Others

Be A Protector

beaprotector

‘Protector: a person in charge of the kingdom during the sovereign’s minority, incapacity, or absence.’ – English history.

I’ve thought about this. I’ve thought about this long and hard. And I’ve decided.

Now, I’m not loaded. I don’t have an overflowing bank account. But after seeing your generosity in supporting my dream, I’m inspired to pay it forward. You showed me what it means to give selflessly, and I want to do the same thing too.

No, this isn’t about a giveaway. Though, there are a couple more to come this month and they’ll be announced on Facebook.

So, what am I talking about? I’m talking about… slavery. I’m no expert on this issue, but I’m aware of its existence. I’m aware that it has ruined lives. And if there’s one cause I want to stand by, it is this: the fight against modern day slavery

There are approximately 36 million slaves in the world today. 50% are minors. And if you have $90, you can actually buy yourself one. This makes me angry. Children have been robbed of their childhood. People have been robbed of their rights. Families are torn apart. And for these individuals, living is meaningless.

I know… I am no Thom. I’m not a prince with a calling to save his people. I don’t have a magical aid. But I want to do something if I can. Hence, I’ve decided to give RM2 for every reader that pre-orders The Slave Prince to Change Your World.

Change Your World is a movement I’ve believed in for many years. Based in Malaysia, it exists to create opportunities and platforms for the young generation to ‘Save Lives’ through their creativity. This is as creative as I can get – telling stories. And if I can use my stories to stand for justice, then I should do it.

So, if you’d like to fight alongside me in this cause, pre-order a copy of The Slave Prince. I can only match two ringgit to a reader. But if you think it’s too little, forget ordering my book, reach out to Change Your World and support them. Saving lives is far more important.

For all those who’ve been eyeing the Geek & Sundry contest, there’s a month left. If you’d love to see my book hit the bookstores, please grab a copy at your earliest convenience. It only takes 5 minutes to help this dreamer – only 5 minutes to change a life. And if you stand by me, winning a publishing deal would be a walk in the park.

Original Works

The Apprentice

He needed the job, but he didn’t liked being bossed around. Sure, he made a mistake by bruising the girl, but she was struggling and he had no choices. What was Aaden expecting? A perfect merchandise?

“I told you to be careful!” Ganesh, his mentor, scolded him.

“I said it before, I’m saying it again, she was struggling!”

“You want this job or not? If you don’t, then say so,” Ganesh replied angrily.

Immediately, that shut him up.

Ah Chong was not going to argue with his mentor, there was no point. Besides, he was not angry with his mentor, but with his boss. He never understood why the girls had to be perfect, and why Aaden was obsessed in perfection. Ah Chong was sure he had met many others in the business who did not give two cents about how the girls were treated.

“You know why we have business every month? Because Aaden prides in quality,” Ganesh said, as though he had read Ah Chong’s mind.

“You know why I picked you up instead of the other boys?” Ganesh continued with another question.

“Because you think I could learn,” Ah Chong replied, rolling his eyes. He couldn’t even complete high school and here his mentor was, thinking he could learn the ‘art’ of kidnapping. What was there even to learn? Just snatch the girl right? No, he was often proven wrong. Ganesh had methods, flawless methods that met Aaden’s expectations, and Ah Chong was supposed to learn them.

That night, when Ganesh dropped him home, Ah Chong muttered a thank you, still upset at being scolded. But by the time he hit his bed, he decided to let it go.

Ah Chong was not really a studious boy. He was good with his hands and could fix a bike faster than reading a novel. So when he didn’t do so well in school, he decided to drop out and find a job. He started working in a mechanic shop and earned enough to assemble himself a bike. Soon, he found himself with a bunch of other boys pulling stunts with their bikes in the dead of night. It was, until he did one wrong move and found himself in the hospital bed for one whole week.

