In the name of Allah, the Most Affectionate, the Most Merciful



The worst thing you can probably do to yourself when you're heartbroken is to watch a romantic movie.  It can only remind you of how things used to be and what you so badly wished things were like.

But that is exactly what I do when I return home that night.  Except I do have a cup of hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream to make things a little better.  And the mentality that movies are full of one actually lives happily ever after or ends up marrying their childhood or high school sweetheart 99% of the time.  Which again makes me wonder, why not?  Why does life have to be so cruel?  And then I end up curling even deeper into my bed as if to hide away from the cloud of misery floating above me. 

The phone ring interrupts my solemn thoughts and I pray that someone answers it before I have to get up from my cozy bed.  If it is Khala, she will probably be demanding help for last-minute tasks for Mariyam's wedding or tattle-taling about my boy adventures.  And if it is one of my many aunts and uncles from abroad, I know for a fact I will not be hanging up until after I have heard all their sad tales about the seemingly harsh life back home and how they are anxiously waiting for our gifts from Amreeka, which we have finely plucked from the tree of everlasting wealth.

If only there was a tree of everlasting love.  Maybe there is, somewhere in a fantasy or storybook.

Fortunately, the phone stops ringing and I slouch back on my pillow.  I spoke too soon, because only seconds later, I hear someone trying to open my locked door.  My family still does not understand the concept of privacy or knocking before entering.

"What is it?" I ask angrily from my bed.

"Maybe if you picked up your cell phone, you would know."

I hate when Humza speaks in puzzles.  My cell phone is lying next to me and it has taken all the effort to not look at it every ten seconds.  Or to scroll repeatedly through the four text messages a certain someone has left.

"I don't know what you're talking about."  I'm suddenly very tired, even though all the sugar from the hot chocolate should have me bouncing up and down the walls.

"Fine, I guess Tariq can chat with Ammi then," he says a little too loudly.

In a matter of seconds, I'm at my door and Humza blinks his eyes in surprise at me, our cordless house phone in his hand.  I make a move to grab it from him but he is too quick for me.  He is enjoying every minute of this.

"Humza, give it," I hiss.

"Actually, I think I might just tell Ammi what you're up to."  He pokes his head inside my bedroom but I block his view.  Even for a boy, Humza isn't that dumb to not figure out my current emotional status.

"Don't you dare,"  I say sternly.

"You owe me.  Big time."

I grab the phone from him and say into the mouthpiece, "Hang up.  I'm calling from my cell."  Humza raises his eyebrows at me when I shove the phone back into his hands.   

"I never knew you had the guts to talk to a--"

"Humza, my dear bhai," I say, gently pushing him away. "We'll talk later, okay?"

And then I shut the door, raise the volume of the TV, and settle into my bed with my cell phone.  I hesitate for a minute, thinking of Mariyam's words, of Ammi whose trust I was betraying.

Maybe this is the opportunity to break all ties with Tariq, to forget about my fantasies and to prevent myself from committing more sin.  After all, how long could I be with Tariq anyway?  What was our future together?  The day would have to come when we wouldn't be together and as difficult as it would be for that day to be today, it would be even harder if it was tomorrow.  

Maybe Tariq would laugh at me, think I was some extremist who couldn't even have a guy as a friend.  But, he is Muslim...he should understand.  He isn't that liberal..or maybe he is, especially if he was dancing with Anum like that.

I push away the raging battle in my head and call him.  There is no point in rehearsing words; I will let the conversation flow as it should.

"Not mad enough to ignore me after all, huh?" Tariq says.

No, I let myself get too close to you that even if I tried, I couldn't be mad for too long.

"You didn't give me much of a choice,"  I say instead, not bothering to hide my anger.  But the fact that he had called home means a lot to me.  It means that he still cares, still needs me the way I need him. 

"You didn't either," he says softly.

I close my eyes at the sound of his voice.  "You shouldn't have called home, Tariq.  That was a huge risk."

"But it worked."

"That's cause Humza picked up.  What if it was--?"

"I could have chatted with your parents, you know.  They do know me."  There's a hint of amusement in his voice and I roll my eyes.  It seems ages ago when he had accidentally stumbled into our home.  A part of me wishes to go back to that time when I didn't actually have feelings for him, but a part of me wants to relish in these new experiences.

"Where did you get my house number anyway?" I ask.

"The school directory, duh."

I sigh.  How could I forget?  I had only gone through the whole directory with Laila, Anum, and Farah for the past two years, circling the numbers of all the cute guys and working the nerve to prank call them.

