As the phone rang, Hina considered if she would have the guts to ask for what she wanted. When Sameer picked up, she dove in headfirst.
“We left our conversation unfinished,” she said.
“I noticed,” Sameer said. “Though as your mother called you away, I couldn’t say anything about it at the time.”
“Would you like to continue it now?” Hina asked.
“I answered your phone call,” Sameer said, “Of course I want to talk to you.”
“Well, then,” Hina said. “What do you like to do in your spare time?”
Sameer laughed. “You still want to ask the same question?”
“Yes,” Hina said, “because I answered the question and you didn’t get to.”
“Ah, you don’t want me to be left out,” Sameer said.
“Especially out of questions like these, certainly not,” Hina said.
Sameer laughed again. “All right,” he said. “Though my answer may not be as interesting as yours.”
“I still want to hear it,” Hina said.
“I like to cycle in my spare time,” Sameer said. “I just put on my helmet and put in a few rounds of cycling along my usual routes. It’s really refreshing.”
“That sounds like fun,” Hina said. “Do you have a spare bicycle I could use?”
“Oh! You’d like to try it?” Sameer asked.
“Yeah, why not,” Hina said. “Are you surprised?”
“No, it was just a bit unexpected,” Sameer said. “I can think of the perfect cycling route for you. Somewhere less populated, where girls can cycle in peace.”
“You think I can’t handle crowds?” Hina asked, just to check his response.
“It’s not that,” Sameer said, “it’s just that I wouldn’t want people bothering you.”
“I’m not bothered by people,” Hina said.
“It’s just so much fun cycling along without a care in the world,” Sameer said. “Nothing should disturb that.”
Hina grinned. “You’re really into this, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Yeah, I am,” Sameer said. “You can tell?”
“You sound so enthusiastic,” Hina said.
“I can’t help it,” Sameer said.
“I think you’re an enthusiastic person in general,” Hina said.
“Oh? How so?” Sameer asked.
“You were serving us so energetically at the picnic,” Hina said.
“I think you didn’t expect to see me doing that, that’s why you’re bringing it up,” Sameer said.
“To be honest, no, I didn’t expect to see you serving us our food,” Hina said.
“I was just being a good host,” Sameer said. “Just like my mother raised me to do. I don’t even think twice about it now.”
“You are a good host,” Hina said. “Next time, it’ll be my turn.” She said this knowing full well that Ammi did not intend to invite Sameer’s family over for anything.
“I’ll look forward to it,” Sameer said. Hina reassured herself that she was not giving Sameer false hope, even though she herself felt quite hopeless that Ammi would agree. The conversation soon concluded. Hina ended the call and turned to face Ray.
“Now you should be all set,” Ray said.
“About what?” Hina asked.
“You’ve met Sameer now, you know what he looks like-” Ray began, but Hina interrupted him.
“I don’t know what he looks like!” she said.
Ray started at her. “What do you mean? Didn’t you see him at the picnic?”
“I didn’t get to look at him properly, no,” Hina said.
“You at least have some idea of what he looks like...” Ray’s voice trailed off in disbelief.
“I was paying too much attention to how I was sitting and speaking to notice what he looked like,” Hina said.
“This is a problem,” Ray said.
“It sure is!” Hina said.
“It’s a problem that can’t be solved over the phone,” Ray said. “You need to know what he looks like, at least!”
“I’ll leave it to you to solve that problem, as I won’t be asking Sameer to arrange another picnic any time soon,” Hina said.
Ray groaned. “You’re going to have to cooperate with me on this one,” he said. “You’re also going to have to pay attention. I can’t arrange something for you to meet Sameer again and then have you say you weren’t paying attention this time either.”
“I get it, I get it,” Hina said. “Relax.”
“Use those friends of yours,” Ray said. “Ask them how they got around to looking at their fiancés. I can’t believe I have to spell it out for you like this.”
“How would you look at your fiancée, then?” Hina asked.
Ray stared at her. “With my eyes, Hina,” he said simply.
“That doesn’t help at all,” Hina said.
“I don’t know how to help you,” Ray said.
“Fine. Give me some space and I’ll get the answer out of the girls quickly,” Hina said.
“Are you telling me to leave my own room? Go to your own room for your girly calls,” Ray said.
“Ah, whatever,” Hina said, popping out of Ray’s bed and making her way to her own room. In her own room, she set her phone aside and rolled into her bed. She had decided that she wasn’t going to ask the girls after all. “I know how to do things well enough by myself,” Hina said to herself. She picked up her phone and wrote a text to Sameer. “I’m always the one who calls you,” the text said. “Why don’t you call me next time?”
To be continued...