It was in the same hospital that Ganesh found him. Ganesh brought his wife for a checkup one morning when he found Ah Chong attempting to slip out of the hospital. Ah Chong knew he couldn’t get far but he wanted to attempt an escape anyways. He hated being treated like a child when he was old enough to vote.

“Where do you think you are going?” Ganesh asked, when he saw Ah Chong in his blue robes, peeping down a hallway.

“Out,” Ah Chong replied shortly.

“If you want out, they will let you out, once you’re well,” Ganesh said.

“I don’t need no lecture from you, uncle,” Ah Chong replied.

“I’m not giving you one, I’m just saying. Unfortunately, your family has to bear the cost of your stupidity, and here you are being more stupid than before.”

Ah Chong immediately turned to face the man who he thought loved intruding into other people’s business.

“Shut up or I’ll punch you,” Ah Chong threatened, not at all concern on how the man knew so much about him and his family.

“Punch me then. We’ll see you in a holding cell instead of a comfortable hospital bed,” Ganesh replied calmly.

“Who are you and what do you want?” Ah Chong asked.

“I want to help you,” Ganesh simply replied.

“How? You got money?”

“I know a way you can earn money.”

“I already earn money.”

“Not enough,” Ganesh said, and then he turned and walked down the hallway.

Ah Chong, unsure on what he was doing, quickly followed after him.

“How? How can I earn more?”

“I’ll find you again. You’ll do what I tell you to do, and you’ll get what you want.” That was all Ganesh said before he entered an elevator and disappeared behind the cold metal doors.

Soon, Ganesh found Ah Chong at one of his favorite hang outs, and without hesitation, Ah Chong followed Ganesh wherever he was taking him. He was introduced to the business and that night, with the girl at the club, was his first task.

Personally, he thought he did pretty well, but after he got scolded, Ah Chong knew he had a lot to learn. For once he was kind of eager to master such trade, wrong or not, Ah Chong did not care. There was money involved and money he wanted.

Sure, there were times when he started to question himself if he was doing the right thing. When he saw the missing pictures in the local newspaper and recognized the faces, he would start to have a debate with the little devil and angel that would comically appear from a cloud of imaginary smoke on his shoulders.

But no matter how the internal debate went, the little devil will end the debate with a statement that Ah Chong took every opportunity to use when his guilt sank in.

Ah Chong would often say to himself, “If you can’t stop them, you might as well join them right?” If only he knew he was wrong.

It is possible to end slavery in 25 years. – TheJustLife.Org

(Visit The Lucrative Business Page for more stories!)

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The Lucrative Business | The Apprentice © 2012 by Jeyna Grace. 
All rights reserved. 
Original Works

The Man in the Suit

The moment he heard the line click, he went straight to a cheerful hello. He was about to satisfy another client’s need and he could feel the tingling in his fingers. Yes, he was about to be paid again, and he couldn’t wait.

His wife had been demanding for a raise in her shopping allowance and his son has been asking for a Doberman. On top of that, he had seen that new Ferarri on the road and he wanted it so badly. Yes, his job was paying him so well, he did not have to wait any longer for his new car to be parked in his driveway.

After he ended his conversation with his client from Hong Kong, Aaden decided it was about time he headed home. It was already 3a.m in the morning and his wife would start questioning his absence, and accuse him for having a mistress somewhere. And though it was frustrating to hear her constant babbling, he knew he could shut her up by just handing her some cash to spend. Sometimes he wondered if he married the right woman. His mother did object to their marriage but he did not listen; well, shame on him.

As he headed to the parking lot, he thought about how he started in this business. It wasn’t something he had a choice with; it was something he had gotten from his father. His father had personally taught him all that he knew, and he remembered the first time he was brought to the docks; it was on a school night, and his mother wasn’t very happy about it.

