Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀
Hope you guys are well. 🌸
Apologies for the delayed post. Been a hectic few days and that’s why I’ve decided to trash the idea of a schedule for a little while. Posts will go up whenever I can manage. There will still be weekly posts, Insha Allah, just not on a specific day.
Troubled Illusioner. ❤
As narrated by Dee:
“So what you’re saying is, I must just pitch up at the restaurant where she works?” I ask Zee, a small frown on my forehead.
We’re outside, under the big tree in Zee’s backyard.
Somehow we always end up sitting here when we need to talk.
The yard is huge, and the tree is far from the house, its branches overlooking the pool, making it a quiet, peaceful spot.
We’d often climb the branches as kids – Amz, Meez, Zee and I – seek at its trunk when playing hide and seek, and eat our lunch under its shade.
It had silently watched over us as we gradually grew from kids to teenagers and soon, adults.
It knew our hushed secrets, silent tears, and inside jokes.
This tree had our backs.
Sometimes quite literally, I thought, as I looked at Zee who sat leaning against its trunk.
“Yeah,” he replies, pushing his long, messy hair away from his forehead.
“Look, right, you have the fact that you’ll look identical to your advantage. If you make your way in through the back door, no one will look at you twice. Walk up to Dayyanah, say hi and start washing the dishes alongside her,” he says, as if it’s as easy as pie.
I look at him incredulously.
“You do know it’s not going to be as easy as you make it sound, right?” I ask, rolling my eyes.
“There’s no harm in giving it a shot. Who knows, it might even be easier,” he says, shrugging.
“What if she reacts really badly and we make a big scene like last time?” I ask, standing up and stretching.
Zee winces slightly, remembering the last time we’d been at that restaurant, unknowing to the fact that Dayy worked there.
“Just the two of us and Amz will go,” he says, his eyes following me as I pace in front of him. “We’ll outline the plan properly before we leave.”
I stop, looking out at the sparkling blue pool, my back to Zee.
“What do you say?” he asks after a long moment of me being silent.
“I… I don’t know, Zee,” I say, turning around to face him. “What if it all goes wrong?”
“You stress too much,” he says, shaking his head.
I sigh, sitting back down on the grass.
“Isn’t there any other way?” I ask, frustration creeping in.
Zee’s phone rings then, stopping him from saying what he was about to.
“Mr Varachia,” he answers. “How you doing, bro?”
“Naah, Dee’s around. Come over.”
“Yeah, okay, you can pick me up.”
“Alright, check you later. Salaams.”
Disconnecting the call, Zee opens his WhatsApp.
“Amz is checking up on you,” he says with a grin, glancing up at me before typing.
“What she says?” I ask, pulling out my own phone from my pocket.
“Dee’s by you?” he reads her message aloud.
“She never messaged me,” I say, rolling my eyes. “She’s got that stupid mysterious aura again. Going out for “work” and refusing to tell me what’s up. If she has a damn boyfriend, she just has to tell me.”
Zee is watching me with a grin.
“It’s not funny!” I huff, realizing.
“You already sound jealous and you don’t even know if it’s a boyfriend yet,” he says with a laugh.
“I’m not jealous! It’s just irritating!” I say, rolling my eyes.
“Maybe she’s organizing another adoption plan.”
I freeze, my irritation dropping and immediately being replaced by shock.
Then Zee’s laugh cuts through my panic, shattering it as I realize that he’s just messing with me.
“Damn you, Zee! It’s not funny!” I say, shoving him in the chest before getting up.
He grabs my wrist, preventing me from walking away.
“You’re hilarious, oh my god,” he says with a grin, shaking his head.
I turn my back to him, trying to yank my hand out of his hold.
“You need to relax, Dee,” he says, tightening his grip on my wrist, making it impossible for me to get away.
“You know she scratched that idea and tossed it in the rubbish dump,” he says, and I can still hear a hint of amusement in his voice.
“You’re an idiot,” I say, still not looking at him.
“Come here,” he says, tugging at my hand. “Stop being grumpy.”
