It was the evening before Shahzeb’s birthday. All the decorations were almost complete for the morrow. The white marbled manor of Najafgarh was presenting the image of an adorned bride; bedecked and glorified from its high roof tops to its lush green lawns. Garlands of tiny silvery lights covered the whole 25 square yard compound walls of the endless lawn of Sardar Alam Khan’s gigantic mansion. Heavy chandeliers were hanging from the high roofs of the front foyer. Round leather couches were set beautifully around the curved foyer. All that was left for tomorrow was the tables, chairs and flowers to be arranged. The whole mansion was screaming its leisurely opulence.
The white BMW entered through the giant gate of the mansion and stopped at the charcoal driveway in front of the foyer. A uniformed chauffeur sprang out from the driving seat and opened the back doors of the luxury vehicle for his masters.
Zoya emerged from the car, embellished in a baby pink silk long shirt paired with matching pants and a heavily embroidered dupatta arranged gracefully on her right shoulder. Shahzeb was already beside her, and held her hand in his firm grip.
Zoya wasn’t feeling well after the tiring trip to Delhi which involved the proper fitting and pick up of their clothes, along with accessories.
They had already selected and ordered their outfits from a famous Indian designer’s online outlet. The designer was Shahzeb’s personal favorite and one of his good friends, so she gladly accepted their request on such a short notice. She already had their measurements in her top customers’ record file, so the outfits were almost ready; just the final fitting alterations were left, which took a couple of hours. Zoya’s accessories were also pre-selected from a top brand jewellery house; from their latest Royal endorsement collection. They just had to pick up the stuff from their store located in South Delhi.
But Shahzeb took a short detour to his executive office, as he would be busy for the next couple of days and wouldn’t be able to come back to Delhi. After a tiring day out and continuous travelling, Zoya felt dizzy and exhausted when she finally sat in the car for their return journey to Najafgarh.
Shahzeb helped her by gripping her right shoulder and escorted her to the main lounge. Saba, Bilal and amma were already present there and having their post evening prayer refreshments.
“Salaam, beautiful people.” Shahzeb loudly sent greetings to all of them. Zoya did the same but her voice was dull and low after the hectic day.
Saba stood up and moved forward to greet them. She took Zoya’s wrist in her palm and made her sit on the nearest deewan.
“What happened to her Shahzeb? Zoya, are you feeling ill darling?” Saba asked frightfully. Her eyes were scanning Zoya closely, who was sitting on the deewan, still holding her wobbly head in her hands.
“Apa, I think she is a bit exhausted, that’s all. Although she was complaining of dizziness before in the car too; must be from traveling in the tormenting Delhi traffic.” Shahzeb took the situation next to Bilal, and carelessly freed his feet from his sports gear.
Bilal giggled like a naughty school boy. He was observing the young couple intently, and was surprised to see Shahzeb looking helplessly at Zoya.
Shahzeb glared at him on his mischief with narrowed eyes. “Why are you giggling like girls?” he asked annoyingly. He was so tired; he couldn’t comprehend the reason behind Bilal’s unnecessary childish behavior.
“I was just wondering what got you hooked to her, and why it took five years.” Bilal whispered in Shahzeb’s ear. His youthful face was still masked with a mischievous glint.
It took Shahzeb just a few seconds to comprehend that the young lad was actually teasing him for his affection for Zoya. Shahzeb took his hand into his strong grip, and twisted his ring finger upward. Bilal shrieked with pain.
“Aahhhh…muumuu…Momm…” he sprang from his spot and in agony called Saba to his rescue.
Saba was sitting on the deewan with Zoya, giving her a large glass of almond shake; which she had ordered the maid to prepare for her beforehand. She looked at her son and Shahzeb, sitting on the same couch. Bilal was now on his knees in front of Shahzeb, holding his hands in his free one to keep his uncle at bay.
“What is cooking between you two?” Saba asked smilingly to both of them. Shahzeb freed his nephew from his tight grip.
“Apa, this boy has no respect for his elders. He treats me as if I am one of his friends and jests with me.” Shahzeb complained to his sister, while his face was glowing with the abundance of love of his nephew who was actually more like a little brother to him. Bilal was the only one who pestered Shahzeb and played pranks on him. And Shahzeb loved his playful witty nephew to the core.