Aaden was about 10 when he followed his father to work. He recalled the day he sat on the hood of his father’s car, watching men taking girls out from a black van. They weren’t very gentle as they would shove and drag the crying girls. If their wails had gotten too loud, the men would strike them so hard that it would send the girls sprawling on the ground. Some nights, Aaden would try to hide in the shadows, hoping that none of the girls would see him there. He did not like them looking at him, pleading for help, when he knew he could not do anything to stop the men from hurting them.

His father told him that those girls needed to learn. But Aaden was not sure what there was to learn. One night, a week after his 12 birthday, his father had forced him to touch one of those girls. Aaden hated it. Even in school, he thought girls were annoying and pesky. But when his father gave the command, Aaden felt like he had to do what he was told, just like one of his father’s men.

Aaden can say that he had learned a lot from his father, obediently following after his footsteps. And on his father’s death bed, Aaden heard what he wanted to hear from his father for a very long time; “I’m proud of you boy,” his father muttered, just a breath away from his last.

After his father’s death, Aaden took over the family business and practiced many things his father had practiced. But there was only one thing he learned from his father that he did not model after; using the merchandise before it was sold.

Aaden had some sort of integrity when it came to delivering perfect goods. Using them before sending them over is like using a computer and then selling it and claiming it is new. No, he was a man of his words and when he said they were new, they WERE new. That was why he got upset when one of Ganesh’s men ruined one of the merchandises. His client was sure to see the bruise and Aaden had to call his client again to apologize for the slight damage. If he had not done so, his reputation would be scarred, and that was something he could not handle.

Ganesh better learns to handle his mule, Aaden thought.

His clients came from different countries all over the world and the only reason why they kept coming back to him instead of the others was because of his practice. Yes, they liked the way he did things and so did he. Hence, he expected everyone who worked under him to do the same.

As he got into his car, trying to forget the disappointment of the state of the last merchandise, Aaden decided to make a call to his ‘friend’.

His ‘friend’ who had gotten him all the merchandises he was seeking for was a talented man. Markus was his name and he always had files of information lying on his desk.

“Markus,” Aaden said, the moment the monotonous ringing stopped.

“It’s late,” Markus replied, sounding groggy. Aaden had completely forgotten what time it was, but he didn’t care anyways.

“I need a list by tomorrow,” Aaden continued.

“O.k,” Markus said and he hung up.

So much for being a ‘friend’, Aaden thought.

The journey home was a short one, as he ended up falling asleep while his driver cruised down the deserted highways.

By the time he reached the compounds of his home, he headed up to the guest room and slumped onto the equally comfortable bed as his own. He didn’t want to wake his wife and he didn’t want to be yelled at for not taking a shower, hence, the guest room was so welcoming in the dead of night.

As he stared at the ceiling fan spinning smoothly, Aaden wondered how his life would have been like if he did not follow after his father’s footsteps. Would he have been rich? Would he have been famous? Would he have a loving wife?

Would he have been happy? Was he happy now?

He was sure happy he had money, but that was all. Aaden didn’t know why he was questioning his life, he didn’t even know if what he did was right or wrong. He knew that he never touched any of the girls since he started, nor did he do things to them like what his clients did, but sometimes, he felt like he was exactly like the pimps that ran the brothels. No matter how differently he would do things from his father, he was still his father in the end.

At the end of the questions, Aaden decided to conclude that he was happy. He was happy with his life because he had a beautiful wife and an obedient son. He was happy he had the car, the house and the home theater that he wanted. And despite that occasional feeling of emptiness, Aaden was happy.

When he finally shut his eyes, he fell right into a dreamless state. A state many others could not have because of his lucrative business.

161 countries are affected by human trafficking. – AbolitionMedia.Org

(Visit The Lucrative Business Page for more stories!)

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The Lucrative Business | The Man in the Suit © 2012 by Jeyna Grace. 
All rights reserved. 
Original Works

The Merchandise

Jackie was a young girl of nineteen. She had just finished sitting for her major exams and was convinced by her best friend that going to a club would do her good. Her friend was wrong though, Jackie didn’t like clubs. She didn’t like the smoke, the crowd and the noise. She was one of those girls who would stay at home and read a book all evening. She was also a girl who would rather stay up all night and swallow an entire Physics text book instead of bearing the pain in her feet as she attempted to dance in her high heels.