"Tell me why you're mad."

"Oh, let' not pretend now."  I don't want to bring up this subject, but I need to let Tariq know that if he wants to have anything with me--whether it's friendship or something more--there were some expectations I had that he needed to respect.

He laughs.  The nerve of him to laugh!  If we were talking in person, I would have already punched him in the face.

"Fine, I'm hanging up." 

"Hey, don't.  Seriously, I don't know."

"Tariq, you were dancing with Anum."

There is silence for a couple seconds and then, "That's it?"

My mouth drops open and I can't believe my ears.  Either I have no experience with guys and I'm just figuring them out, or Tariq is really messing with me.

"That's it?  What the hell do you mean by that?" I yell at him.

"Calm down," he says and I can tell he is trying to suppress his laughter.

"No I can't, Tariq.  I don't understand you at all.  You were touching--"

"There's nothing between us," he cuts me off in a serious tone.  My heart drops.  "Me and Anum."

A joyous feeling rises within me and spreads all the way down to my toes.  Tariq had not fallen for Anum, and I would make sure she wouldn't steal him from me again. 

"You there?" he asks.

"Yeah."  I walk towards the mirror hanging on my bedroom wall and twist a strand of my hair around my finger.  "I want to believe that Tariq.  I want to believe that..."  That we're meant to be together.

"You're sounding way too philosophical for me.  Can we leave that for English tomorrow?"

"We don't have English together," I remind him.

"Well, we can."


"I have two rainchecks.  Let's for ice cream and one for a long run together."

So Tariq wants me to cut class to go out with him. Nice.  "Um...did you check the expiration date on those?"

"Oh right.  I forgot to check."

I tap my foot in amusement, smiling widely into the mirror.

"It says here that it's good for ninety days and as far as I can recall, it hasn't even been thirty days."

"Hmm...I guess I'll think about it."

But there is no need to dwell upon such a decision.  Already, I'm dreaming of him, of us.  And I push the small bit of guilt that weaves in between.  I don't let it build up, because if I do, it will threaten me, choke me until all happiness is drained from within me.


Hello readers!

First and foremost, I would like to convey a HUGE apology for being MIA for so long.  Although I don't like to say that medical school is my life, it has taken up a significant portion of my time.  It makes it more difficult to continue the story if I have been away from the story for so long myself.  That being said, I was hoping to wrap up this blog pretty soon.  However, as I sat down to read all the comments that have piled up over the past several months, I decided otherwise.  I realized that I have also gotten quite fond of Iman and all her desi-Muslim-American-teenage drama.  Insha'Allah (God Willing), I am hoping to write an entry once every month (and in advance, I apologize if there is a delay).

I do want to thank everyone for their enthusiasm and support.  Stories aren't of much use if they aren't read and reflected upon, are they?  Please continue to read and comment :)




I crumple the green tissue angrily.  I'm in no mood to be at Mariyam's house, helping her and her annoying mother--my Khala--to make favors for Mariyam's Nikah ceremony. 

"Less than two weeks left and my daughter will leave me," Khala laments.  I roll my eyes, but I'm thankful she hasn't brought up the boy subject yet.

"She's going to be happily married," I can't help but say.  It's comforting to know that Mariyam really likes her fiance but I would be terrified if I were in her situation. 

"Yes, and one day, it'll be your turn," Mariyam teases.

"Uh, that's not happening anytime soon," I reply quickly.  Tariq's face appears in my mind and something flutters in my stomach. 

"Well there's nothing wrong with getting married young.  It's a good thing in my opinion,"  Khala says, carefully counting dates and nuts to place in each favor bag.

"I didn't ask for your opinion," I mutter under my breath, avoiding Mariyam's glance.

"Look, beta, you're probably upset."  Her tone is sincere, which is surprising, but I have no forgiveness to offer.  "I saw what I saw and it is my duty to tell your mother and that is what I did.  She thinks it's a confusion, but--"

"Khala, you have no need to worry about me."  I don't want her to say anything more so I continue talking, dissolving her doubt with words.  "I don't have a boyfriend and I don't plan on having one." I clench my teeth.  I cannot stand the sight of her; she infuriates me.

"Ammi, we'll finish the rest now.  You should go rest," Mariyam suggests.  I breathe a sigh of relief when Khala leaves us both at the dining room table, her face pleased as though she has successfully taught an important lesson to a young child.

"Don't mind her or what your mother said, Iman.  They just care about you," Mariyam says when we are alone.

