Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating(11)

Amma takes a strand of my hair in her fingers and tucks it behind my ear gently. “And … that made you upset?”

“A little, I guess. I tried to explain to them that I don’t really want to date boys right now … and that brought up the whole bisexual thing and … they were weird about it.”

“Maybe they just need more time?” Amma offers. “It can take people time to process things.”

“You and Abba didn’t need time to process,” I say. “You hugged me and told me that you loved me and were proud of me and—”

“We did need time to process, Hani,” Amma says slowly. “We just processed on our own, not in front of you.”

“So … you were upset when I told you?” They were so accepting—like they had never expected me to be anything but bisexual. I never imagined that’s how things would go for us.

“We weren’t upset, but … we had to change our perceptions a little bit.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that … we had these ideas in our head about how things would look for you, and us, down the line, and we had to shift those ideas and make room for new ones.”

“Like … instead of a husband some time in the future, I might have a wife?” I ask.

“Yeah, things like that. And … about how we would deal with telling other family members. How they might react. But … we wanted to deal with that ourselves. Process it all with each other, so you didn’t have to worry about it.”

I never imagined that Amma and Abba had to go off and have conversations about these things. That they would be affected by my coming out in our community, and with our family.

“We could process on our time because we’re adults and we have three kids. We know how things work now. Your friends might need a little bit more time to figure these things out. Just … give them time and space. They’ll come around.”

“Okay.” I nod. After all, if my slightly conservative Bengali Muslim parents can get onboard with my bisexuality with very few questions asked, why couldn’t my white Irish friends?

chapter six



Reminding myself that I need to start setting that thing to silent—since Nik has decided she actually needs a sister now—I lean forward and pick up my phone from the bedside table.

The notification tab at the top of the phone shows that I have a message on Instagram. I shoot up to a sitting position, rub my eyes, and look at the screen a little more closely.

I don’t even remember having Instagram on my phone. I’m pretty sure the last time I put up a photo was at least a year ago, if not longer. I don’t use Instagram because I don’t care to see all the “aesthetic” photos that people put up there.

I pull down the notification tab expecting that a troll has managed to get through whatever filters Instagram has, but instead there’s a message from Humaira Khan, of all people.

Mairaisdreaming: hey, what’s up?

I stare at the message for much longer than I need to. Trying to process the fact that Humaira sent me a message. And that that is the message she sent. We barely ever talk. We’re definitely not friends, or even anything resembling friends.

I have a bad feeling in my gut even as I accept her message request.

Umm, what’s up with—

Before I can finish typing my message, a call request from Humaira starts up. Has she just been waiting around for me to see her message? Why is she calling me?

My finger hovers over the green accept button, slides to the red reject button … then back to accept.

Humaira’s face fills up my phone screen.

“Hey!” Her voice is too bright—like she’s putting it on for me. And she’s sitting by a window, where the sunlight filtering in makes her glow a little too much. She looks like an angel, with the sunshine forming a kind of halo around her cascading black hair.

“What the fuck do you want?” I rub my eyes again, stifling a yawn. I can only imagine what Humaira is thinking of me. I’m in my PJs with bed head.

“Good morning to you too, sunshine,” she says with a frown on her lips. “Has anyone ever told you that you curse a lot for a Bengali?”

I fix her with a small glare. “What does that even mean? Bengalis can curse a lot. Plus, I’m Irish too. Maybe I curse just the right amount for an Irish person, ever think of that?”

She rolls her eyes, but I can tell that she’s amused from the way her lips are twitching at the corners. “I’m calling because I …” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ears and looks to the side of my head, “… need your help.”

“Well, obviously. Help with what? Did you fail your biology test?”

“No!” she exclaims, finally meeting my gaze. “We didn’t even get back our results yet, but I’m pretty sure I did well on it.”

“Then what subject do you need my help with?”

She actually does smile this time. “Do you think everything is about school? Do you even have any hobbies outside of studying?”

“Studying is not a hobby,” I point out. “And if you want my help, you’re not doing a great job of warming me to your cause. Which I still don’t know anything about, by the way.”

Adiba Jaigirdar's Books