours after a wide scale terrorist attack. She had been carted off with her daughter to an unknown location to be interrogated. How would any of this be okay? 

     "Have faith in Allah, Shehzadi," Iman whispered and realized that she was reassuring herself more than the little girl in her arms. 

     After deeming their wait adequate, a finely suited man walked in with a look of contempt on his face. He glanced at Khadijah and then made eye contact with Iman before having a seat across from them. 

     "Would you like some water?" The man asked before pouring himself a cup. Iman said nothing while the man downed the glass and loosened his tie. He looked up and tapped his hand on the table before clearing his throat. Iman knew that the man was looking for a sign of stress, a sign of weakness. She remained expressionless as she returned the man's stare. 

     "You know why you're here, Mrs. Khan," the man finally spoke up. 

     "No. I know little of what has happened. I know that my daughter is traumatized and I know that my husband is missing, but no, I do not know why I am here," Iman spoke plainly. 

     "Your husband murdered more than 5000 people today, Mrs. Khan. How can you remain so calm after knowing that? He brought his daughter and subjected her to terrorism at such an early age. Tell me, Mrs. Khan, did you know Dawood Khan would do this? How could you not? You're his wife," the man began while studying the young mother through narrowed eyes. Khadijah looked up and turned to face the suited man. Her brows were furrowed showing the young child's fury. 

"Baba didn't hurt anyone. I saw everything," the little girl whispered in an almost mature voice. 

"I know what you're doing, I just can't understand why. Why are you doing this to him? Why are you setting him up to take the fall?" Iman asked while holding Khadijah's hand in her own.

     "We have witnesses. We have footage of Dawood shooting men. He IS a terrorist, make no mistake about that. Now, tell us what we want to know or you WILL regret it," the man growled viciously. Iman could see nothing but hatred in the man's eyes as he spoke about her husband. This was something personal, she realized. This man had a personal vendetta against her husband. 

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