In the Name of Friendship

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Chapter 4: Between Love and Friendship

A smirk played at the corners of Aiman’s mouth when he saw one of his best friends, Nina, sitting alone on the porch of her house.

She had her back to him, so Nina didn’t know that Aiman was here.

Aiman then moved slowly nearer to Nina from behind. He was careful not to be heard by his best friend.

As soon as he reached behind Nina, Aiman shouted, “Boo!”

Surprised, Nina shrieked in fright.

Nina’s reaction cracked Aiman up.

Hearing her best friend’s laughter, Nina swivelled around and scolded him right away, “Oh Aiman, you gave me quite a turn. Don’t creep up on me like that ever again! Do you hear me?”

“Sorry,” Aiman mumbled, grinning from ear to ear.

“Forget it!” said Nina, “What brings you here, Aiman?”

Aiman took a seat next to Nina.

“Nina, if I tell you something, can you keep it a secret?” he asked. His tone got a bit more serious.

“What do you want to tell me?” Nina inquired out of curiosity.

“Do I have your promise that you won’t tell anyone about this?” Aiman demanded.

“Yes, I promise I will not reveal your secret to anyone,” Nina replied, “Now tell me! What’s your secret?”

“I fall in love with someone,” Aiman finally told her.

“Oh, really?” Nina queried enthusiastically.

Aiman nodded. “Yeah.”

“Who’s the lucky girl?” Nina enquired curiously.

“You’ve known her for a great many years,” Aiman answered with a shy smile.

Nina’s eyebrows lifted. “Who do you mean?”

Blushing, Aiman whispered, “Shinta.”

Nina’s eyes widened in surprise. “What?!”

“Yes Nina, I’ve fallen in love with Shinta,” Aiman confessed.

Now Aiman’s a teenager, so Nina thought that it’s understandable if he’s starting to be interested in girls. But why did it have to be Shinta? Don’t get her wrong! Nina was happy as long as Aiman and Shinta were happy. But Nina was just afraid if Aiman dated with Shinta, it’s bound to cause problems for their friendship. However, Nina didn’t want to share her anxieties with Aiman. He seemed so happy. She didn’t want to burst his bubble so soon.

“Remember, Nina! This is just between you and me. I don’t want anyone else to find out about it,” Aiman warned her.

Nina was sometimes bad at keeping secrets. So Aiman just wanted to make sure that Nina wouldn’t reveal his secret to anyone.

“Don’t worry, Aiman! Your secret is safe with me,” Nina reassured him.

“What do you think if I and Shinta become boyfriend and girlfriend?” Aiman asked for Nina’s opinion.

Nina thought for a bit before answering, “I think that’ll be great. You know, you and Shinta are a perfect match for each other.”

“I’m glad you think so. You know what? All this time, I always think that Shinta and I are meant for each other,” Aiman beamed.

Nina only responded him with a smile. Well, Nina was actually lying earlier. If Aiman wanted her honest opinion, Nina thought that he and Shinta weren’t a good match because they were worlds apart. Even if the two of them ended up dating, she didn’t think their relationship would last. Nina deliberately lied to Aiman because she didn’t want to break his spirit if he heard the truth.

“By the way, have you told Shinta that you’re in love with her yet?” Nina posed a question.

Aiman shook his head. “No, I haven’t told her yet. I’m too shy to ask her out.”

“Why not tell her how you feel? You know, it might do you good to get it off your chest,” Nina suggested.

“But if I told her about my feelings, I am afraid she would reject me,” Aiman said apprehensively.

Knowing Shinta, Nina was certain that she would reject Aiman instantly. Their friendship always meant a great deal to Shinta. Thus, Shinta might share the same anxiety with Nina about her and Aiman’s romantic relationship that probably would spoil their friendship. But Nina wanted Aiman to hear the rejection from Shinta’s own mouth, that’s why Nina decided to encourage Aiman, “Go on, ask her! She can hardly reject you.”

“When do you think I shall tell her?” Aiman asked for Nina’s opinion.

“The sooner the better,” Nina replied.

Yes, the sooner Aiman told Shinta that he was in love with her, the sooner he would realize that his feelings for her was not reciprocated, and the sooner he could get over her too. This might sound cruel. But Nina believed that sometimes you had to be cruel to be kind.

“OK then, I’m going to Shinta’s house now and declare that I’m in love with her,” Aiman decided.

Nina gaped. “What?! Right now?”

“Yes. I’m bursting to tell her my feeling,” Aiman answered enthusiastically.

“Oh okay.” Nina gave him a tight smile.

“Why don’t you come along, Nina?” Aiman suggested, “I want you to witness the moment when I declare my love to Shinta.”

