That’s what was surrounding her.
Her rapid breaths resonated in that eerie forest while she gazed around to look for an exit from the dreadful place. She knew that place and also remembered exactly what had happened, that was the reason why she was frantically searching for the exit.
Help! She wanted to scream but her throat was clogged.
She wanted to run fast but she felt her legs were rooted to the ground.
She wanted to close her eyes, yet she couldn’t blink.
There was no body-mind coordination in her as if she was forced to see what was bound to happen next.
Suddenly the silence of the forest was shaken by a blast and she flinched horribly falling on the ground. An enormous fire was spreading across from all her sides and was soon approaching her. The blazing heat from it was suffocating her and she started coughing, the enraged fire was engulfing everything that was coming in its way and as soon as it touched her she let out a shattering scream.
She could smell the burning of flesh.
“Ziniya, wake up!”
The copper smell of blood was making her nauseated.
Ziniya jerked up from her nightmare drenched in sweat with labored breathing. She abruptly sat up and looked around in search of her mother.
“Ziniya, I’m here,” a shaky voice got her attention and she immediately hugged its owner with a sob.
“Ma!” she started crying hysterically with closed eyes.
“The same nightmare?” her mother asked, to which she could only nod.
“I thought it was gone with your treatment,” Afroz was caressing her daughter’s head gently.
“I don’t know. I….I…..” Ziniya said with a stutter.
“Zini, it was just a dream,” she said, seeing her daughter shivering in fear.
“It was my past,” she whispered before adding, “and it will never leave me.”
“Remember what your therapist told you unless you let go of it, it will keep haunting you,” Afroz said.
“It’s been three years Ma, even I want to get rid of it. It's been months since I had them but tonight, I don’t know why I saw it again. I feel….” Ziniya pulled away from her mother before saying, “like something is going to happen.”
“Zini,” her mother brushed her hair away from her face and said, “your therapist told me, trauma and stress go side by side, your office stress is taking a toll on you. Learn to control your stress and don’t miss your medication. I see lately you are skipping them.”
“Maybe you are right,” she murmured.
“I will tell your father you are alright, he panicked when he heard you screaming,” her mother said.
“Can….can you sleep with me?” Ziniya asked.
“Of course, before that, I will inform your impatient father, I’m sure he is already calling for an ambulance by now.” Afroz sighs and left the room.
“Ma is right, it’s my past, I can’t let it control me,” Ziniya whispered to herself and laid on the bed. She knew unless she took a sleeping pill she won’t go back to sleep and she didn’t want to get used to them.
While she tossed and turned in her bed, at the other side of the world, a man was gazing at the sky holding a cigarette between his long fingers, looking lost. His emerald accusatory orbs looking towards the sky. His lonely figure stood at the terrace with his one hand resting on the railing and the other holding the burning cigarette. The night’s breeze tousling his hair, his cold face void of any emotions unlike his eyes, which were holding millions of emotions.
Kabir Hashmi, 25 years old son of business tycoon Amaan Hashmi. Who had the world at his feet yet here he was alone in his mansion, away from the limelight. Like his father, he was not fond of getting clicked by the paparazzi and was living his mysterious life away from the attention. A playboy, known only in his friend's circle, leading a life his father despised off.
“Kabir?” Ayaan’s voice brought him out of the trance.
“I’m here,” he said with a raised voice.
“Do me a favor and call Momma, she is worried about you,” Ayaan said with a defeated sigh.
“I will, the day I achieve what I want I will talk to Momma,” Kabir said in between a long drag from his cigarette.
I know you are worried for me Momma, but I’m sure you won’t like what I’m going to do. It’s better I talk to you once I get what I want, Kabir thought.
“You know Dad doesn't like smoking and drinking, and yet here you are,” Ayaan said standing beside Kabir and taking away the leftover cigarette before crushing it in the ashtray.
“Well, he never likes what I do so it’s not a new thing for me,” Kabir replied.
“You misunderstood him, he wants good for you. He doesn’t like your lifestyle, parties, drinking, involving with women and even you know that,” Ayaan said and they were back to discussing the same topic again.
As if he cares about me or my life, Kabir couldn’t stop but think.
“Either you tell me what I want to hear or you can get out of here,” came his reply.
“In case you forget I stay here,” Ayaan replied.
“Don’t you think I know Momma made you stay with me?” Kabir said with a raised brow.
Kabir grew up to be like his father, the same eyes, dimples, and sharp nose however, his angular jawline distinguished him from his father, and not to forget his biological mother’s stubbornness.
“Wrong, I stay here because Ammi is staying with you,” he retorted.
“And Aminah Ma is not staying here because Momma didn’t request her?” Kabir said, crossing his arms over his chest.
Ayaan sighs and raises his head in surrender, “If you are done with your interrogation, can I discuss the information you were looking for?”
“You found her?” Kabir asked.
“Aren't you here in another city to find her?” Ayaan said before passing the file and said, “Her details.”