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Paper Boat

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Alarm started to ring loud enough to wake up a seventy year oldman out of his bed. He rose up and sat on his bed stretching his hands for his spectacles. He found them quickly and put them on his eyes. He stopped the alarm and walked into the restroom to get ready. He came out, dressed well and took a bundle of papers and a big glue bottle in his hands. He stepped out of his house, locked it and started to ride his bicycle. He is not young enough to ride it at top speed but he is fit enough to maintain a good speed. He stopped in a street where there are plenty of trees on both sides of the road near a small river. He took a few sheets from the bundle and the glue bottle with him and went straight to the tree, painted the back of a sheet with glue and pasted it on the tree and moved on to the next one. His sheet reads as,

MISSING 

Name : Harry Johansson

Age : 11 years

Description : Missing since 22nd may 2018

If you found the boy, contact Ben Johansson +06 37623184 

Every sheet contains a picture of the kid as well. There are roughly around thirty trees in that street. He patiently stuck his sheet to every tree with utmost care making sure it won’t peel off to the wind. He looked tired, hopeless, and desperate. When he reached back to his bicycle, he saw a kid making paper boats with his sheets and leaving them to flow in the river. Ben rushed to the kid shouting, ‘Hey!’ He can see that there are no less than twenty paper boats already in the river. Ben reached the kid and snatched his sheets back into his hands saying, ‘What do you think you are doing?’

‘I am trying to find this guy.’ The kid said pointing to the sheet in Ben’s hand.

‘Why? And how exactly are you trying?’

‘I saw you trying hard to stick all these sheets to the trees. I thought if we left them on the river, the flow would travel through half of the city and in case someone opens up the paper boat, they can help you find the boy.’ Ben looked ahead of the river where the boats went by and he saw most of them were already drowned and the others are on the edge of collapse, unable to handle the tremblence. The kid looked at them too and he said, ‘Don’t blame the idea. It’s the quality of the sheets that’s lacking.’ rubbing back of his head with his hand while trying to make it reasonable. Ben let out a sigh and turned back towards his bicycle. Kid from the back shouted, ‘Uncle Ben?’ Ben turned back with a bit of a question mark on his face and said, ‘How do you know my name?’ 

‘I saw it on the sheet and guessed it’s you. I guessed it right! Huhuhu’ The kid said while punching his wrist into the air. He has a heavy travel backpack on his side and typically looked like someone travelling. Ben let out a sigh and said, ‘Look kid, I am not in a funny mood. So, stop messing with me.’ and started to walk back. Kid picked his backpack and started following Ben saying, ‘Wait.. wait.. Uncle Ben?’ Ben pretended to be heard nothing and reached his bicycle. The kid quickly reached there and said, ‘Uncle Ben, I can help you find Harry.’

‘That’s so nice of you kid. But I don’t want to trouble you and your family.’

‘I don’t have a family. I’ll just travel and make my living.’

Ben was startled to hear that from a not more than ten year old kid. He is even more shocked to see that the kid is having a broad smile on his face with an adorable expression whilst saying he has no family. He is a strong kid. Ben then asked the kid, ‘Where do you stay?’

‘Till now I must’ve slept at every place possibly a human can. Like yesterday, I slept at a store front.’ Ben has never seen a kid strong as this one. He must’ve gone through a lot. He then said, ‘You can stay with me as long as you want.’

‘No No, I can’t stay here for long. I have many places to visit in my list. Let us make a deal, I’ll help you find your boy and you’ll give me stay and food for it. Okay?’ Ben laughed out loud and said, ‘A very funny kid you are. Okay I agree.’ They started to move to the next street and the kid started to jump around saying, ‘How about making paper airplanes with our sheets and give them a fly? they’ll reach every part of the city right?’

‘They won’t fly as long as you think kid.’

Kid helped Ben to stick as many sheets as possible within that area. They sat down at a juice shop and ordered a couple of thick shakes. The kid can’t keep himself quiet. He took his time talking something random and finally asked Ben, ‘Uncle Ben, who is that boy in the sheets and how is he missing?’