Nina’s smile slowly faded. “I wish I could come with you, Aiman, but I still haven’t done my homework yet. So you’d better go without me. But don’t forget to tell me what happen between you and Shinta, okay?”

“Too bad you can’t come with me to watch what I’m going to do, Nina. But it’s okay I understand. See you, Nina. I’ll catch you later.” Aiman waved at Nina before he took his leave.

Nina waved back at him. “See you.”

On the way to Shinta’s house, Aiman ran across flower plants that grew wild along the banks of rivers. Since those flower trees were in blossom, Aiman decided to pluck a bunch of flowers and he was planning to give the flowers to Shinta.

On arriving at Shinta’s house, Aiman took a deep breath before he went straight up to the front door and knocked loudly.

When Aiman heard footsteps approaching, he quickly hid the flowers behind his back.

Within seconds, Shinta finally answered the door. “Hi, Aiman,” she greeted him with a friendly smile.

“Hi, Shinta.” Aiman greeted her back.

Something that Aiman was holding behind his back immediately caught Shinta’s eye. “Wait! What’s that behind you?” she queried curiously.

Aiman pulled the flowers from behind his back and showed it to Shinta. “This is for you,” he said as he handed it to her.

“Oh thank you so much, Aiman. It’s so beautiful!” Shinta bowed to smell the flowers.

“Never mind!” Aiman responded with a smile.

“But why do you all of a sudden give me flowers?” Shinta asked out of curiosity.

“Because I love you,” Aiman answered straightforwardly.

“Oh so sweet! I love you too, Aiman. You and Nina are the best of friends I have ever had,” Shinta chirped.

Aiman sighed. “It’s not what I meant, Shinta.”

A frown creased her forehead. “Then what do you mean?”

“I love you more than just a friend, Shinta,” Aiman confessed.

Shinta’s eyes widened in astonishment. “You what?”

“You heard me right enough. You know, from the moment we met, I was completely bewitched by you. I don’t know when my feelings blossomed into love, but one thing for sure, I love you so much, Shinta. I’ve been meaning to tell you what I feel for a long time, but I always chickened out at the last moment. Now, I finally pluck up the courage to ask you for a date,” Aiman elaborated.

Aiman’s confession completely floored her until Shinta didn’t know what to say.

“So what do you say, Shinta? Will you be my girlfriend?” Aiman enquired hopefully.

Shinta thought for a while before she answered, “To be frank with you, my feeling is mutual, Aiman.”

Aiman’s eyes shone after he heard her words. “Are you serious, Shinta?”

Shinta nodded sheepishly. “All this time, I actually always have a huge crush on you, Aiman, but I’m too shy to tell you about it.”

“Does it mean that you agree to be my girlfriend, Shinta?” Aiman inquired. Hope glimmered in his eyes.

“I’m sorry, Aiman, but I can’t be your girlfriend,” Shinta replied regretfully.

Aiman could barely conceal his disappointment when Shinta rejected him. “Why?”

“If we dated, what would Nina say about it?” Shinta questioned apprehensively.

“Don’t worry, Shinta!” Aiman reassured her, “Nina approves of us dating. Even she’s the one who encouraged me in telling my feelings to you.”

“Oh, really?” asked Shinta.

“Yes, I’ve met Nina before I came here to see you. Nina suggested me to tell you my feelings right away,” Aiman told her.

“Although Nina has approved of us dating, but...” Shinta trailed away.

“But what?” Aiman queried impatiently.

“I am afraid our friendship will be blighted by our romantic relationship, Aiman. That’s why I can’t be your girlfriend,” Shinta explained.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of, Shinta. I assure you that nothing will change in our friendship even though we’re dating,” Aiman tried to reassure her, but she still felt anxious.

“But what if one day we break up? What will happen to our friendship then?” Shinta voiced her anxieties.

“I wish our relationship will last forever, Shinta. But if we have to break up for some reason, I promise you that you and I, not forgetting Nina, can still be friends as usual,” Aiman convinced her.

Shinta remained silent.

“Now, I ask you one more time, Shinta. Will you be my girlfriend?” Aiman posed a question.

“I... I...” Shinta hesitated.

”That’s all right, Shinta. Whatever decision you make, I will appreciate it,” Aiman stated.

There was an awkward silence for a moment until Shinta’s face suddenly cracked into a smile and she said, “Yes, Aiman, I will.”

Spontaneously, Aiman hugged Shinta. “Thank you for accepting me as your boyfriend, Shinta. I love you.”

Shinta hugged him back and whispered, “I love you too, Aiman.”

Both Aiman and Shinta weren’t aware that there was a girl watching them from a distance. A tear traced a path down her cheek when she heard Shinta accepted Aiman as her boyfriend.

“That should be me who become your girlfriend, Aiman, not Shinta,” she thought sadly.

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