It was a mistake to have followed Melissa, a big mistake.

But how could Jackie say no when she had promised Melissa she would go?

Jackie remembered that afternoon when Melissa made her pinky swear. It was after school and Melissa and Jackie had stayed back to revise on the day’s lessons. They were in the school library when they heard the bell ring for the third time that day, signaling that the afternoon session was about to begin. Oh, Jackie remembered those days, when she was just an innocent thirteen year old who would sing the national anthem and the school song as though she was in her favorite band’s concert.

She also remembered the first time she met the wide-eyed Melissa, who wasn’t at all innocent at that young age. Melissa was a pretty Chinese girl whose fair skin made Jackie look too tanned. Jackie, who was half Chinese, did not exactly have a lot of Chinese genes to begin with, but that didn’t stop many from thinking she was.

Having hung out with Melissa since day one made them both twins at heart. Melissa would somehow know what was going on in Jackie’s mind and Jackie would know what was going on in Melissa’s mind. That afternoon in the library was no different.

“Remember when we use to sing those songs so enthusiastically?” Melissa asked.

“Yea, I remember.” Jackie laughed.

“I admire our school spirit back then. Now, I just can’t wait to get out of these uniforms!”

“Well, you had a choice; you could have gone to university instead of doing form 6?”

“I know! I could have saved myself the stress too! STPM is killing me! Why isn’t it killing you?”

“Because-“

“Because you’re a nerd,” Melissa finished her sentence for her.

“Yea, yea. And you’re a rebel,” Jackie replied.

“Truth!” Melissa exclaimed a little too loudly that a librarian turned to them and gave them a narrow stare.

Melissa laughed and ignored the girl who rolled her eyes at them.

“Once the exams are over, you have to come clubbing with me,” Melissa suddenly said.

“I don’t think I would like it.”

“You can’t say that without trying it out first.”

“Well, I know I wouldn’t like it, so why waste time?”

“Promise me you would try to have a little fun in your life.” Melissa sighed and shook her head.

“I know a lot of other fun things to do besides clubbing,” Jackie said.

“Sure you do, like studying,” Melissa mocked.

“Way better than getting all sweaty and dirty.”

“I don’t care what you say. Promise me now that you would go with me once the exams are over.” Melissa immediately held out her pinky for Jackie.

“Nah.” Jackie returned to the book in front of her, hoping Melissa would just drop it.

“Promise me!” Melissa shouted, and the librarian turned to them again.

“Shhhh!” Jackie scolded.

“Promise me now!” Melissa shouted again.

Great, Melissa knew Jackie’s weakness of following rules and now she was using her weakness to force her into making a promise she could not break.

Without much of a choice, Jackie made the pinky swear and secretly hoped that Melissa would forget. Unfortunately, Melissa’s memory for promises was way better than historical facts.

A week after the exams were over, Jackie found herself in a club trying her best to have a good time. She tried to keep things positive and told herself that this was an experience she needed to have.

But after attempting to dance for about an hour, Jackie gave up. For the rest of the night, she just sat at their booth declining guys who kept coming up to her with drinks and requests to make body contact on the dance floor. Grossed out by the amount of strangers who kept pestering her to do something she did not want to do, she decided to leave.

She told herself that she would text Melissa once she got home, so she had no chance to try and make her stay. Carefully slipping away from her friend, who would not even notice her gone with all the attention she was getting from strangers, Jackie left the club through the back entrance and sent her mother a text message.

“I’m on my way home,” Jackie read out loud what she typed on her old school Nokia phone. No, she was no hipster; she just didn’t care what kind of phone she had. And no, she was not a goody two shoes, she just promised her mother she would inform her when she was leaving.

