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 deception...no 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 see...one 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.
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 :)