Chapter 38

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Houssam stood outside the library, wondering if he dared to go in or not. He knew Hana had class in half an hour, and he also knew that she had had some more questions for him and he wanted to help her out. He really did. But he still wasn't over being mad at her. He still wasn't over having his feelings hurt.

He still wasn't over being confused beyond belief.

As he peered into the room, he spotted her sitting at one of the desks, her laptop open in front of her, and her fingers clicking away noisily on the keyboard. He smiled to see the look of concentration on her face, and he hoped she wouldn't get too angry when she saw him. He had hated the look of anger and betrayal on her face when she had been yelling at him, and he hated himself for making her anything but happy.

"Hana?" he asked knocking on the door, and she looked up, her eyes cautious.

"Salaam."

"Walaikumasalaam." He replied, and she just looked at him as he stood awkwardly in the doorway.

"Can I help you with something?"

"Yeah actually I wanted to finish the interview with you if you have time now."

She regarded him for a few seconds before nodding, and motioning towards the chair across from her.

"I have a little bit of time." She said, and he sat down, nervously moving his leg up and down. After a few more moments of silence, she cleared her throat, and clicked her mouse before poising her fingers over the keys.

"So I wanted to ask you to elaborate on what you said about the youth holding onto hope for their dreams even if people tell you that you can't do it."

"What would you like me to expand upon?" he asked, and she smiled.

"This is actually just for me. Were you speaking from experience?"

He hesitated for a second before running a hand through his hair.

"This won't be printed?"

She shook her head.

"No."

He nodded.

"Yeah I was. I think the only people who truly supported me were Amir and Yusra. Everyone else thought I was ruining my life. My dad actually told me that I was a screw up."

Hana raised her eyebrows in surprise at this. Amu AbdulJabbar didn't seem like the type to say something like that.

"Why did he say that?" she asked quietly.

"Because I dropped out of school to go after my dream."

"How long did it take before you achieved your dream?"

"A long time," he said with a laugh. "I actually had an NBA recruiter come specifically to see me when I was nineteen. But SubhanAllah Yusra ended up in the hospital that day and I had to choose between her or playing. And I chose her. So it wasn't until I had just turned twenty, that I became drafted."

"That was very nice of you to do."

He shrugged uncomfortably.

"There was no decision about it. Family comes first."

She smiled.

"That's what I wanted to ask you actually. How much priority does your family have over your career?"

He gave a bitter laugh.

"I try to put them first as much as I can, but sometimes when I have away games for weeks at a time, it's hard. I try to call and Skype and FaceTime as much as possible but," he shrugged, "sometimes I can't do anything about it. But I love my family more than anything, and if any of them needed me, I would drop everything in a heartbeat."

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