The vacations were over, schools were reopening, shops were buzzing with children and their parent’s buying shoes, uniforms and ribbons etc for the new semester. Zoya and her mother with her younger brother in tow were also out in the market. For a five-year-old and only couple of years younger to her, he was very naughty. She had a watchful eye on him.

“The usual stuff, right…” asked the shopkeeper to Zoya’s mother. He had started packing the items before getting an answer.

“Pack those Starfruits also, hope they are fresh…the kids should like it” Zoya heard her mother saying to the shopkeeper. The seasonal star shaped fruit had a sweet n sour taste when smeared with salt and chilly powder.

Zoya couldn’t wait for the vacations to get over as she will be meeting her dearest friend Annie from standard three after almost two months. Not a day passed by that they didn’t meet at recess to play and talk endlessly. Annie had told her that she was going abroad for vacation with family. Zoya went to bed thinking of the many stories Annie will have to say when she meets her tomorrow.

The recess bell went off, the gates opened and all the kids rushed to the playground. Zoya’s eyes scanned for Annie and there she was running towards her. Annie was in a new uniform and brand new shiny black shoes. They hugged each other and Annie started packing in all her travel details in that 10 min break she had.

“You know there is a giant Lion statue with a body of a fish in this park with water coming from his mouth…it was so magnificent” Zoya was trying to imagine what Annie was describing in detail.

“I brought you a key chain and some chocolates from there”. Annie took out a box from her uniform pocket and gave it to Zoya. She was ecstatic beyond words getting them and hugged her tightly.

“Wait, I have something for you too” …saying that Zoya unclasped herself and rushed to get them

“Zoya, the bell will ring now”

“I will come back soon, wait”. Zoya ran past the school gate to a lady sitting outside the school gates with a thela full of small plastic packets filled with Amla, Kairi, Bor, Imli, and other sour treats.

“Ammi, please cut some of those Star Fruits in a paper fast, I want to give it to Annie. Don’t put the chilly powder on it, just salt”

“Where were you, look after your brother, he is not sitting still” Zoya’s mother was worried of the vehicles passing by while packing the savories to the students nearby.

The bell buzzed and the recess was over, Zoya rushed back finding the gates closed but Annie was waiting on the other side with her hands stretched outside the gates grill to receive her friend’s gift.

“Back to your class, girl”, yelled the gatekeeper to Annie.

Sitting beside her mother, Zoya pulled her brother and kept him on her lap while waving back to Annie who was returning to her class.

Zoya showed the key chain to her mother. The Lion on the Key chain was indeed magnificent.