His little sister safely dropped off at her first class, Adnaan had no other justifiable reason to stick around campus other than the fact that he just didn’t want to leave. How ironic, that now he didn’t have to be here, he couldn’t stop coming up with excuses to stay.
Going home was going to be excruciating, he knew it. They’d been having the fight (about his future) almost nonstop for the past twenty four hours and yet, he wasn’t even being listened to. His father was infuriating that way, and always had been. Now, with everything about Saami’ah’s past out in the open, it was easier for him to sympathise with his Dad’s tendency to micromanage him, but that didn’t make it easier for him to live with the consequences.
He hated numbers but because Dad didn’t want him to give up without trying, Adnaan did Maths and Accounting. Because Dad thought a BComm was better than a BA, he studied BComm Accounting. And because Dad refused to listen, Adnaan had spent years of his life feeling like an imbecile and failing courses while his friends carried on with their lives and teased him mercilessly.
Enough was enough. He was done being the butt of jokes. He was done with sitting down in an exam venue and immediately feeling sick to his stomach. He was done feeling like the stupidest person in the room, even though he spent hours trying to wrap his head around concepts and studying until his eyes hurt.
He hated it, and he was not going to let his Dad railroad him into starting a career that would quickly drive him insane. He’d been holding firm for a full day now, and he wasn’t going to back down like he always did. For once, Dad could be the one to blink. This was too important to just roll over and go with the flow.
He was distracted walking, and ended up nearly running over a girl. She jerked to the side to get out of his way, and her thermos slipped right out of her grasp. “No!” he heard her cry, sounding unreasonably upset. She stretched out an arm to pick it up, but only succeeded in losing her grip on one of the three bags threaded through her arms.
She grunted in frustration. “Ugh, come on.”
Adnaan’s brain finally rebooted and he reached down, picking up both the thermos and the really, very heavy bag. How the girl had been able to carry it, he didn’t know. It looked like it weighed more than she did. He held both items out to her. “I’m really sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.”
Pretty green eyes stared up at him and she accepted her things back, clutching them to her chest. “That’s alright. I was in a rush.” She glanced at her wrist. “I’m still in a rush. Thank you, I’ve gotta go.”
She sped off past and he turned to watch her progress. Absurdly, he wanted to tell her to wait, but he regained control of himself before the words could slip out. He shook his head once, twice and then started walking again with new purpose. Hiding away on campus wasn’t going to do anything. He needed to just go home and finally have it out with his Dad properly.
Resolved, he sped home and walked in, trying to project confidence.
“Oh, Adnaan, there you are.” His mother met him at the door. “Here, come sit.” She tucked her arm into his and led him to the island, picking up a cup of tea. “Let’s talk.”
Her calmness threw him off-kilter. Mom might have been trying to keep the peace between him and Dad but she wasn’t at all happy with him either. He’d expected her to be yanking his ear and scolding, but she wasn’t. Instead, she was trying to get him to accept the mug of tea she’d picked up and talking about biscuits.
“Mom, what’s going on?”
“Drink your tea,” she told him. “And then we’ll talk.”
He drank the tea, wincing when it scalded his tongue and throat. “There.” He put the empty cup in front of his mother. “I drank it.”
Mom gave him a severe look.
“Jazakallah,” he added hastily.
She smoothed his hair. “Good. It’s cold outside, you don’t want to get sick.”
He didn’t bother to tell her that the weather couldn’t make people sick. She’d scold him for arguing unnecessarily, and list every single time he’d ever gone outside with wet hair and then come back home and so much as sneezed.
“Adnaan, I know you don’t want to finish your degree, but you’re almost done. Can you not see your father and my side? We’ve paid for four years of studying – this is your fifth – and to throw it away at this stage is foolish.”
The warmth from the tea that had seeped into his bones evaporated. “If you’d listened to me five years ago, then there’d be no paying for something that I won’t finish. I never wanted to do this, I wanted to study journalism. You know that, because I’ve been telling you since before I even finished high school. I started the BComm because you insisted and because you promised me that you’d let me change it if I hated it. And then you never kept your word.”
“Journalism is dangerous,” his mother reminded him.
“I don’t have to report on crime, Mom,” he replied, as he had dozens of times before. “You’re not being fair.”
“Okay,” Mom held up her hands. “What if you finish – Wait!” she stopped him when he opened his mouth to decline. “What if you finish and then you study journalism? It’s only six more months.”
“The time is not the problem, Mom!” His frustration seeped into his voice, despite his best efforts. He’d told them and told them, why couldn’t they understand?
He pulled away from his mother and got to his feet. “I hate doing this. I hate it and I’m bad at it and it makes me miserable. I don’t want to keep doing it.”
“People do lots of things that they don’t want to, Adnaan. It’s part of life. You can’t just quit because you don’t like it!”
“You promised me that I could quit if I didn’t like it,” he yelled, finally losing his temper. “You promised me. Why would you do that and then just not keep to it? You –” he pressed his lips together, fighting frustrated tears. “Whatever. I’m going upstairs.”
What’s this? A second chapter? In one day! Is it 2018?