"God, not you too! I'm so sick of hearing this. I'm not a little girl."  I slam the scissors on the table and get up from my seat.  Something is happening to me and I can't describe what it is.  I feel ridiculed, dumb even because everyone feels the need to explain every little thing to me.  "I need to go home now," I say more quietly, my head turned away from Mariyam.

"Okay, I'll drop you off but calm down.  What's wrong?"  Mariyam gets up from where she is sitting and stands in front of me.  "Tell me.  You know I'm here for you," she says softly, placing her hand on my shoulder.

I roll my eyes, trying to hide my tears.  "You wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

I hesitate and then look into her eyes.  Mariyam has always been like an older sister to me; in this moment, I envy her for what I am not capable of being.  I can't bear to let her think of me as someone unworthy of her respect and love, so I simply say, "Mariyam, why is that there are some things in this life that we just can't do--the very things that can bring joy and happiness?  Why are there so many rules?"

There is curiosity in her eyes, but she does not ask me what this is about.  I appreciate that she is not prying like most other people are.  "Iman, there are some things that look really good to us at first, especially because Shaytan makes it appear so and everyone else seems to find joy in it also.  But Allah has created us, He knows us more than we know ourselves...That's why He has made some things permissible and other things not."

I shake my head.  I heard this many times before; all I want is to be with Tariq without feeling guilty.  All I want is not feel as though it is a sin, to live in a secret that is too exhausting to carry on.  "I don't buy it.  It doesn't make sense.  It almost feels like a prison."

"Is it a boy?" Mariyam asks quietly, studying my face.  My skin feels hot and I can't meet her eyes.  "You don't have to tell me if you're not comfortable," she adds when I don't say anything.

I want to pour my feelings out to her, but something is holding me back.  I know what she will tell me.  That I have to give him up, that I can't talk to him anymore, shouldn't even look at him.  And I'm not ready to make that sacrifice.

"You already know we don't date.  People think we're weird not to, but trust me.  You have just to be patient.  One day, you'll be engaged like I am and it will the most beautiful moment in your life.  What you're feeling now is nothing compared to what it will be like."

I shake my head stubbornly.  "I--I just don't see what's wrong with it.  I--" The words come out fumbled.  "I--I should go home...I want to be alone."

I walk out before she has anything more to say.  "Please talk to me if you need to Iman.  You know I love you," she still says.

Mariyam's words linger in my head throughout the day, but I force them away just like I have removed Farah's stinging words.  I am upset at this world for being incomprehensible.  Why has Allah put love in my heart for Tariq when He does not permit it?

I feel restless at home.  Even Ammi miraculously has no housework for me to do.  Homework is sitting for me but I cannot focus.  Fortunately, Anum calls me over to her house to help practice a dance for her cousin's upcoming mehndi.  Why do I feel like everyone is getting married, all the time?

When I arrive at Anum's doorstep, there is Hindi music mixed with English lyrics blaring in her stereo.  I wonder if the neighbors are disturbed as I ring her doorbell.

A guy opens the door and I'm taken aback.  There is no way I am mistaken where Anum lives, although I can't say the same for her inviting guys over.  That had to mean one thing--her parents were not home.

"You're Anum's friend?" the guy asks, giving a cheesy smile while leaning against the door.  He is looking at me carefully, passing his eyes over me and I wonder what he is thinking.  Despite the hijab wrapped loosely around my head, I feel somewhat exposed.  It was a good thing Ammi didn't see me when I stepped out of the house.  

"Um, is Anum there?" I ask gingerly, feeling awkward.

"Yo, Anum.  Your cute friend is here."  He flashes me a smile while my cheek burns.  Cute?  Did he just have the nerve to call me cute?  I can't tell whether I feel ashamed or slightly delighted by the comment.  Anyway, it doesn't seem like anyone has heard him over the music.  "This way," he says and I'm grateful that he walks ahead of me instead of besides me.

I walk to a spacious room towards the back of Anum's house, where Anum's parents have kept exercising equipment, a flat screen TV, and a stereo system.  There are about eight or nine other people and I feel kind of alone.  All along, I had assumed it would have been just Anum and me.  But I was wrong to think that someone as popular as Anum would rely on me alone.

I look for Anum over the noise; no one has still acknowledged my presence and each second seems to drag.  When I spot her, I see that she has her hair tied up high in a ponytail and out of the way. She's wearing a T-shirt, hugging attractively to her skin.  Her mouth is open in sync with the lyrics and her eyes laughing.  But it's the way the boy next to her has his hands on her arm, touching her bare skin that freezes me in place.  They are moving together effortlessly in tune with the music, their eyes not leaving each other.

