"Dad, are you taking my Cell phone?"
"But dad, you will be on tour for nearly two days."
"Jim, it's only for one night. I will be back, definitely by tomorrow afternoon."
"Dad," whispered Jimmy softly. "You told me that your plans will change frequently."
Nathaniel nodded, as what Jimmy had said was true. Eight year old James, Jimmy to his immediate family, is the second son of Nathaniel, the Chief Security Officer of the Cabinet Minister. Having packed for the over night journey Nathaniel joined the family for breakfast the next day.
Dressed up in their school uniforms, the two children were seated around the dining table, with Jimmy missing.
"Jimmy asked me to take his mobile phone for this tour," said Nathaniel with a sigh, to his wife Gloria, "As I refused he must be upset."
"Oh is that the reason he was so quiet."
Just then Jim came with the mobile.
"Mom, my phone has better connectivity than dads'."
"Jimmy," explained Gloria. "Your dad is a Chief Security Officer to the minister and he must have been provided with the latest version."
Seeing the disappointed look on Jimmy, Gloria asked her husband "Why don't you take his phone too?"
"Ok, Jim, I'll take it," said Nathaniel patting him on his back.
It was nine in the morning as the blue and white Bell helicopter took off gracefully from the Hyderabad airport with nine passengers on board. For the two pilots, it was a routine flight. Though it was raining heavily and the weather forecast was grim with thunder showers till late in the day, the pilot gave the go ahead for the journey, as it is only for an hour. The minister along with two senior and three junior officials completed the entourage. The flight was earlier planned to have two stopovers along the route, but was canceled due to inclement weather and was deviated to towards the city of Kurnool, a good 200 kms away.
Four hours back, at five in the morning, a look out on the top of the tree in the thick forest surrounding the city of Kurnool, shouted a warning to his leader, the head of an outfit named Green Group, GG for short, of an approaching person. GG is a friendly and helpful outfit to the villagers but a nuisance to the police. The police viewed their activities with suspicion as the group resisted any attempts by the forest officials to auction the forest produce.
"The minister's flight is right over forest," announced the messenger breathlessly.
"It's the news which we were waiting all these years," nodded the leader and turning towards his junior motioned him to serve food to the messenger.
"Sir, we are taking a great risk by taking this deviation," cautioned Nathaniel to the minister, after their visit to Kurnool. "And in this weather it's really a great risk."
"Don't worry Nathaniel. It's only a twenty minute deviation," assured the minister. "No one will notice it."
"But Sir, it's over the densely forested area," protested Nathaniel.
"Nathaniel it's important that I make this surprise visit."
It was the roar of the helicopter that made everyone in the Sun Village look up towards the sky. The roar was deafening as it flew right over their heads. Craning their heads the villagers were shocked at the path the helicopter took.
"It's flying over the 'Forest of No Return'," shouted the headman, staring at the fast fading flying machine. Regaining his posture he asked for the village postman.
At the state capital, the officials were worried that there was no communications from the helicopter for the last half an hour. They last communicated after the helicopter left the city of Kurnool. As the time stretched to five in the evening, the officials were really frantic and calls were made to search for the missing helicopter.
A massive land and air operation was started with no one having an idea as to where the search had to be carried from. It's just like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
"Mom," shouted Jim, rushing in from his room upstairs, to the kitchen, "Dad's helicopter is missing for the last two hours."
Gloria nodded silently, motioning to him that she was talking on the cell phone.
"That was from dad's office," said Gloria, keeping the cell phone on the dinning table. "They have not made contact with the helicopter yet."
"The cell phone!" Exclaimed Jim as he picked her cell phone from the table.
"Mom I'll SMS to dad."
The Special Secretary called the Minister, "Sir, they have contacted the Cabinet Minister. He is safe. They have landed right over in the middle of the forest which the locals call 'The forest of No Return'. His exact location was located based on an SMS message sent by the Chief Security Officer's son. Help is on the way."
"I am thankful to God, and to our Chief Security Officer, Nathaniel, who with his fast thinking and planning was able to establish contact from that remote forest," announced the Cabinet Minister at the late night press conference.
"Sir, the credit goes to my son who insisted that I take his mobile phone. His phone is activated with the Company which lately had more towers in that part of the area which we were on tour, that helped us catch the signals clearly"
"Well Ladies and gentlemen," continued the Cabinet Minister, "I had actually wanted to visit the city of Kurnool and the adjoining area, but thanks to the weather and the unexpected turn of the events I was able to interact with the villages near the so called 'Forest of No Return'. Indeed because of the unexpected stopover, I was able to understand the real problems facing the villages. It was a very fruitful and an eye opener to me."
"Can you imagine whom I met while in the deep forest?" continued the Minister. "It's none other than the leader of the so called dreaded GG outfit. It was a real eye opener for me that we mistook the motives of their operations. Groups like GG should be encouraged to take active part in the development of the forests. My special thanks to the postman of the Sun Village. He is a real help as us as he explained to me very clearly the problems facing the villages in that dense forest."
After the press conference, as the minister was walking towards his car he asked Nathaniel, "What was the SMS message you received from your son?"
"Dad, don't worry, God is with you"
Victor Jasti lives in India and is passionate about writing short stories based on the Bible and real incidents. He also writes Christian fiction and poetry. Five of his poems were published in Temporal Currents compiled by an American author, Ms. Christine Tricarico.
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