Sameen nearly stumbled in her rush, breezed past a corner, just about dodged an incoming pedestrian who yelled something about patience behind her, and only just relaxed when she could see the cafe’s sign fifty meters away.
She flew in, oblivious to the many disapproving looks aimed in her direction, seemed to telepathically know where her friends would be, honed in on them like a homing missile, sat down by forcing some space on the sofa into existence, and interrupted whatever tripe conversation she assumed they would be having.
“What’s up with you Sameen?” someone asked her.
“Me? Oh nothing, nothing at all”, she tried to lie, unconvincingly.
“Come on Sameen, we know you’re hiding something”
“No no, I shouldn’t, I ain’t a gossip queen. It doesn’t concern yall. It doesn’t even concern me. I was asked not to tell anyone, I ain’t gonna bother telling yall about Hamza”.
“Come on, too late now, go on!” the gang cried in unison.
“Oh my God fine, well you know that quiet nerd guy Hamza in our English class, he dances classical”, she blurted out, near-breathless, eyes wide in excitement and twinkling with proud gossip.
“Who?” answered one of the girls, smirking.
“That geeky kid with all the acne who’s always reading those big books in English class, always sitting at the front on the left? Amna saw him at her sister’s classical dance class, I swear to God”.
She looked convincingly at the disbelieving faces, nodding emphatically at each as they started sniggering at the thought: “I know right”.
“No way. That’s hilarious, I can’t believe that hahahaha”.
“I swear that guy can hardly walk a few meters without dropping one of his books”.
“I mean have you seen him walk, he’s so gangly and weird”.
“Yeah, what a weirdo”.
“God, I thought he was weird, but like geek weird, reading books on his own at home with no friends, and probably spending hours geeking and playing video games all night, talking or screaming to strangers and shit… But dancing? And classical too?”
“Do you think he’s gay?”
“I mean, like, I guess so. He has to be”.
“Urgh, so embarrassing. Why couldn’t he just stay a regular geek instead of having to go dance classical like a girl”.
“Yeah, remember when we found out Pervez liked to dress as a girl? I’m glad he moved city…”
“Next we’ll find out Farah plays football or something”.
They all laughed gleefully.
“Anyways, this is none of our business, right? He can do what he wants, dance classical, be gay, go to Thailand for a sex change, as long as he’s having a good time, who are we to say anything, right? Whatever, I don’t want to gossip, it’s lame, you girls never heard this from me or anyone, right? Keep your lips sealed”, she asked the gang, oblivious to the irony, and fully believing their sincere looking faces and words of agreement. I don’t like to talk about things that aren’t relevant to me or don’t concern, and I never indulge in unconstrained conversation, but still, Amna told me not to tell anyone, how inconsiderate of her…”
The next day, Hamza would come home from school early after being bullied and ridiculed into embarrassment for doing something he loved. And the same evening, unbeknownst to any of her friends, Sameen would go home as usual, lock her room door, turn on her computer, plug her headphones in, and spend the whole night screaming insults through her speakers as she shot and killed people playing Call of Duty with hundreds of so-called “geeks”, gamers just like her.