Bhavini

            “Bahaveeeeny?”

            It’s pronounced Bahv-nee.

            “Bahvynee?”

            Bahv-nee.

            “Ohh wait it’s Bahveenee isn’t it?”

            “Hi yes. I’m here, me,” I waved from the seat directly in front of Mr. Romosco, the tall, middle-aged chemistry teacher who always has a slight smell of tuna to him. “It’s Bahv-nee”.

            “Ohhhh I’m sorry for that, Bhavini. My wife’s cousin is actually married to someone from India. Super cool huh? Small world, I’d say. Welcome to AP Chemistry!” 

            Eeeeek why was that so awkward? Why not just say “sorry I’ll say it right next time” and we can move on? Plus, I’m from Pakistan, not India, which in fact is not a small world. India has 1.3 billion people. See, I’m not actually, genuinely, upset right now. I know deep down Mr. Romosco doesn’t mean any harm; he’s just probably having his own slight culture shock from seeing one singular brown girl in his class who has a name that he most likely has never seen before. The only place he may have ever heard my name would be from one of those commercials advertising the Indian restaurant the other Asian family owns on the other side of town. Except, what I’m saying is that he would’ve actually mistaken the very common South Asian dish, Biryani for my name, Bhavini. Two things my mother loves and tries to perfect so, very understandable. 

            “What is this?!”

            “What?”

            “Oh, Bhavini wake up, you’re developing these terrible habits of sleeping in”

            I check my phone quick to see the time and-

            “Bhavini, no phone. Baba read something on the BBC how the iPhone ruins your eyesight if you look at it too much before bed or right when you wake up.”

            “Ma, it’s 10:00 a.m. And it’s a Saturday. Why can’t I sleep in?”

            “Exactly, Beta it’s 10! Baba and I naturally wake up if we had eight hours of sleep. It’s like our bodies naturally do so. This must mean to me that you went to sleep at 2 a.m. or later! Unbelievable, probably texting some boy, get up, get up! Cousin Chaaya has her Mehndi ceremony today, and we must be there by 12:30. It starts at 1.”

            “Why do we have to be there by 12:30 then?”

            “Because it starts at 1, now get up Beta! Baba made some food, but you need to heat it up because he made it two hours ago, the time you are supposed to eat breakfast.”

            The funny part of all of this is my mother really thinks I was up texting a boy. I was actually up texting Amalie who was texting a boy, and I was helping her out with what to say. I have never had a boyfriend or even my first kiss, but my love guru skills are pretty impressive, not gonna lie. 

            “So, I know what you’re all asking is: if there are multiple energy levels in atoms then how do electrons move between these energy levels? Well class, I have a pretty atomic answer for you.” Mr. Romosco tries his best to make Bill Nye style jokes, and students don’t really laugh at them. I try to smile a little to just not make him feel bad. I mean, I wouldn’t want to teach a bunch of high-schoolers for a million-dollar salary. Imagine having a bunch of moody teenagers sitting in front of you at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday. So luxurious, right? 

            As I sit there listening to Mr. Romosco’s fourth attempt at a joke within the first twenty minutes of class, my eyes start wondering. We sit in mandatory seats, and mine happens to be directly in the middle of the front row, which is also where Mr. Romosco stands to take roll every day. Lucky me, getting a whiff of that tuna smell every morning. In his defense, he did say he is fostering kittens and apparently kittens love tuna. Plus, I would’ve chosen that seat anyway because some would call me a teacher’s pet, but I would refer to myself as a girl with terrible eyesight and an undiagnosed case of ADHD. Anyway, I wouldn’t have known about that tuna thing if Amalie didn’t tell me, because Baba is deathly allergic to cats. By deathly, he’s not really that allergic, but Ma just gets extremely annoyed if he’s sneezing constantly and complaining a ton. Therefore, he’s deathly allergic and cats are an absolute no go in our household. 

            I look over to the left slightly, outside the window and see the sun slowly appear more visible. The clouds are fluffy today, and I start counting how many seconds it takes for this one particular cloud shaped like a heart to uncover the sun. Now, I’m rudely interrupted by this boy sitting in the far-left corner of the front row, gawking at me. He must think I’m staring at him. I felt like saying hey my eyes are not on you. In reluctance to abandon my counting, I must look away or else he’s going to think I’m trying to flirt or something, which I don’t even think I know how to do myself anyway. Especially in person. I’ve done my fair share of tinder flirting, but again for Amalie, not for myself. 

