As narrated by Arshad:
I had separated these pictures after looking at them more than one time just to be sure…
Me: look here (placing the pictures infront of them)
Zainab: is this…is this…(Staring at the picture)
They stared in complete disbelief…can you imagine how scared I was…I mean I was sorting out all these pictures alone!!
Five pictures out of the lot had silhouettes of someone…while we were having our picnic on top of the plateau where we had gone horse riding…I clicked this picture. In the background near the horses…there was a figure in white on a white horse…
I felt a chill run up my spine…
The third picture…which Maariah had taken of Nemo sitting on the long staircase looking at the sky through the massive glass windows…this figure was sitting across Nemo looking right at him!!!
The fourth picture was a picture that Aara had taken of Zainab with rollers in her hair…and this figure was sitting on the bed!!!
The fifth had to be the most chilling of them all…
It was our group photo that the butler had clicked for us just before we had left for our hike and this white figure was there also!! With its arm around Riza!!
Nemo:(eyes wide open) holy macaroni…she was parking with me on the stairs!! What the….
Zainab:(clearly freaked out) hello she was sitting on my bed!
Laeeka: while we were in the room!
Zainab: what if she was still there when we were sleeping…
Riza:( shakingly dusting his shoulder) she held my shoulder!!!
Everyone just stood glued to the spot…and looked at Ziyaad for answers.
Zee: (hesitating) this is unbelievable honestly…look guys I’ve hidden something from you all…the story that I had told you all about my grandfathers sister was a lie…she wasn’t my grandfathers sister…but the previous owners sister…I heard of it many times before but I thought that it was just an old folk tale around here (stammering and holding one of the pictures) I had no idea that it was real…I had no idea that the story wasn’t just a story and to think I come and stay here alone so often!
Ebie: (walking in) don’t talk crap man
Zee: Ebie look at these!
Aara:(trembling…and I could see that this wasn’t one of her pranks..I mean how could it be) what if…what if she’s standing right here now…
And if I say that we ran to our rooms to grab our stuff- would be a major major understatement! Because the speed at which we run up those stairs and ran back down with our bags, would give Michael Johnson a run for his money!
And to make things harder, all our vehicles were parked by the stables and the stables were all the way in the back!!
Zoheb: (worriedly rushing over to Aara with her bags) what’s wrong?
Aara: Zaara! Zaara is still inside!
Me: its just a plant Aara!
Aara: (snapping at me) it’s not just a plant!
Zoheb: (putting their bags down and holding Aara’s face) I’ll get Zaara
And he ran inside
Me: you are more worried about your plant than if that ghost attacks Zoheb!
Aara:(looking at Zoheb running in) just shut up Arshoo
Zoheb was back faster than he went in…with “Zaara” in his hand. Man was this dude crazy about her!
Nemo, Ebie,Immy and Riza were now at the front with all the vehicles and as we hurriedly walked over to throw our bags in….
Ziyaad burst out laughing!!!
Zee: SUCKERS!!! (And he clutched at his tummy and almost choked laughing…his face was as red as a tomato!)
Zee: now THIS is what you call payback! You should see the look on your faces!! Classic toooooo good!Aara and Ebrahim you see…he who laughs last…(And he burst out laughing again)
Ebie: (raising his eyebrow) he who laughs last what?
Zee: I dunno…look at me duh!
Nobody found it funny and everyone just stared at Zee :-p
Zee: whaaat come on…I morphed those pics okay…and THAT’S your final experience in this “haunted” mansion;)
Laeeka: you stupid fool!
Zee: chill Laeeks come on…it was funny!
Everyone purposely ignored Zee and started loading the boots…Nemo and I decided to make a round of the house to check if anyone had forgotten anything since we had left in such a rush AND we came back with Immy and Aara’s chargers, Maariah’s glasses, Zoheb’s jacket, Zainab’s hat, Laeeka’s belt…okay you get it.
Now…we had four 4×4’s infront of us..Riza’s, Zoheb’s, Ziyaad’s and Ebie’s…
Ebie: okay so who’s going with who? Don’t launch me… I’d love some company please;)
Zainab: (laughing ) okay Ebie, Arshad and I will jump in with you
What the wife decides…you just listen and agree..never argue or even hesitate. Fullstop.
Nemo: (jumping in the front seat of Ziyaad’s 4×4) Zee you and me
Zee: (getting into the drivers seat)shot dude!
Immy: Maariah and I will jump in with Reez…(Winking at Zoheb)
And Zoheb had this little grin on his face..
As narrated by Zoheb:
It was just me and her. And it felt weird..but a nice and warm and fuzzy weird. Ever since Aara told me that she loves me…we’ve never been alone together as such. And now we were…and we were silent.
And when she said that she loved me…it wasn’t just me and her..it was everyone!…I was now blushing so much that my face probably turned red! She fidgeted with her fingers…
Both of us together: (Me) are you…(She)Zoheb I
And we laughed for a second and then..
Both of us together: okay you first
Lol! And we laughed again and I motioned for her to carry on…
Aara: I can’t remember what I wanted to say now…
Me: (grinning…she was trying to back out) Zoheb I…(Trying to remind her)
Aara: (biting her lip and smiling) nothing
Me: (smiling to myself) okay..
Me: yes applepie..it’s okay…when you remember you can tell me
Aara: (sinking back into her seat) applepie again…
Me: sorry my doughnut
Aara:(now sitting up) doughnut!?!
