(Read Episode 1).
When I got home, I went straight to Facebook, searching friends of friends, until I found a picture she had been tagged in. I followed the link until I reached her Facebook profile- Aisha Chowdhury. Men, did she look good?! I stared and stared at her pictures in everywhere; Atlanta, London, Ontario, the views looking almost as good as she did. On pictures I could assimilate her features, all of them, looking so good that I began to convince myself to tone down its sapiosexuality just this once. I thought and rethought of sending a friend request, and then I decided not to. I ran to the kitchen and microwaved what was left of the Biryani my mom had made. Too much ghee I thought as I swallowed, why will this woman not leave Bangladeshi cuisines for Bangladeshis to make? Couldn’t she just get it from an eatery, or better yet, just make something she could, like uhm hotpot or cornchaff?! I left the half-eaten plate of rice on the sink slab and went back to my room after drinking a little too much water.
In class the teacher was talking jazz. His words metamorphosed into tiny birds that flew right above my head. What did an English major like me need Statistics for? I sighed and sighed, and then I looked at the wall clock for the umpteenth time; almost a minute had gone by from the last time I checked. I sighed some more. The raucousness of my phone’s ringing cut into Farukkh sir’s red balls and blue balls lecture. The class turned to look at me, and I felt in just one feeling, both embarrassment and amusement. I excused myself out of class feigning urgency. It was just Zayeed.
Where are you? His message read; Hope you are bringing someone to the party tomorrow.
My friends were tired of me not bringing anyone to the parties we went to. It wasn’t a big deal according to me; I had fun with the girls I met there. In fact, it was more fun, meeting someone new at a party.
Dude, I’m in class. These lectures are killing me. Meet after class?
Yeah, at the podium. I’m there with Sharuf.
The Podium was where we all went to hangout. Students paraded, and some sat in clusters and cliques, with cigarettes, and books and plastic cups of soft drinks, and plastic plates of cold cafeteria food. I had a cup of fizzing lemonade, and my boys were waving at me from a corner, each holding a cigarette and a cup of Pepsi. “Cigarette?” Sharuf asked when I got there.
“So the party-“ Zayeed said excitedly. “I have got tickets for six. So each one of us and a chick.” He was looking at me, with eyes that said he was talking not generally, but specifically to me.
“What?” I jarred, “I may not even be for this one.”
“No no no” he was shaking his head frantically
“Man, I have an assignment due Sunday. Today is Friday, and I don’t know anything in the topic.”
“Aren’t you like the best student in your class? Just do the assignment today and we party tomorrow.” He looked at me as if to say he didn’t believe he had to explain that, and then added; “Wait, refusing to go to a party at Westin over an assignment? Yannick Tita you are so lame; how are you my friend?” he quipped and we all laughed.
“I am smart, but I don’t know everything. As a matter of fact, I don’t know anything about Probability.”
“Isn’t that Math?” Sharuf asked
“Good guess Sharuf.” I joked and we laughed again; Sharuf almost choking on his cigarette, and I knew from the slight raise of his eyebrow, Zayeed was quietly thinking the same thing I was- it isn’t that funny.
“What is an English major going to do with Math?” Zayeed said passively, sipping his soda. “Exactly what I said! Plus this assignment is part of the final grade, so I can’t not do it.”
“Two negatives in a sentence? That is so English student.” Sharuf said blowing out his last puff in rings, before throwing the glowing butt under his sneakers and squashing.
“I know someone in Engineering who will do the assignment for you if she has time. She’s a genius!” And without letting me say a thing, Zayeed excused himself to make a call- the call. He came back smiling. “She’s on campus now, but she’ll only be free in about twenty minutes. Meanwhile you make your calls.”
“Yeah, to the girl you are bringing.”
“Why do I need to bring a girl?”
“Because I have seen what you do. You go alone and then you hustle off the girls other guys struggled to take there. I almost got into a fight with Saiful bhai the last time because of you, remember?” His face had hardened slightly, as if someone splashed a drop of seriousness over it. He looked at me as if he was waiting for a defense statement, as if he needed me to explain what I was doing with the senior’s girlfriend; as if we had not talked about it the night it of the party.
“Don’t say hustle.” I said instead; “Never say hustle.”
“It sounds really wrong coming out of your Brown Asian mouth. I know you think you are Black on the inside, but-”
“What the-” he looked in amused confusion, “racist bastard,” he said, and we all cracked up heartily. But I knew I had to call someone, so I called Bishrat; the only girl who did almost as good as I did in class; pretty but had nothing on Aisha. She couldn’t make it. She was Farukkh sir’s T.A, and according to her she had midterms and assignments he had given her to correct, and so she could not go out. Same excuse she gave the last time, and the time before that. She wasn’t lying though; I don’t think so; being a T.A could be so demanding; exactly why I didn’t even apply. Although I sometimes thought of the pay and privileges, and wished I did.
About twenty five minutes later, Zayeed got a text, and he asked us to come with him to the library. It was the person who was supposed to do my assignment for me. If she is pretty, I thought, maybe I’ll ask her to the party as a payback for the favor- the very deserved good turn that came from the first one.
The library was quiet as usual when we got there, with students sitting in front of books that looked too big for them, in concentrations that looked too tight for their soft faces. I walked with Sharuf directly behind Zayeed as he strode ahead; it was his friend after all. I had thought something familiar about the back of the person we were walking towards; and I wished now I was wrong, for when she turned and said “hiii,” it was the high-pitched, sing-song voice I had been chatting with yesterday; the ‘genius’ we were standing in front of, was Aisha.
-by Howard B Maximus
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