“Stopppppp!” She was panting and shrieking at the same time; trying to stop the monster who had been chasing her with a caterpillar in his hand. The servants were enjoying the playful act being portrayed by two of their young masters. The whole lush green lawn was buzzing with the laughter of a young cheerful male voice, accompanied by the overly dramatic, youthful, sweet shrieking of their mistress. Even the guards were enjoying the view from afar. Holding their guns on their shoulders, they were so engrossed in the drama that the sound of the honking vehicle failed to grab their attention for a while.
Once the shiny black SUV stopped just outside the gates of the manor and the driver honked the horn again, one of the guards abruptly looked outside and ran towards the gates to open them for the awaiting Audi Q5. The vehicle entered through the charcoal colored driveway of the haveli and halted on one of the many car pads on the right-hand side of the shaded parking area. A uniformed chauffeur promptly got out and opened the back doors of the SUV for his masters.
As soon as Saba and Nawaaz emerged from the backseat, their attention was drawn towards the shrieking voice of Zoya, who was running in their direction with a racket in one hand. Behind her was none other than their only son Bilal; holding a tiny little thing between his fingers and sporting a devilish smirk on his lips. His beautiful black eyes were shining in total amusement and triumph.
“Apa, veerji, stop him or I will hit him with this racket on his head.” She approached them, panting heavily.
“Easy there, kid; what’s the matter?” Nawaaz held her upper arm to balance her on her place. She was looking really scared.
“Zoya what’s the matter?” Saba asked, a little worried for her well being. Zoya was standing between Saba and Nawaaz; panting and sweating profusely on account of the excessive physical activity she was forced to indulge in by her friend, who had a live caterpillar in his fist.
Bilal came and stopped in front of them, with his fist closed, still laughing like a madman.
“Bilal, what did you do now? Look at her, she is looking so petrified.” Nawaaz asked his son sternly.
“Oh dad, she is such a kid. I really don’t know how mamu handles her.” He started laughing again.
“Bilal, come off it. What’s there in your hand?” Saba asked her son.
“Apa, he has a giant caterpillar in his hand.” Zoya shouted at Bilal, who was now openly flaunting his companion on his fist. The insect was crawling on his palm, making Zoya cringe on his action.
“Ohh God, I am feeling nauseous again.” She put her hand on her chest and buried her face in Saba’s shoulder.
“Bilal throw this away at once, you are such a spoilt kid. You know she is phobic about caterpillars,” Nawaaz scolded his son, while a small smile tugged on his lips. Bilal dumped the insect back into one of the carved rows of shrubs.
“Zoya, are you okay chanda?” Saba asked her, a little concerned.
“My head is spinning apa. He made me run almost two complete rounds across the lawn. He is so wicked.”
Saba escorted her in through the marbled archway of the grand manor. She helped her onto one of the living lounge sofas, and ordered a maid to bring a glass of juice for Zoya.
“Salaam amma,” Saba and Nawaaz greeted amma who had made her way in to the lounge with her nurse supporting her.
Amma gave her blessings to her daughter and son-in-law, who had come after a week on amma’s beckoning.
“Zoya, what happened chanda? You are looking very pale. You were alright when I left you just an hour ago?” Amma asked worriedly with her questioning gaze lifted up in Saba’s direction.
“Nothing amma, I am good now. Billy scared me with a caterpillar. I will be okay soon, don’t worry.” She took a glass of fresh juice from the maid and gulped down the cold liquid.
“You girls are so weak, only eat junkies for a meal. You should be more concerned towards your diet chanda, or you will end up catching cold or some other infection. The winters over here are always harsher than in other parts of the country. And this boy Saba, he is very careless. I wonder what he does in Amrica when no one is around him.”
“Bilal, amma is right. You ought to get a little serious with respect to your life. You should also be more dedicated regarding your studies; your grades were not so promising in the previous semester.” Saba softly scolded her son for his careless attitude towards life. Bilal was least interested in these talks, which he found a bit over the top.