The next time Hina saw Ray, the mission to get Sameer’s cell number had been active for some time. Ray confirmed that he had not yet found the number, though he was pretty close. Hina went back to her room lost in thought.
It would be so nice to have Sameer’s number, she thought. She could ask him all sorts of questions. She could ask him what he thought about all sorts of topics. She could answer his questions. She wondered what he would want to ask her about. She wondered if she would be able to answer his questions properly. She wiped her sweaty hands on the back of a chair in her room and wondered how she was going to avoid sweaty hands during phone calls. Shaking herself, she told herself not to think too far ahead just yet. Ray would take his time to find the number, and then who knew how long it would take him to finally give it to her. Maybe Ray had some reservations about giving her the number. The thoughts swirled and swirled around in her head until she couldn’t take it anymore.
She picked up her phone to call Gohar and Amani. The group call swithed on and the three girls gathered in the online space between their respective cell phones.
“What do you think is the best thing to do first once I get a green light regarding calling Sameer?” Hina asked.
“Would your mother give you a green light for that?” Gohar asked. “Of course, the best thing to ask him is about his interests.”
“That’s so predictable, and of course I’m going to speak with him on the phone,” Hina said, bypassing the mention of her mother’s permission. “Something more interesting?”
Amani spoke. “You should look up some personality quizzes and run him through some of those. It can be very enlightening.”
“That would be too much for a first phone call,” Gohar said. “It would make him feel like you’re putting him through an interrogation on the first day. It’s OK to just talk normally.”
“Things to talk about are all well and good but,” Hina leaned forward and squeezed the phone in her hands, “what can I ask for? That’s worth thinking about.”
“Ask for?” Gohar sounded puzzled. “Are you going to try to be romantic and ask for the moon and the stars?”
“I think she’s going to be practical and ask for a first meeting,” Amani said. “Considering they’re engaged and all, it’s well overdue that they should meet.”
Hina grinned. “You read my mind, Amani,” she said. “That is exactly what I’m going to ask for.”
“Be careful what you wish for,” Amani said. “It might just come true.”
“I can handle my wishes, thank you very much,” Hina said.
“No need to be scared of what you want,” Gohar added.
Another week came and went without any progress in getting Sameer’s number and the time came for another group call with the girls. Hina wasn’t sure how to update them about her situation.
“Sameer is well and good and he sent his greetings to you girls,” Hina said.
“Oh! Starting the call with an update! You know what that means,” Gohar said.
“Spill,” Amani added.
“Spill what?” Hina asked.
“Let us know what went on between you two on the phone,” Amani said.
“Oh, that,” Hina said, while in the background her mind scrambled for ideas. “He just wanted to know that I was well and good,” she said finally.
“And?” Amani asked.
“He and I asked about each other’s families,” Hina said, trying to keep her voice even-toned.
“You know what,” Gohar said. “I’m not entirely convinced that you actually spoke with him.”
“What?” Hina felt herself crumble under the weight of Gohar’s statement.
“I think so too,” Amani said. “There’s no excitement in your voice, no tingles that come after a first phone call.”
“Are you just pretending you spoke to him?” Gohar asked point blank.
Hina sighed. “I tried,” she said.
“Tried what?” Amani asked.
“I tried to hold in my excitement about getting to talk to him, but then you girls just won’t take no for an answer,” said Hina.
“What are you talking about,” Amani said. “You hardly blushed once. How can you talk about a first phone call with a flat voice?”
“I am blushing, you just can’t see it because this is a voice call,” said Hina.
“Hina, you need to do better next time,” Gohar said.
“Next time, bring us a real phone call story,” Amani said. “It’s OK, we’ll only judge you a little bit for this time.”
“Like I care what you think,” Hina said.
Ray’s room was the first stop for Hina after this disaster of a phone call. Ray grinned and held up his phone. Hina stared at it.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“My phone now contains a contact, an important contact that you’ll want to snatch from me straightaway,” Ray said. “I had to look around all the way in an identity checking site to get it.”
“Did you get it?” Hina asked. “Did you get Sameer’s number?”
“Good thing you say his name now,” Ray said. “It will come in useful when you talk to him. Just a word of advice. Don’t call him at odd hours, tell him you got his number from me, and use your head. As long as you use your head, I trust you won’t pull off any major goofs.”
Hina pulled out her phone. “Send it to me,” she said. “Do you mind if I take the call right here?”
“In my room? In front of me? Don’t you mind?” Ray asked.
“I’d rather you listen in the background without talking while I put it on speakerphone,” Hina said. “I feel more comfortable that way.”
“Sure,” Ray said. “Whatever makes you feel comfortable.”
Hina looked down at the newly saved contact in her phone. “Now’s as good a time to call him as any,” she said, hitting the dial button.
To be continued...