“No,” I say. “Let me go.”
To my surprise he does.
“Just remembered,” he says, walking past me. “I have just the right thing to take away your moodiness.”
He disappears into the house, and I lay down on the grass.
Trying to rid my mind of what Amz might be planning, I wonder what Zee’s up to.
He appears a moment later, a bowl in one hand, two spoons in the other.
“Chocolate mousse!” he says with a grin, handing it to me with a spoon.
“Oh my god!” I gasp, reaching for the bowl, all irritation gone.
Digging in immediately, I moan.
“This is amazing, oh my god. I love you,” I say, the velvety, chocolate infused mousse making my taste buds go wild with happiness.
“You’re welcome. I love you too,” Zee says with a laugh.
Having momentarily forgotten about him, I look up.
“I was talking to the chocolate mousse, not you,” I say, deadpanned.
Then I see his spoon heading for the bowl.
“No!” I exclaim, holding my hand high up. “Don’t. you. dare!”
“Excuse me!” he says, looking at me in amusement.
“That’s my dessert which I am sharing with you,” he says, reaching for the bowl again.
“No, no, no!” I say, getting to my feet hurriedly. “It’s mine. And I don’t share chocolate mousse.”
A grin on his face, he watches me eat my way through the whole bowl of chocolate mousse.
“I put two servings in there,” he says. “You’ll get fat if you eat all yourself.”
I consider him for a moment before going back to my dessert.
“Do you not care?!”
“Does it look like I care?” I reply, rolling my eyes, as I savour the last few bites.
He laughs again, and all moodiness from earlier forgotten, I grin.
“Only because I’m such a lovely considerate person,” I say, passing him the bowl. “You can have the last bite.”
“No, it’s alright, you have it. I don’t really want,” he says, rejecting the bowl.
I give him a moment to change his mind, but when he doesn’t, I shrug, withdrawing my hand.
“Your loss,” I say, spooning the last bite into my mouth and closing my eyes in satisfaction.
“What’d Meez say?” I ask, after a moment of silence.
“Stop making nazr on my dessert,” I add a moment later, noticing Zee’s gaze fixated on me. “I offered you.”
He smirks before answering my question.
“There’s some program he’s going for. So he asked if I want to join.”
“Oh. What program?” I ask, placing the bowl on the grass beside me.
“He didn’t say.”
“How’s he doing? I haven’t seen him out of school in a while, and we’re always busy in school.”
“Surprisingly good,” replies Zee, placing his hands on the grass behind him and leaning on them. “Something’s changed in him since everything happened but it’s a good change.”
“Yeah?” I say. “That’s good.”
“Let’s hope it sticks. You know Meez and his relationship with change lasts as long as my sour gums do.”
I smile a small smile at the comparison, thinking about Meez.
“I can’t imagine how he’s made it this far in one piece to be honest,” I say, deep in thought. “He’s so strong.”
“So are you,” Zee says quietly, his tone serious. “I can’t imagine how you’ve made it this far in one piece, as well.”
I’m silent, not saying anything.
Sometimes I wonder too, how it’s possible to be fed to the lions and still come out alive.
Thing is, while you may come out alive, you don’t come out unscathed.
You come out bruised and battered, and the scars remain.
And for the rare, lucky person, the wounds may heal, the scars may even fade, but the memories don’t.
They live on inside you, feeding at your happiness, your hopes, your dreams and ambitions.
The memories, they don’t ever fade.
Hearing a key turn in the lock, I drain my mug of coffee and pocket my phone.
I place my mug in the sink before making my way to the front to meet Amz.
“Assalaamu Alaykum,” she greets, smiling tiredly.
“Wa Alaykum Salaam,” I reply, smiling back. “How was your day.”
“Not too great,” she replies with a sigh.
I follow her into the dining room where she places her bag on the table.
I eye it, trying to be discreet.
But Amz notices.
“I’m not even going to hide it this time,” she says.
My heart drops to my toes.
“What do you mean?” I ask, trying to act nonchalant.
“I’m working on an adoption plan again…”