Jackie had driven that night and because it was the city, she was forced to park blocks away. It was already 12 midnight but the booming music from the club still meant the night was young. But young or not, Jackie just wanted to go home.

Being from another city, Jackie was starting to get confused with the roads. Every block did not look familiar and before she knew it, Jackie was lost. Though Jackie had an inkling she made a wrong turn somewhere, she just kept walking, because there was a foreboding feeling every time she stood still to decide which lane to take. The sound of her beating heart did not make it easier when she ended up in a quiet lane with no car in sight except for a taxi parked at the side of the road.

“Great,” Jackie muttered as she kept her head down and hurried down the lane. She saw some people hanging around a building ahead of her and she decided to head to them and ask for directions. But before she could even make it out of that lane, a car drove past and stopped abruptly in front of her, blocking her path.

It took Jackie a few seconds to realize what was happening, and only when the back door opened, did Jackie run. Her high heels made it difficult to make distance between her and the man, and before she could even make it out of the lane, she felt him grab her from the back and began dragging her to the car.

Jackie screamed and yelled for help, hoping that the people she saw earlier would hear her, but unfortunately, her screams fell on deaf ears. Jackie attempted to wiggle herself free from the man’s grip, but by the time she managed to slip out, he was already shoving her into the backseat of the car.

Jackie instinctively reached for the other car door, and tried yanking it open, but she should have known that they weren’t stupid. Kicking and trashing her arms, Jackie demanded what was going on and what they want with her, and when the car came to a stop, Jackie innocently thought they were going to let her go.

She was wrong of course, because the driver asked the man in the backseat to shut her up and drug her. Upon hearing those words, Jackie kicked harder and screamed louder. It was useless in the end because the moment the man pinned her down and injected the transparent liquid into her arm, Jackie slowly lost full control of her limbs.

She was in serious trouble right now and Jackie knew she was done for. As her world began spinning round and round, Jackie heard the driver make a call, and moments later, after she lost count of how many street lamps the car drove past, she felt herself being pulled out from the backseat and into a standing position.

The two men were strong enough that Jackie did not even have to try walking. She felt as though she was floating above the ground, as she stared at her feet being dragged on the road.

Moments later, Jackie was certain another man came to greet them and he started to touch her face and hands. He was examining her, like how a vet would examine a sick animal. He lifted her face but she could not clearly make out the man’s features. Then he lifted her hands and scolded one of the men propping her. Finally, the drugs just sent her head spiraling in flashes of bright colors, reminding her of those swirly lollipops she would beg her parents to buy her when she was a child.

What she last remembered was not being dragged off, but a false memory of her future. It was so real that it made that night look like a bad dream. But when she finally woke up, she found herself in a dark, chilly place. Was she still dreaming? No, Jackie knew she wasn’t, because her head was starting to ache badly.

The walls around her were cold, and they had a strong rusty smell. As she waved her hands around her, she found nothing but the metal walls. She was locked up like an animal and the sudden realization of what was happening made her hands tremble.

She hugged herself tightly and told herself everything was going to be alright, but she knew, deep down, that it wasn’t. Upon the sound of a blowing horn, Jackie broke into tears. She knew she was never going home, because home was gallons of salt water away. And whatever lied ahead was a future she hoped she didn’t have to live long to see.

Approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation. – DosSmething.Org

(Visit The Lucrative Business Page for more stories!)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The Lucrative Business | The Merchandise © 2012 by Jeyna Grace. 
All rights reserved. 
Original Works

The Transporter

It was 12 midnight. He had been waiting by his car for 3 hours, and he was down to his 4th cigarette. Four sticks in three hours; that was an achievement, Ganesh thought he should reward himself. But then he remembered the time where he had not smoked at all. It was two years ago when his daughter was still crawling. She was a beautiful young thing. He remembered the nights he would stand over her crib wondering how such an adorable little creature could become his; his sweet Sonya.