Me: okay sorry my cheesecake (I was so enjoying myself)
Me: don’t like?…hmmm how about…my gajar halwa?
Aara: (raising her eyebrow) then you might as well just call me your pot of biryani!
Me: (I couldn’t take it anymore and I burst out laughing!) Come here…
And I pulled out the side pieces on both the front seats that made up the middle seat…making it a single long seat.. Motoring innovation at its best;) and Aara sat right next to me, put her head on my shoulder as I held her hand with my left hand. I slowed down into the left lane and stayed a safe distance behind Zee,Riza and Ebie. This weekend was going to be so difficult to spend any time with her because we were staying with her family…so I really wanted every moment of this drive to last forever.
Me: (softly) what did you want to tell me?
I could feel her smile against my shoulder as she kept silent for a few seconds before she said..
Aara: Zoheb…I wanted to thank you for climbing up the chain ladder with me…because those were by far…the best moments of my life yet (and she held my hand tighter)
Me: (squeezing her hand back) those were the best moments of my life too
And the flip flops were back with a bang! Because they were just doing what they do best inside me;)
But I was aching to hear those three words from her mouth again…with all this Maariah drama and my baby had to pretend as though nothing happened infront of Laeeka…I didn’t want to push her either
We were whispering to each other…yet we were alone…but even the whispering at this moment felt surreal!
Me: (whispering) hmmmm
Aara: (whispering back) I love you…
Flip flop flip flop…and my heart skipped a beat
Me: (whispering) say it again..
Aara: (I could feel her smile against me again) I love you…
Me: (couldn’t get anough) again…
Aara: (lifting her head up and kissing my cheek) I love you!
As narrated by Nemo:
I noticed that Zoheb seemed to fall behind…I could see his vehicle..but behind three other vehicles. And he moved into the left lane. Neat. Very neat Zoheb. No guesses for why that happened.
Zee: so what’s the deal with Aara and Zoheb?
Me: (this guy was too straightforward for his own good- which is why we got along so well;) ) didn’t you hear…he sings for her
Zee: (laughing) yeah that’s just crazy and weird and..not normal if you ask me! I would NEVER sing for my girl EVER!
Me: (laughing too) I probably would
Zee: so why didn’t you?
Zee: why didn’t you sing for Aara?
Me: let’s just say…I missed the boat
Zee: well you can always take a jetski and catch up you know;) it is NOT the end of the world!
Me: (raised eyebrow) what should I do?
Zee: (smug smile) whatever it takes
I looked at Ziyaad questioningly…he had a point though and I loved Aara very,very much..
Me: in cape town, Laeeka and Maariah tried to help…made me ignore Aara and act as though I didn’t need her but it didn’t work
Zee: (shocked) ofcourse it wouldn’t work DUMBASS! It would have pushed her away…and probably did- straight into Zoheb’s arms! Look, he’s a nice guy and all that but I knowww you and Aara…you and Aara are like you and Aara you know what I mean? You’re going to have to show her how you feel…tell her how you feel if need be just be straight up with her. Let her see “that” side of you. You my boy have mellowed up too much you need to be THE Nemo again!
Me: (sighing) well THE Nemo as you put it, was a jerk who got involved with the wrong company and ended up becoming a drug addict! There, I said it!
Zee: you’re joking right?
Me: nope…Aara and Riza used to pick me up from all the dodgy areas…my parents even took me away to Durbs for a while and then she came back for me…I put her through hell bro, but between Riza, Arshad and her…they rehabilitated me. I’m here because of them else I would have probably be lying in a gutter somewhere
Zee was quiet…he looked as though he was thinking hard, which was actually quite dangerous because it wasn’t his strong point!
Zee: but that’s it…you have a second chance…you’re fine now I mean I would never have thought that you were on drugs bro…life is short don’t lose your chance. It’s better to try and fail than not to try at all. Aara may be confused for a while but she rather be confused and then think and make a decision than not know at all. Think about it
Me: I have…a million times but I keep thinking about the past and…
Zee: that’s why it’s called the past dude…and that’s where it should stay! Riza,Arshad and Aara are so normal with you…come on don’t let the past hang over your head like an axe! And besides, while we’re in Durbs, I’m right by your side. Make a resolve to tell her within the next few days and just do it man…and don’t give me the whole “my friendship will be at risk” bullshit because you won’t have much of a friendship left if she marries Zoheb. And maybe you will find someone else but…I doubt you will ever find another Aara and you and I both know it
He was right. I had so many girlfriends. I have been around. I am 24 years old…I wasn’t a teenager, I knew what I wanted.
I closed my eyes…I didn’t want to hurt her.
Me: (remembering what it was that made me grin around that campfire) Ziyaad!!!
Zee: ey don’t scream man
Me: (laughing) I have an idea…maybe…Aara just needs to be shown that Zoheb isn’t exactly Mr.Perfect for her…coz you know…I think she’s got this image in her head that he does this and he does that..and she loves indian movies so it’s like in her head
Me: so what I’m saying is…show another side of him…in a nice way, call it a test of her love,…and show him the other side of her…test of his love.. so no one gets hurt..because I can’t hurt her
Zee: (grinning) nice way…yeaah there’s lots of nice ways to do the wrong things;)
Me: it wouldn’t essentially be wrong wrong now would it