I step back, the tears building up.  I don't want to cry, all I want is to rewind these several minutes so the knowledge of betrayal is not there.  It does not upset me that Anum has invited boys over, or that she is dancing with them.  What upsets me, tears me apart, is who she is dancing with.

I turn to leave, but of course, that is exactly when Anum calls me.  I swallow my hurt, wipe away the tears and turn around, forcing a small smile on my face.

She grabs my hand, unaware of my emotions.  "Finally, you took forever.  C'mon."

"No," I say, pulling my hand away and she looks confused.  "I...I'm actually not feeling that well."  It takes all the effort that I can muster to not look at him, especially when he is so close.

"Is something wrong?" Anum asks.  I look into her eyes, both anger and sympathy rising simultaneously within me for her.  How could she be so oblivious to my feelings, my pain?  How blind could one be to know what is and isn't wrong?

"Of course not," I lie, my voice trembling.

And then he is standing next to me.  My body is confused, torn between wanting to stay and run.

"Hey Iman," Tariq says. His voice, as usual, has a pleasant ring to it.  Why did I ever let myself become attune to it?  "We could use your help."

"Help?" I ask, looking at Anum instead of him.  I try not to think that he, too, is unaware.  I had always imagined that love transcends everything, that the person you love is able to notice immediately your pain, the ability to recognize that you are hurt and need mending.  That one is able to let go of everything else for you, to never turn around and share it with somebody else.

"Yeah, for the mehndi dance.  We're still in the process of choreographing it."  Anum waves her hands while she speaks.  In that instant, I realize how distant we are.  We aren't the girls anymore who used to braid each other's hair, read Qur'an together, chase after each other and lick the sweet taste of kulfi while the sunshine poured over us.

I clear my throat, a bit more confident now.  "Anum, I need to go."  The tone of my voice makes her still.  Despite the chatter around us, something passes between us and I know she understands.  She looks away uncomfortably as Tariq speaks.

"But you just got here."

I turn my eyes to the floor.  Does it matter to you that I'm even here? the question remains unspoken.

"You guys can do without me," I simply say, meaning every word of it.  She doesn't try to stop me and Tariq hesitantly walks behind me as I turn to leave, waiting perhaps for me to say something.

"You look pale.  Are you feeling okay?" he asks, his hand touching my arm.  I jerk away at the touch, remembering how he had touched Anum only minutes earlier.

"I'm fine," I manage to say, avoiding his gaze.  "I want to be alone," I say for the second time that day.  And then I leave, unleashing the tears once again.


Daring and Deceiving

I inhale slowly, trying to calm my pounding heart but I feel suffocated.

"Ammi, I really don't know what you're talking about," I lie. Well, it's not exactly a lie.  She may be thinking about Tariq, but she may not be.  Then again, what other boy do I hang out?

"So, you think I'm making this up?" she asks, her hand on her hip.  "Tell me exactly where you were yesterday after school."  I avoid meeting her eyes.  I'm a terrible liar so I decide to tell the truth.

"At the park." It was a dumb idea, I know.  The weather was gorgeous and I had a childish desire to go on the swings so I persuaded Tariq to join along.   

"With who?" she interrogates.

I decide to play innocent.  "Ammi, I don't like your tone.  I was with Amy.  How can you accuse me like this?"

"You weren't with anyone else?" she asks, her brows coming together with that motherly expression.

"Ammi, I always listen to what you know I'm not that kind of girl.  It hurts when you treat me like this.  And Humza? You never tell him anything.  Why me?" 

I sniff, wiping away fake tears.

"Oh, Iman.  You always bring it back to Humza.  You're older, he's still young."

"Oh yeah?  He's still five, I know," I scoff.

"Look, maybe Khala is mistaken, but tell me the truth, Iman--"

"Khala? This is about Khala?  She's telling you fake rumors about me?" I yell.  Anger rises in my throat for Khala.  How dare she? She is not my mother and she has no right to pry.

"Just tell me, you weren't with a boy, were you?"

Instead of answering my mother's question, I'm thinking of how to seek revenge on Khala.  She's put me in this misery, after all.  And Mariyam--had she told Mariyam too?

"Are you listening to me?"  My mother is not going to give up so easily. It's a matter of our family reputation more than anything else.

"Ammi, how can I control who goes to the park?  Amy and I weren't the only ones there.  There were a bunch of other people, kids, boys, everyone.  But that doesn't mean I purposely went with a guy--I just can't believe this!"