But two years ago was far worse than being a smoker. He was in a situation where he had no one to turn to and an empty wallet that only contained the picture of his wife and daughter which constantly sent guilt into his already uneasy heart. He could still recall the day he was fired, or, in more accurate terms, forced to resign.

“I’m afraid we have to let you go,” his boss, who was an old, bald but bearded, Chinese man, told him with a straight face.

“I’m fired?” Ganesh could not even believe what he was saying.

“Let’s just say you have decided to move on. I want your resignation letter by Monday,” his boss said.

Ganesh remember leaving his boss’ office wondering how he was ever going to tell his wife. They had just bought a new car and the loans were already taxing on him.

Leaving his office after he had collected all his belongings, the only thing he was thankful at that moment was his definite escape from the Kuala Lumpur traffic at 5pm. Ah, at least that was something he didn’t have to go through everyday, now that he was fired. Joy, Ganesh thought, trying to make that a reason to rejoice over.

Sadly, the reality that he was now jobless, with a wife and kid to feed, made no other attempt for positivity successful. Driving his car out of the city towards his home in Subang, Ganesh wondered how he was going to break the news to his wife. She would be so upset, and she would start worrying about everything. No, she would not scold him, or blame him, and that only made things worse. Finally deciding not to go home, Ganesh gave a call to his good friend, Markus.

Markus was the Eurasian boy he sat next to in high school. They were so close that they became inseparable. Often times, their classmates would call them a couple, but when Ganesh got married, they all decided to shut up. Markus was his best man at his wedding and also his daughter’s god father. He trusted Markus with his life, but maybe it was a bad idea to trust Markus with his future.

That evening, he and Markus sat down at a coffee shop drinking the only thing Ganesh could afford, a glass of Chinese tea.

“What’s up man?” Markus asked, sensing how troubled Ganesh was.

“I lost my job,” Ganesh said.

“What? How come?”

“I wasn’t…. productive,” Ganesh replied. And that was exactly what his boss said.

“Dude, you bring in the most business!”

“I haven’t been bringing in much lately,” Ganesh admitted.

“Doesn’t matter! You see, that’s the problem with corporate companies, they keep you when they need you and trash you when they don’t.”

Ganesh sighed in reply. What else was there to say? No matter how much he could complain about his former company, it was not going to change the fact that he was fired.

“How’s your business doing?” Ganesh decided to change the topic.

“Pretty good man, the money is rolling!”

“You’re still doing that talent business right?”

“Yup,” Markus said with a nod.

“The film industry in Malaysia isn’t blossoming, what talent do you need to find?”

“Dude, talents are not just for screen,” Markus answered.

“Then?”

Markus smiled. Oh, that same suspicious smile he always did when he pulled a prank or did something that could get him in serious trouble.

“Oh no, what did you do this time?” Ganesh asked jokingly.

Markus laughed and shook his head. They sat in a short moment of silence before Markus emptied his glass of Chinese tea and said, “If you’re really desperate, I could get you a job.”

“Really?” Ganesh was desperate, desperately not wanting to tell his wife he was fired.

“Yea. I have a friend in the overseas trade business and he’s looking for a transporter he can trust.”

“Transport what?” Ganesh asked.

“Goods. They pay a lot. Each shipment you could probably earn ten grand. And they make at least one shipment a month.”

“Ten grand?!”

“Yup. You can consider that a pay raise if you take the job.”

“A pay raise of one hundred percent man!” Ganesh could feel relieve sinking in and washing away all the uneasiness he once had.

“Yup,” Markus said smiling.

“Tell me more!” Ganesh was eager to save himself.

“Well, I want to, but I have to be discreet about this. It’s not exactly a licensed business,” Markus said softly, leaning in as he spoke.

“It’s illegal?” Ganesh replied in a whisper.

