Chapter 21: In the Name of Our Friendship
Slowly, Shinta lowered her pistol. “A—Aiman?” she said, incredulous. “So—so you—you’re one of them?”
Aiman hung his head in shame. “Yes, I am.”
Shinta was flabbergasted when she found out that her best friend had become a bold, daring robber. The Aiman she knew was a very kind and helpful person. She couldn’t believe he would stoop so low as to steal.
“Oh Aiman, why do you have to rob? Don’t you know that what you’re doing is wrong?” Shinta demanded.
“You don’t understand, Shinta,” Aiman bellowed, “Our parents’ sudden death turned my and my sisters’ worlds upside down. We were forced to sell our parents’ house in order to pay off all their debts. I and my sisters then decided to move to Jakarta.”
“It’s apparent that I have misunderstood Aiman. He never had intention of leaving me and Nina, but the situation forced him to do so,” Shinta thought.
“In our first year of living in Jakarta,” Aiman went on, “we had to stay in a dingy small rented house in a slum area. I was having trouble finding a steady job in Jakarta. I did not even make enough money to cover the cost of the rent and food, so my sisters had to drop out school. Worst of all, we then found out that Adinda suffers from leukemia.”
Aiman’s words astonished Shinta. “She what?”
“Adinda suffers from cancer, Shinta,” Aiman repeated sadly.
Shinta shook her head in disbelief. “No way! You must be joking!”
“Would I jest about such a thing?” Aiman hollered.
Aiman’s reaction told Shinta that he was deadly serious. “I’m sorry,” she uttered.
“I was in a complete daze since hearing that Dinda suffers from leukemia,” Aiman continued, “I realized that the payments I got could never cover Dinda’s medical expenses. Therefore, I tried to look for a better job. But even after I had searched for a job everywhere, no one wanted to accept me, Shinta.”
Shinta listened sympathetically to Aiman’s tearful story. She never thought that he would endure so many hardships in his life. And Shinta felt bad because she couldn’t be there for him when he needed her the most.
Aiman carried on, “I was at a loss what to do next. Without treatment, Dinda would certainly die. But I didn’t know how I could get that kind of money to pay for her medical care. In the middle of my desperation, I fortunately came across those robbers. They offered me much money, so finally, I decided to join them.”
There was a long pause before Shinta spoke, “I understand everything you do is for your sisters’ sake, but this is still wrong, Aiman. You shouldn’t have become a robber. So, I am sorry, I have to arrest you now.”
Aiman laughed. “Come on, Shinta, you can’t be serious!”
“No Aiman, I am serious. Come with me to the police station now!” Shinta yelled as she carefully trained her gun on Aiman.
“Look, Shinta! You can’t nab me. If I were in prison, who would take care of my sisters? We’re orphans; they don’t have anyone in this world but me. My sisters need me, Shinta, especially Dinda. She needs her brother’s support the most when she’s having a tough time like this. So please you have let me go for my sisters!” Aiman pleaded.
“I am sorry, Aiman. This is my duty. I can’t help you,” Shinta said regretfully.
Aiman suddenly knelt before Shinta and caught her hand in both of his. “Please, Shinta! I acknowledged that I’ve done wrong. But please let me go just this once! Please, for our friendship’s sake!” he begged.
Shinta pondered over Aiman’s pleas. She knew that her best friend was wrong for breaking the law. But she also realized that she couldn’t blame him entirely. Poverty had driven Aiman to steal. If it weren’t because he urgently needed much money for Dinda’s treatment, he certainly would never dare to commit a crime.
Shinta felt a sudden overwhelming desire to help Aiman. She thought that her best friend deserved a second chance to atone for all his crimes. That’s why she decided to release him this time.
Shinta took a deep breath before she stated, “Fine. In the name of our friendship, I’ll let you go this time, Aiman.”
Aiman was unable to contain his relief after he found out that Shinta took the decision to let him go.
“But you must promise me that you will stop becoming a robber!” Shinta added firmly.
To be honest, Aiman doubted whether he could keep his promise or not. But he hastily made a vow before Shinta changed her mind. “Yes, Shinta, I promise I will quit being a robber for you.”
Shinta lastly helped Aiman to his feet. “Okay, Aiman, you have to go now before other police come here!”
“Thank you so much, Shinta,” Aiman said gratefully.
She only replied with a smile.
Aiman wheeled around. He stooped down to pick up his gun before straightening up and finally climbing over the wall that separated the alley from the other side of the road.
No sooner had Aiman disappeared from view than Shinta heard the sound of footsteps approaching.
At the same time, she spotted Aiman’s balaclava lying on the ground. Shinta hurriedly bent to retrieve the balaclava from the ground and quickly put it in her pocket.
By the time her partners from the Criminal Investigation Agency arrived, Shinta got tensed up. But she tried her best to hide her nervousness.
“Shinta, where is the robber?” asked one of Shinta’s partners, Inspector Rico.
“I am sorry, Sir, I lost him,” answered Shinta. It was the first time she lied to her partners and she felt a bit scared. She just prayed that nobody noticed the trembling in her legs, or else they would know that she was telling lies.
“Shit!” Inspector Rico cursed under his breath.
Shinta sighed with relief inwardly knowing that he bought her lies.
“Sir, we had better return to the crime scene now to gather evidence and the witnesses’ testimonies,” Shinta’s other partner, Brigadier Elisa suggested.
“Alright. Let’s go!” Inspector Rico spun on his heel and began walking away with Shinta and Elisa in tow.