I storm out of the room, hoping she buys it.  It's an awful thing to do; I don't want to lie to my mother.  But she would never understand.  If I told her how I felt about Tariq, she would never console me--she'd freak out before even giving me a chance to explain.  Who knows what the consequences would be?  Maybe she would have me transfer to another school, or worse, be home-schooled.  Or upon Khala's suggestion, she'd marry me off to some F.O.B. for good.  I shudder at the thought just as she comes in behind me in the kitchen.

"Iman, look.  I have a right to know, that's why I asked. Especially since your Khala just told me over the phone she saw you laughing with a boy yesterday."

"Laughing with a boy?  Is it a sin to laugh when there are boys around, Ammi?  I don't know why Khala is so concerned...she just doesn't like me and wants me--"

"Enough.  She's your elder and deserves your respect.  Anyway, I'll let her know what you told me but from now on, you need to be careful, Iman.  Today, it was her.  Tomorrow, it could be someone else."

"What?  So you're trying to say I can't even go to the park now?  Ammi, what is this?" I cry, but she has already left the room.  I'm angry when all I should be feeling is relief--relief that I was able to escape without any scars.

We are on the painting unit now in Mr. Hesser's art class.  It's a relief that the face sketching unit is over, especially after having Laila and I debate with him about how we wanted a different assignment.

Art is my favorite class.  Not that I'm much good at it, of course.  But because it's relaxing.  Mr. Hesser only lectures for five minutes at the beginning, then lets the radio go on in the background while he lets us do our art.  Laila, Tariq, and this other guy sits at our table and the fifty minutes often pass by without a single glance at the clock.

"Iman, why are you painting a shoe?" Tariq asks me while I wipe the sweat off my forehead.  I am awful at painting.

"Ugh, that is not a shoe!" I feel offended; a vase doesn't have much resemblance to a shoe, but maybe he's right.  I shove him on the shoulder anyway with my free hand.

"Ouch! You have some strong hands, woman," he says, but I know it hasn't hurt him.  Laila makes eye contact with me and her face is glowing like she's the one in love. 

"Oh, this is nothing," I tease and Tariq feigns a scared expression.  "You haven't seen me wrestling with Humza."

"Better watch out, Tariq.  Don't get Iman upset," Laila warns, winking at me.

A little while later, Tariq leans over to take a closer look at my painting so far.  He's inches away from me and I notice the small hairs on his chin.  I've become so comfortable around Tariq but there are times like these when he leaves my heart pounding.

"Don't ever become a painter," he says, slowly turning towards me.  There's some pink left on the paintbrush I'm holding and I quickly wave it across his right cheek.

"Hey! What the--" he tries to grab the paintbrush from my hand but ends up touching my waist instead.  I almost gasp but Mr. Hesser is a table away and eyes us like You're having way too much fun, get to work.

My cheeks feel hot and Tariq doesn't bother to wipe off the paint off his face.  Five minutes before class is about to end, we start cleaning up.  I'm at the sink when Tariq comes beside me, but he doesn't say a word.

"What?" I ask, unable to keep quiet.

"I'm waiting for you to wash out the mark you left," he says softly.

"Tariq!" I hiss.  "Wash it yourself!"  I quickly go back to my table, daydreaming what it would be like to do what he just asked me to.

"You guys are definitely hitting it on," Laila chirps softly, only so that I can hear.

"Laila." I give her a stern look.

"What? Can't wait to tell Anum and Farah how naughty you are, flirting with--"

"Don't you dare!  Farah will freak and I am not flirting."

"Oh really? And when did Farah become your Mom?"  I know Laila is just kidding, but there is some truth in her words.  I've been very bold around Tariq.  I guess that's what happens when you get close to someone.  And about Farah, well, that's the reason why I didn't bring up Tariq during lunch the next day, but he always comes up anyway.

"So I just found out my cousin is getting married to Tariq's second cousin," Anum announces.  My ears perk.  Oh man, can I be invited to the wedding too?

"How?" Laila asks.

"I was chatting with him last night and..."

I couldn't focus on what else she was saying.  Only the first couple words stuck in my head.  What was Anum doing, chatting with Tariq?

"Hey Iman, can you come with me for a sec?  I needed help with this assignment we had," Farah interrupts my thoughts.

"Huh?" I ask.

"Just come," she says and she takes me by the arm so I have no choice.  It's when we are down the hallway, away from all the noise that I realize what she's up to. 