‘He is my grandson. Harry Johansson. Last week was his birthday when he went out for a picnic with his fath..’ Ben was cut down by the kid asking him, ‘When was his birthday? Is it the 22nd may? The day he went missing?’ 

‘Yes’

‘That’s my birthday as well. Don’t you think I am destined to help you find Harry?’ Ben gave a faint smile on his face admiring how talkative and proactive the kid is. ‘Please Uncle Ben, sorry for interrupting, continue.’

‘They met with an accident. When reported to the police, they found Harry’s father and mother died and Harry missing.’

‘Police are working on Harry right?’

‘They are. But how can we sit idle when a 11 year old kid is all alone in this world and lost?’

‘Can I have another thickshake? It’s really yummy!’ Ben smiled again and ordered another thickshake for the kid. He then asked, ‘How old are you kid?’

‘Same as your grandson. So how are you planning to find Harry?’

‘Police are already working and I am going to stick as many sheets as possible at all popular places.’

‘Have you posted them on facebook and other platforms?’

‘I don’t use them.’

‘But people are looking into their mobile more than the real world. I’ll post it.’ The kid then took the picture of the sheet with his mobile and started to post it. Ben then asked, ‘Do you know how to use that mobile?’

‘What are you talking Uncle Ben? I have 10k followers on Instagram and Facebook. Let’s take a selfie.’ He then came to the side where Ben is sitting and took a selfie with him. He looked at Ben’s glass where half of it was still left. He then asked, ‘Are you going to drink it or not? If so, do it quickly or else I might do it for you.’ Ben laughed and handed over the glass to him. The kid quickly took the glass saying, ‘I know, I have to help you with this.’ They paid their bill and started to walk down the street heading to a square next to them. Ben is walking ahead of the kid along with his bicycle. They just passed by a van in halt. The kid quickly asked Ben, ‘Do you think someone kidnapped Harry?’ Ben quickly responded, ‘I don’t think so, he must’ve lost in the nearby forest. Cause why would someone kidnaps? For money right? I didn’t receive any such calls. If someone kidnaps Harry they must ask for money. Unless they wanted to sell him. Child trafficking! Oh my god!’ He quickly realised how dangerous it would be if that’s the case and looked back at the kid. Kid’s not following him. He was almost snatched into the van by someone inside when he looked back. That’s the same van by which they passed by.  Ben quickly shouted at them, ‘Hey!’ But by then, they quickly rode away with the kid and all that left on the road was his mobile and backpack. Ben lost grip of his bicycle while he tried to chase the van. He gathered all his energy and ran after it shouting, ‘Stop them.’ But the van is too fast for an old man. Ben ran beyond his limits and lost his consciousness. He collapsed on the footpath and all he could see amidst the crowd was the van running away with the kid in a blur.

Ben woke up in a hospital. Nurse quickly helped him to rest his back and sit on the bed. Ben opened his mouth trying to say, ‘They… they kidnapped the kid and Harry. They are child traffickers.’ Nurse tried to pacify him saying, ‘Yes sir. Police ran after the van and missed them with a slight margin. Now this is a national issue with over 20 children missing.’ Ben lost his senses hearing that what he feared is the truth. Nurse noticed the fear in Ben’s face. She kept her hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Don’t worry sir. Police are handling this with utmost priority. You’ll find Harry soon.’

‘We have to find the kid as well.’

‘Do you know that kid?’

‘I just met him today.’

‘Wait a minute.’ Saying that, the nurse left the room and came back after a couple of minutes with a travel bag and a mobile phone. ‘These belong to the kid I guess.’

‘Yes they are.’