“Well, it’s not licensed,” Markus repeated and continued, “And they pay in cash. You’re also not allowed to bank in your salary.”

“Why not?”

“Ten grand every month? Wouldn’t that raise suspicion when you’re jobless?”

“True.”

“Think about this before you decide. Because once you’re in, it is a good as signing a contract. Give me a call once you have decided.”

“Can’t you at least tell me what goods are being transported?”

“Nope. Not until you decide.”

With that, Ganesh left pondering if he should even consider taking the job. If it was illegal, all he could think of was drugs. Ganesh knew what the penalty of possessing drugs was, and he didn’t want to take the risk. This illegal business sounded so wrong but it sounded like a good deal. Who would turn away ten grand a month just to get something across the borders? Ganesh wished he had, but when he made the call to Markus that very night, after putting his little Sonya to bed, he knew that there was no turning back.

“You sure about this?” Markus asked for the third time over the phone.

“Yes. Now tell me what are the goods,” Ganesh repeated softly, as he stood starring at the kitchen sink.

His wife was out in the hall watching a rerun episode of Project Runway, and had asked him to fetch her a glass of water. He knew she was going to ask him what the holdup was anytime soon and he didn’t want to have her walk in on the call.

“Once I tell you, there’s no turning back you know,” Markus said.

“Would you just stop that? Is it drugs?” Ganesh made a wild guess.

“No. Drugs are dangerous,” Markus replied.

“Then?”

“They are girls,” Markus said.

“Girls? What girls?”

“Young girls.”

At that moment, drugs sounded way better than girls.

“Trafficking… trafficking girls?” Ganesh could not stomach the thought of doing something like that.

“Dude, there’s no turning back now you know. You insisted I tell you. I didn’t force you on this,” Markus quickly say, afraid that Ganesh would change his mind.

“I…”

“YOU are going to meet my friend and take the job. Ten grand man, ten grand, you can send your kid to an elite kindergarten.” There was something in Markus’ tone that made Ganesh wonder.

“Are you in this business as well? Does your talent job of yours have to do with…” Ganesh could not complete his sentence. It was hard to believe that Markus was part of it.

“Yes. I scout for talent. And every talent I bring in pays for my bills, my wife’s shopping, my house and car loans, and puts food on my table.”

Ganesh went silent. So did Markus. It was silent for so long that Ganesh thought he did not even make the call and he was merely placing his phone on his ear for no reason.

“Bro,” Markus finally said.

“I’ll meet that friend of yours,” Ganesh finally replied.

“Good. I knew I could trust you. I’ll call you once I set up a meeting,” Markus said, before biding goodbye.

The monotonous beeping that followed after sent Ganesh’s mind drifting away. What did he just agree to? It all felt like a dream until his wife walked in and asked him what was the holdup. If she was a few minutes too early, he would have just said no. Well, at least she didn’t know.

A week later, Markus brought Ganesh to a classy restaurant in the city. He was asked to wear a suit up and when his wife asked him why he was so dolled up, he said he might get a pay raise. Oh, the squeals his wife made taunted him throughout the lunch meeting.

The restaurant that afternoon was filled with up-class people. Their chatter involved Porches for the men, and Prada for the women. Ganesh wondered if he could ever have the life they currently had.

Five minutes after they were shown to their reserved table, a man walked in with two bodyguards tailing behind him. His neatly pressed suit and shiny shoes made some of the customers in the nearby table look too cheap. Heck, it made Ganesh look like he lived in a wooden house.

This man looked around the same age as him. He had a pretty tanned skin with good features. If he had a group of paparazzi following him, one would think he was a celebrity. Upon reaching the table, he took a seat across them and waved his bodyguards to leave them.

“They won’t stop following you, huh?” Markus said.

“I paid them to do just that. But sometimes, I wish I hadn’t,” the man said with a chuckle.

Markus laughed while Ganesh merely smiled.

“This is Ganesh, the guy I was telling you about,” Markus introduced.

