The mullahs were triumphant. They had been vindicated and, from their citadels, exhorted the people to rise up against corruption and injustice. Their waning popularity was instantly restored and their hold had never been stronger. A phone call to Paris told their spiritual leader in exile that it was time to start preparations for the journey back home.
Farid and Kamal were praised by the Head of the Secret Police.
“We didn’t really do much, sir,” said Farid. “Akbar and Ismail, and Zahra even, deserve the credit more than we do.”
“You were both very observant regarding the beggar and thwarted his plan. So, maybe all five of you can share the credit.”
“It was the agent’s bad luck, sir,” said Kamal.
“That’s the name of the game, young man. No matter how good you are, luck can go against you. Well, now you can enjoy New Year with your families before returning to England. I believe your family has an added reason to celebrate, Moussavi.”
“Yes, sir. How can we thank you ? Father has received his compensation and a pension, and he is hoping to buy a small house.”
“Well, I’m glad. Keep up the good work both of you.”
Farid had realised as he sat in the sitting room with his arm around Zahra that night, that he loved her despite her past. She had simply been a victim of circumstances.
“Will you wait for me until I return from England ?”
“Of course I will,” she had cried overjoyed. “But what about your parents ?”
“What about them ?”
“They would never accept me.”
“They don’t know anything about you. Don’t worry,” he said gently. “Your friends in New Town would never say anything, nor would Aunt Helene.”
“What about Kamal ?”
“He only knows about your singing, nothing else. My parents may be disappointed if I don’t marry some General’s daughter, but they will respect my choice like they did with my sister, Samira.”
Akbar, on hearing the news, congratulated them both.
“Do you mind if Zahra still sings for me ?”
“If she wants to, it will be OK for now, but when I return from England, I shall want her at home in the evenings with me !”
“I promise I’ll look after her for you.”
“Yeah, me too,” affirmed Ismail.
“I know you will,” answered Farid, and shook hands with them both. “She couldn’t be in safer hands.”
“Sorry, boss,” said Ismail as Farid, Zahra and Kamal left.
“What for ?”
“That you lost her.”
“I never really had her, Ismail. I was in love with a memory. Besides, we can’t let women get in the way of business, can we ?” he exclaimed, thumping Ismail on the back.
“No, boss, we can’t,” replied Ismail grinning back.
This was more like the Akbar he knew. Things couldn’t be better.
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