‘Police have unlocked his phone for his picture.’ Saying that, she kept his mobile and bag beside the bed and left the room. Ben tried to open the phone but realised that the battery was dead. He asked the nurse to charge it up. She plugged the charger beside the bed and connected it to the mobile. Ben lost in his thoughts thinking about Harry and the kid. He blamed himself for not taking care of the kid. He regretted that he should’ve walked behind the kid making sure he is safe. He gritted his teeth in anger. Meanwhile he looked at the kid’s bag and wanted to know what’s inside, cause he never mentioned his family or whatsoever. He opened the bag and found a couple of t-shirts and trousers similar to the ones he was wearing. He found a map where he marked several points on it and few of them were crossed. Ben thought that, ‘if what he had crossed are the places he visited, then he visited more places than I do’. He found a picture inside a pocket in the bag. This is the kid’s family. It looked like it was taken at some vacation where the kid was on top of his dad beside his mother. They looked beautiful. A bubble of sadness burst inside of him realising that the kid is now all alone without his parents. He flipped the photo and found something handwritten on it. It reads, ‘Travel boy. Travelling is what makes you alive. Happy Birthday. From your dad.’ Ben’s eyes went wet and tears rolled down his cheeks. ‘The kid surely has gone through more than I imagined. I wonder how Harry would face this if I weren’t here.’ By then the phone charged up. Ben unplugged the charger and powered it up. Straight away after booting up he saw the selfie they took on the screen. He then realised that it is the wallpaper. Ben decided not to sit idle hoping that the police would find the children. He wasn’t idle when one grandson was missing, how can he be idle when two of them are missing. He took the mobile and went out. He printed sheets with Harry’s name and others with the kid’s details. It reads as,

MISSING

Name : Kid

Age : 11 years

Description : Missing since 30th may 2018

If you found the kid, contact Ben Johansson +06 37623184 

He took out his bicycle and did what he has been doing for the past week. He pinned the sheets at all possible places. Two days later he reached the place where he met the kid. He smiled reminiscing how funny he was when he was making the paper boats. He sat down by the river and imagined as if the kid is still making paper boats and within a second he was not there. Guilt crawled onto Ben thinking that it was his carelessness that made the kid missing. He took a sheet and folded it into a paper boat and left it into the river. He doesn’t know why he did that but he started doing it. After a few minutes he looked into the river and saw more than 10 paper boats flowing through the river. He then stood up thinking that there are few more places he has to stick the sheets. He suddenly stopped and looked back into the river. All of his sheets are white in colour but there’s a brown boat amongst the white boats. He quickly walked into the river and started swimming gently not to drown the boat. He reached the brown boat, took it into his hands and swam back. The moment he reached the shore, he opened up the paper boat and found that on top it was written as ‘directions’ and then something like a curved line with a lot of turns. It seems like it was written with coal on a thick cardboard sheet like paper. At the bottom it was written as, ‘Uncle Ben, +06 37623184 from the kid’. This kid surely got a hell of memory. Ben quickly snapped that the line is the route from the kidnapping point and the turns are the left and rights. He called 911 and the next few minutes happened like a flash. Police came and took Ben to the station and from the sheet, a team was assigned to track every possible route with the map the kid drew. 

After more than five hours, a police van came in. Ben quickly rushed to it hoping that the van brought back all missing kids. Police driving the van said, ‘We did it sir. We got all the kids safe and sound including Harry and the kid.’ Ben felt as if tons of weight had been dropped from his shoulders. He felt light, happy and almost cried. He walked to the back of the van and waited for the police to open it. When it did, children ran down the van with happiness and tears in their eyes. In the end Harry came out. Ben recalled Harry’s parents in his mind and felt grateful for the god. Harry shouted, ‘Grandpa!’ while running to Ben and hugged him. Ben hugged him back saying, ‘Harry! Look at you. You are back now. How are you son?’ Both of them almost burst out their tears and started to cry. Then subtly, the kid came down from the van and looked at Harry and Ben with tears in his eyes. Ben looked at the kid and asked him to come. Kid came to him saying, ‘I told you the idea would work. It’s just the quality of the sheet that matters.’ Ben laughed and hugged him back saying, ‘you are right kid. You are right.’ He released the kid and said, ‘You can live with us kid.’ 

‘No No, I have many places to travel Uncle Ben. But I think I might stay here for some weeks but only on a condition that you’ll buy me as many thickshakes I am gonna ask.’ 

Ben chuckled and said, ‘Sure but remember kid, you always have a house and you can come and stay here whenever you want.’ Saying that all the three started to walk to the juice shop while the kid was still talking, ‘I even threw a paper plane. Didn’t it reach you?’

Ben laughed loud and said, ‘No son. But I hope it didn’t crash and will reach us.’

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