Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating(10)

Dee’s the kind of person who likes to keep the peace, so she lets us peter out into silence as we walk. Pretty soon, we’re at the bus stop. According to the Real Time Information, the bus is only five minutes away.

“Look …” I say as we come to a stop. Normally I would let things go, but this feels too big. Other than my parents, I haven’t told anyone I’m bisexual … until now. Aisling can’t just pretend that I’m not because I haven’t kissed any girls. “I would really appreciate if you guys could just give me some space about this. I’m still trying to figure stuff out, how to tell people, and what exactly I feel and—”

“How can you know and still be figuring stuff out?” Aisling folds her arms together and raises an eyebrow. Like everyone who has some knowledge has figured all things out.


“Aisling, I think you’re being a little insensitive.” Dee finally speaks, interrupting me. Aisling takes a step back, turning her raised eyebrow to Dee. If she expected Dee to take anyone’s side, it was probably hers. “But … Maira, you have to admit, Aisling is kind of right, even if she hasn’t said it in the best way. It just sounds like you’re confused and you don’t even know what or who you want. You can’t really take out your frustration about that on us.”

“I’m not—”

“I know.” Dee’s voice is soothing, like she’s speaking to a child who has acted out. “And I get it. But … you probably shouldn’t go about telling people you’re bisexual when you don’t have any experience. Hell, even I’ve kissed a girl, and I know I’m not gay. It’s just a little demeaning if—”

“Actually, I have kissed girls. A girl, I mean.” For a moment, I don’t even know who spoke those words. I only realize it was me from the stunned expressions on Dee and Aisling’s faces. The words came out of my mouth, and Dee and Aisling definitely heard them. I just don’t know where they came from. “I … am actually seeing someone.” This time, I say it slower. Choosing my words. Not letting my heart—or rather my anger—speak for me. “It’s just … new, so … we’re not really telling people.”

Aisling’s expression changes from shock to anger. “And who is this girl you’re dating?”

I search around in my head for names. If it’s someone they don’t know, someone they can’t search up on Instagram, they’ll know I’m lying, and then I’ll be back to square one.

Before I can think too much about it, my mouth forms the words, “My girlfriend is Ishita Dey.”

“You’re home early for a Friday,” Amma says when I slip inside the house later that evening. “I thought you were going to a movie with your friends?”

“I was … I did. I wasn’t feeling great, so I came home,” I mumble, taking my shoes off and hanging my coat up.

I’m about to go up to my room when Amma reaches out a hand to stop me. She takes me in with a frown on her lips.

“Are you okay, Hani?”

Coming home to my mother’s voice saying Hani after a whole day of being called Maira always feels strange. Like stepping out of a skin that belongs to me but doesn’t quite fit. Hani is the name that Amma and Abba have been calling me for as long as I remember. It’s the name that feels like me. Humaira is just the name on my passport, my birth certificate. The name given to people who aren’t family, who aren’t Bengali. And Maira … that’s just what Aisling decided to call me on the first day we met in junior infants. And it stuck.

“I’m okay, Amma,” I say.

“Did you get into a fight with your friends?” I don’t know how she knows. It must be a Mom-sense thing. “I’ll make us some cha and we can talk about it?”

This is something that Amma and I do sometimes. When she’s feeling down or I’m feeling down, we make cha, sit in a bed under the covers and talk about what’s bothering us. Or sometimes about nothing much at all, really.

“Okay,” I say. “Let’s have some cha.”

After changing into our PJs, Amma and I get into my bed with warm cha in our hands. Abba is already sound asleep since he has a meeting early in the morning and has to be up at the crack of dawn. He’s been working so hard to be elected councilor that I feel like I hardly see him.

“So … are we talking about it or are we not talking about it?” Amma asks, sipping her tea with one hand and wrapping her other arm around me. “Because we can just drink cha in silence, if you want.”

I heave a sigh. I trust Amma with my life. Even though I tell Aisling and Dee that they’re my best friends, it’s really Amma who’s my best friend. She gave up her job when she was pregnant with me—and she never went back to it. She says she has no regrets. Instead of working, she spends her time leading the PTA, which she says she does mostly because she wants to keep me close.

But if I tell Amma that I’ve lied to my friends about dating Ishita, she’ll probably say I should tell them the truth. Fix things with honesty and integrity. Rubbish that I definitely don’t want to hear—or do.

I take a slow sip of my tea before clearing my throat.

“I went to the movies with Aisling and Dee, but they were trying to set me up with some guy their boyfriends know.”

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