Before we dive into the history of TMM and TMB, a bit of geography is in order. Nizar was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1988. I arrived roughly a year later, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Our paths didn’t cross till Nizar moved to BD in 2006. I remember him as the new kid in the block, cute and sweet natured. We would say hello to each other in passing but couldn’t care less about the other. He left school before the year finished and disappeared from my radar.
When I left for UK in 2008, Nizar was just a Facebook friend. We graduated in two different continents, probably congratulated each other on our graduation photos, as Facebook friends do.
I moved to London in October 2011. I got admission into King’s College for a masters but decided it was time to earn some money. I was living in a cramped studio flat with my sister, on a post study work visa, on the lookout for work. In a city that was so overwhelmingly metropolitan, it made Glasgow feel like a village in retrospect.
30th December 2011. I took a flight from London to Dhaka for my sister’s wedding. I had contacted Nizar to help with the wedding performances. He initially had plans to go to America which didn’t work out because such is the nature of destiny.
Nizar and I danced together in most of the songs – Tu Mera Hero, Saadi Gali, Chammak Challo, Thug Le. He was a nice guy and a great dancer but I didn’t think much of him. A fun guy – that’s all the impression I had of my future husband.
Somewhere down the line, I started detecting his subtly targeted attention towards me. I remember him texting me casually, asking me when I was leaving for London. And when I replied mid Jan, he said he wished I didn’t have to leave so soon. Through such minimal contact and imperceptible gestures, I started being more and more aware of his presence. When my heart skipped a beat upon seeing him on the holud night, I realised something had changed in my heart. Being dressed up has the tendency of adding that extra AF dramatic effect. He looked adorable and when we practiced the steps on the stage, I felt my heart racing.
Dancing turned into dusk-till-dawn phone calls and within a week, TMB and I were in love (this is where you LOL). Nizar charmed his way into my heart with his open-minded nature, cute face and adorable persona. He was like a breath of fresh air in the darkness that I had been secretly battling.
One of the most beautiful days we spent during this short period was Valentine’s Day. We lunched at Time Out, did a photoshoot at Floor 6, dressed to the nines and smitten with puppy love. When I returned home that night, I received an email that instantly brought me crashing down from my high. That one email and how I responded to it was going to change my life. And his.
The email was an invitation for an interview for a company in London. I could have deleted the letter and forgotten all about it. Life would have been SO different had I done that. But I couldn’t ignore it. I had been desperately job hunting in London for the past few months – in vain. After meeting Nizar, I had given up on my London dream for something that meant more to me but my past was calling me back for another chance. I was torn.
Nizar didn’t try to stop me, even for once. In fact, if anything, his positivity played a huge role in my decision to fly back. Based on the hope that he would follow me to UK by applying for a Masters, I purchased a one-way Dhaka-London ticket for the 18th of February 2012, just 4 days after that fateful Valentine’s. We exchanged rings the day before my flight as a solid gesture of commitment towards each other (cue to LOL harder my friends). Ah, the faith of young love!
The final goodbye at the airport was heart-breaking. It cost him a lot to let me go, I know, but he did so with the utmost love and care. I was in tears yet he consoled me. I came into his life to fill a void and now, I was leaving with promises that were never meant to be kept. I promised to be back, I promised to pick up from here. I didn’t know that I had to pay a hefty price of one and a half years before I would get a chance to fulfil them.
Once back to the cold, hard life of London, I spent my days yearning for the innocent and consuming love I had experienced with Nizar. Shortly after landing, the interview I had flown in for got cancelled, making life unbearably uncertain.
London is not cheap. I immediately got a job as a sales assistant at Superdrug to get by. My sister and I were renting a ‘studio flat’ in North London that was in retrospect just a modified garden shed in someone’s backyard. It was testing times but it was all the space we could afford.
In the beginning, I struggled quite severely to cope with the changes. I missed Nizar terribly. I worked crazy shifts and counted every day down to June when I hoped to see him again. I had Network Rail, Tata Steel and my current company’s applications in the pipeline. I left it at that and made no further attempts to search for work.
Sadly, our new relationship couldn’t quite survive the distance. It started losing momentum. Then came the confirmation email of my job offer. That officially killed our budding relationship, cementing the geographical gap for good. His family turned down his request for a Masters in London as it wasnt a feasible option. We tried to remain on good terms but eventually things got messy and we cut off our social media ties.
Later that year, I jetted off for my annual December holiday, desperate for a break from the hectic London life. 2012 was a hard year and my mental health had hit rock bottom. After bumping repeatedly into each other at social events, I reconnected with Nizar, something I had ruled out pretty permanently. By Feb 2013, we were back together for a 2nd time.
Skype became our new best friend. We wanted to move things forward so in October 2013, we convinced our parents to meet. Nizar was set to go to his sister in Canada for higher studies. I wasn’t keen on moving but if it was the only way to be with each other in the long run, I was ready.
When Nizar’s visa got rejected, we couldnt believe it. Everything was a mess. He was still stuck in Dhaka. I was still stuck in London. Life seemed gloomier than the English skies.
As 2014 began, I realised the only way to be with Nizar was to bring him over to London. For a deshi couple like us, it *could* have been the perfect solution. I was a UK immigrant on my way to British citizenship – aka ideal middle class marriage material. Problem? I was the wrong gender. I was the woman. Nizar would have to start from scratch if he were to join me. The financial stability he could offer me was, well, non-existent. But wouldn’t he do the same for me if the roles were reversed?
Passing this non traditional bill in a traditional society was never going to be easy. My parents and sisters were with me so I really didn’t care for more support. In December 2014, Nizar and I said kobul, surrounded by our nearest and dearest. He applied for his spouse visa and got it within weeks.
On 13th March 2015, he took a one way flight from Dhaka to London. After years of trials and tribulations, we were finally together. It felt too good to be true – like dreams usually do.
Here is a little something I wrote to commemorate the momentous occasion.
18th February 2013. The air inside Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport tasted bitter. Smelt of something like death. A fledgling romance had been prematurely snipped, a blooming bud denied.
I looked for him again. There he was! In the distance, he looked even smaller. His arms were arcing in wide circles. Or was it the guy standing next to him? The tears were so damn thick. I blinked furiously to capture that last glimpse of him. But the distance had already grown.
14th March 2015. The air inside London Heathrow tasted sweet. Smelt of something like faith. A precocious solitude had been finally snipped, a dead bud brought back to life.
I looked for him again. There he was! In the distance, he looked even smaller. His arms were arcing in wide circles. Or was it the guy standing next to him? The tears were so damn thick. I blinked furiously to capture that first glimpse of him. But the distance had already gone…
Suddenly, he was buried in my arms, smelling like a dream flung from heaven by God Himself, tagged with a sticky note that read: ‘All Yours.’