Huma shares her experiences in an everyday love story full of hope

Like so many teenage girls Huma Qureshi longed for romance and to fall in love.

Huma and Richard's wedding
Huma and Richard's wedding

But she was also aware of the expectations that came with her Pakistani heritage.

“The knowledge that, one day, a family might come to visit, then ask my parents for my hand in marriage to their son over cups of tea and samosas was as much a fact of my life as watching Neighbours after school, “ she writes in her memoir.

Growing up in Walsall in the 1990s, Huma straddled two worlds – school and teenage crushes in one, and the expectations and unwritten rules of her family’s south Asian social circle in the other.

Reconciling the two was sometimes a tightrope act, but the former King Edward VI High School For Girls pupil managed it – until it came to marriage.

The first serious conversation her parents had with Huma about meeting “suitable boys” came before her final year at Warwick University.

Huma with her family

But she had set her heart on studying in France after graduating, “swept up by the romance of living in Paris”, she writes in her memoir.

It was only after her father died in 2005, that she began to think properly about marriage and agreed to be introduced to suitors.

Now working as a journalist, she also tried also Muslim-specific matrimonial and dating websites before signing up for a dating site for Londoners.

It was through the latter that she met Richard, who grew up near Market Drayton.

He was neither Pakistani nor Muslim so didn’t share the same cultural or religious background, but as they grew closer, Richard made plans to convert Islam and they began the difficult conversations with Huma’s family.

Huma and Richard's wedding

They’ve now been married for 10 years and live with their three children, Suffian, seven, Sina, five, and two-year-old Jude, in London.

“I don’t think of myself as particularly rule-breaking. All I did was fall in love unexpectedly. Three months after meeting him, I married Richard, a non-Muslim, someone I wasn’t technically supposed to marry because he didn’t share my cultural or religious heritage,” she writes in her book.

“Though there is plenty of the everyday in our story because we are ordinary and watch Netflix and eat dinner on the sofa, it does not make it any less of a great love,” she continues.

Award-winning writer Huma, now 39, has shared the story of how she met Richard, 41, in her new book In How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other Misadventures.

“It’s a memoir of how I met my husband but it’s also a story about growing up and coming to terms with my own expectations of myself,” she tells the Express & Star.

“It’s a little bit sad, a little bit funny, but most of all it is full of hope,” she says.

Huma with her family

Although it was emotional thinking back to how she was feeling and what she was going through at the time, she says it wasn’t too overwhelming.

“I was only able to write it because so much time had passed. It gave me perspective and objectivity to recognise what I was going through. I don’t think I could have written it as it was happening.

“I feel like having some distance gave me a chance to capture the intensity of it but also give some meaning and context to it,” explains Huma, who is also the author of In Spite of Oceans.

Since deciding to share their love story with the world, she says software consultant Richard has been “nothing but encouraging and understanding”.

“A few times I asked him ‘do you feel weird about this? I’m writing about us’ and he said ‘no because it’s the simple and honest truth of our story and there is nothing to be ashamed about’.

Huma Qureshi

“I was nervous about my family and my mum reading it. There are scenes in the book that are about us, personal moments. Nobody expects their daughter to go off and write a book about them.

“My mum read the manuscript and she was moved by it. In a way it’s brought us closer. She didn’t realise a lot of what I was going through because I kept it to myself.

“She’s really proud and she understands why it was important to me to write the book,” adds Huma.

She believes that her younger self would have benefited from being able to read a story like hers which had a happy ending.

HWM jkt final 27112020.indd

“It would have helped hugely. I wish I could have read a story in which I could see what my possibilities could be as a woman with my background,” says Huma.

Since the publication of her memoir, she’s been “ blown away by the response” and says she has been contacted by both men and women as well as teenage girls who have been to relate to her experiences.

“I don’t think you have to share my background to resonate with these feelings,” says Huma.

“It’s been wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better response,” she adds.

*How We Met: A Memoir of Love and Other Misadventures, published by Elliott & Thompson, is available now.

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