“Well, obviously, who else could he be? Your new bodyguard? He dresses better than you do,” the man joked.

Ganesh laughed. This man seemed pretty nice.

“I’m Aaden,” the man introduced as he offered his hand.

“Nice to meet you,” Ganesh said as he shook his hand. From his name, Ganesh suspected him to be one that fell under the heritage of the early dwellers in Malaysia.

“So, I heard you’re interested in this business,” Aaden said.

“Well.” Ganesh did not know how to reply. Was he really interested? Or was he just doing it because Markus said there was no turning back?

“It’s a lucrative business. One that comes in cash,” Aaden said smiling.

“So I’ve heard,” Ganesh replied.

“I see that you are quite uncertain here,” Aaden said, looking him in the eye.

“He’s not, he’s just-“

“Give the man a break Markus. You say he’s your good friend right? Even if he turns down this job offer, he’s not going to betray us,” Aaden interrupted Markus, but he never once looked away from Ganesh.

“Of course not,” Ganesh said with a forced chuckle.

“Look, I’m an understanding man. Getting into this business is a big decision, not just for you but for your wife and daughter too. So you can take all the time you need before you decide.”

“How do you know I have a wife and daughter?” Ganesh immediately asked, turning to Markus as he did.

“I check up on the people I intend to hire. I don’t trust any random Tom, Dick and Harry that comes up to me for a job until I know who they are, and where they come from,” Aaden casually replied.

Ganesh merely looked at Aaden, knowing that even if he turned down the job, he was now in a circle he could not get out. How could Markus betray him like that? Ganesh thought to himself.

“Let me know when you have made up your mind. But don’t take too long, I have a lost list of potential transporters. I’ll hold off meeting the others for a week, just because you’re Markus’ friend,” Aaden said as he got up. He then straightened his black blazer before nodding at them and exiting the restaurant.

“How could you tell him!” Ganesh immediately turned to Markus when Aaden had disappeared from sight.

“I did not tell him anything but your name,” Markus replied calmly.

“Don’t lie to me,” Ganesh said.

“I’m not. He has good contacts everywhere,” Markus said. “Look, Aaden has a wife too, and a son. His kid goes to some international school I can’t remember what it’s called. I know where he lives and I trust him. You don’t have to be afraid of him, he won’t hurt you.”

“Even if I say no?”

“Why would you say no? Are you stupid?”

“Harsh bro, harsh,” Ganesh muttered.

“I’m just being frank. You know it is tough looking for jobs right now. Every company you attempt to join will probably tell you, you are over qualified. But let’s say they do give you an offer, it would not be enough to pay your car loan.”

Markus was right, he was absolutely right.

Ganesh took a few days to think, but with his wife constantly asking if he got the raise, Ganesh decided to make up his mind. He called Markus two days after the lunch meeting and agreed to the job. The very next day, Markus came over with his wife to announce that they were going to have a baby, and to pass him a brand new phone. Ganesh was forced into a celebrative mood even though he did not know what he was celebrating.

“He’ll call you on this line.” That was all Markus said when Ganesh pocketed the phone.

It was a couple of weeks later that he got a call and he did his transporting job for the first time. It was hard at first, but when the money got rolling and the months passed by, it got easier. Soon, it was just a job and nothing personal.

Thinking back, Ganesh could not believe that it has been two years. Time really flies, Ganesh thought. And then he heard his apprentice shuffling his feet on the gravel road. Why can’t he pick up his feet when he walks? Ganesh wondered, annoyed at the boy’s habit.

Unlocking his car door, Ganesh hopped into the driver’s seat and headed to pick up a last minute order from the nearby clubs. The poor girl would not even see it coming.

Human trafficking is the 3rd largest international crime industry that reaps the biggest profit.  – CNN Freedom Project                                          

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The Lucrative Business | The Transporter © 2012 by Jeyna Grace. 
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