"Iman, I know you're not going to like .what I have to say but I'm gonna say it anyway.  You're my friend, that's why."

She looks so earnest that even though I don't want to listen, I do and then make a mental note to ask Anum about that wedding she was talking about. 

"Look, I know when you're in class with Tariq, you don't have much of a choice, but I really think otherwise, you should stop hanging out with Tariq.  Just imagine--"

"You've told me this before, Farah and I don't think there's anything wrong with--"

"Do you honestly think it's okay, just laughing and flirting like that with him?  You were always the one to stay away from guys and suddenly you're..."

Now, I'm angry.  She has no right to accuse or interfere.  "Since when did I have to ask your permission to do something?  I never asked you to be my mother," I say through clenched teeth.

"I'm not," she says, a look of hurt evident on her face.  I roll my eyes and avoid her gaze.  "But if your mother knew, she would be so upset..."

"Farah, I just don't understand.  Just because no guy has given so much as a glance your way, why do you have to ruin it for me?" I blurt.  The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.  Tears spring in Farah's eyes as she stares at me in shock.  I look away, a part of me wanting to embrace her and say how sorry I am.  But my feet are glued to the floor.

"You've changed a lot.  I've lost my friend, Iman.  I really have," she manages to say quietly.

"Okay, then.  Let's end this friendship crap," I say before walking away.  I feel ugly in the inside, but there is no helping it.  I've done what I've done and there is no turning back. 

After my last class, I meet Tariq at his locker.  This has become our meeting place for a while now.  Sometimes, a couple of his friends hang out with him and I just wait for them to leave.  Being around a lot of guys isn't something I'm used to.  Being around one is definitely enough to take my breath away.

"Wanna go for some ice cream?" Tariq asks, swinging his locker door shut.

"Ooh, yum.  I haven't had some since the last family picnic party, I think."  I'm still feeling pretty glum after my fight with Farah.

"Lemme guess, your mom?" he asks as we walk side by side down the stairs.

"You bet." But then I see him grabbing his car keys and I'm wondering why.  "Wait, aren't we going to the ice cream parlor in the corner over there?"

"I'm so tired of that place.  I was thinking Oberweis."

I stop walking.  Suddenly, Ammi's words echo in my head.  "What? You don't...feel comfortable in the car with me?" Tariq asks. 

I shake my head quickly.  "No, of course not.  I just...I remembered I had to take Humza to his friend's house, but..." 

"But, you're such an awesome sis, you're not going to say no to him, right?" Tariq asks.  I'm trying to discern the look on his face.  Is it frustration, hurt, or something else?

"Tariq, you're not upset, are you?" I venture, placing my hand on his.  It feels so good I don't want to take my hand away.

"A little bit, Iman.  I thought you'd give me some time, you know?" he asks.  I can't figure if its his words or the way he is caressing the top of my hand with the pad of his thumb that's making me all hot and confused. 

"Okay, I promise.  The next time you plan something, I'll definitely come," I manage to say and he gives me one of those cute smiles.


"Promise," I assure him.  The next thing he does makes me turn dead still.  He puts his arms out, waiting for me to step towards him.  Okay, I've dreamed of embracing him, but...really?  I never thought he'd actually want me to.  I can't bear to think what he's thinking as I stare at him like some dumb clown so I sheepishly step towards him.

The moment we're touching, my heart's soaring I'm scared he can hear it.  It's a little awkward at first, but then I fit my face into the crook of his neck and inhale the cologne I've become so familiar with.  I shut away all other thoughts, embracing the moment and then we abruptly let go of each other since we're not the only ones in the parking lot.

"I'll see you tomorrow then?" he asks, tilting his head slightly.  He's so cute I don't want to stop looking at him.

"Of course," I say, a little flustered.

I can't stop smiling, even when reaching home and watching Rishta with Ammi instead of doing my homework.

"What are you so happy about?" Ammi asks.

"Oh, I was just thinking of Mariyam," I reply, having rehearsed it cause I know she'd ask me.  "She's so happy, getting engaged to Umair."

"Masha'Allah.  And well, don't worry.  It's not going to very long until we start finding someone for you too."

My eyes widen in horror, but Ammi's are glued to the T.V. screen, where everyone is dressed really fancy for a mehndi party. 

"Ammi, I'm still in high school.  Please."  I'm literally begging her, but Ammi just smiles and says okay.

I let my head lean against the soft cushion and close my eyes.  There's a romantic melody playing in the drama serial and I start humming to it.  I'm wondering how long I can keep this up, but then decide to stop worrying and just live in the moment.