            Out of a slight desire to see if the sun was uncovered finally and complete and utter curiosity, I look again to the window. I see the boy still looking at me from the side of my eye, and the sun was still not uncovered so I turned my glance away again. Of course, at this point, part of me really just wants to know why this guy is so interested so I look yet again. This time, I look directly at him, and he smiles and does a little wave. That’s it. I’m done with the games, this guy definitely thinks I have a crush on him, we’re done. The bell rings in the middle of Mr. Romosco telling us our homework for the day, and everyone starts to get up. Usually I am one to stay, because the poor man is still trying to speak, and I don’t mind sparing the thirty seconds. I have mastered speed walking to my next class. But I must escape this embarrassment I’ve dug myself into. I start making a dash for the door, but the guy ends up walking ahead and holding the door open for me. I say a quick “thanks” and start walking so fast that I completely forget what class I’m going to and end up walking the opposite direction from it. 

            “You usually go this way to Ms. Gilray’s?” the boy asked.

            “Uhhhhh, no. Yeah. I mean, no, not usually. But I really wanted to fill my water bottle at the fountain”

            “You don’t have a water bottle on you…?”

            “Right, yeah I meant for the water bottle that I will buy at the vending machine. And of course, it will be filled already but you know hydration is key. I go through water sooooo fast, but they say it helps with cell regeneration.”

            Shut up Bhav. 

            “Oh, that’s super cool actually. Yeah, the vending machine is actually right outside of Ms. Gilray’s hahahaha.”

            “Oh damn! Right! I completely forgot. Wait so, how did you know I have Gilray next?”

            “I’m in your class, I sit behind you every day, which makes me sound super stalkerish, but I swear I just thought you knew who I was.”

            “NO, it’s not stalkerish, I do know who you are, I just didn’t get much sleep last night so I’m a little out of it today hahahaha”

            He’s actually really cute.

            “You’re all good, I have those days more often than not.”

            I’m standing in front of the vending machine, trying to dig for a dollar in my backpack, but could not find one for the life of me. 

            “Here, I got it.”

            “Oh no, you really don’t have to”

            “It’s just a dollar Bhavini, don’t worry about it.”

            I cannot believe he said my name right. We walk into Ms. Gilray’s, and we sit down. I looked at the window to my right and noticed the sun was out. The heart shaped cloud had passed in Romosco’s but placed itself to see through the window of Gilray’s for me to look at again.

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SUHANA MONSALVE

is a Presidential scholar and English major. She is in her last year here at UB! Suhana has been writing for as long as she can remember.  A lot of what inspires her pieces are human experiences, such as those of her own and those of others around her. Her mixed half-Colombian and half-Indian background also heavily influences her work. She enjoys writing as a therapy and to help others feel less alone in what they feel and go through.

Size Zero

The American Eagle size 0 jeans are still hanging in my closet, 

Behind the size medium dress that I wore to Aunt Lily’s wedding yesterday 

And in front of my freshman year homecoming dress, size 2. 

I keep the red, sparkly, homecoming dress because I just can’t fathom seeing it gone, 

Knowing that it holds so much memory with its coke stain at the bottom left corner 

And the strap that will rip at any second due to me waving my arms at the dance  

Like the Tall Boy at the car dealership on Mapleton. 

The American Eagle jeans hold memory too. 

They remind me of the days that I didn’t look in the mirror and wish I had a thigh gap, 

Because there was barely any thigh to gap. 

I try them on once a week, specifically after Sunday night dinner. Self-sabotage, I know.  

But I think to myself, 

If they fit just a little bit tight right now… 

They will obviously fit perfect in the morning for school when I have only eaten 

A waffle and not vodka pasta for dinner and lava cake for dessert. 

Somehow over-night, not only my bloating will go away but so will my hips 

(they’ll just concave inward in my sleep, obviously) 

And my butt and my thighs, and heck, maybe even I’ll get lucky and have less water retention. 

I avoid looking in the mirror at all costs. 

I say goodbye to my reflection that I try to convince myself isn’t even the real me  

And decide to check back in with her in the morning.