I am an incredibly nosy person. Most of my life I have to actively hold back asking questions. I have learnt (the hard way) that asking questions about personal matters is not a done thing. Don’t worry though, I have learnt to filter most of the nosy questions.
Yet, I am still nosy, or as I like to put it more gently these days: I am curious. I am curious about everything and so you’d think that memoirs would be a great way to explore what other humans do and think, what happened to them and how they dealt with it. Yes, you could think that but most memoirs leave me frustrated because they don’t answer my questions, they just add more questions and then, obviously, those remain unanswered.
Now and then though, a memoir comes along that just answers all my questions. A memoir that is honest and clear, straightforward (which I imagine comes at a cost) and beautiful.
How We Met is the story of how Huma, a Muslim woman of Pakistani heritage from Walsall, met Richard, an English man. I loved how Huma described her upbringing, a loving family, a tight-knit community, yes with its rules but also its comforts. Her education, her ambitions, her struggles, she did not hold back and laid it all bare in front of you. Like she did a big sweep with her arm and say: all of this made me the person I am today.
Often when we see stories of Muslim meets Non-Muslim, we expect fights, abandoning of faith and family, running away and the whole dramatic spectrum. I am not saying that these stories don’t happen, but I am very glad Huma wrote her story which had still its conflicts, pain and struggle but also showed the love and the concern of those around her, but also, as her friend, who encouraged her to write the story said: “Your happy ending.”
I can already hear the naysayers, who will say things like: why did she define herself for so long trying to get married, why did she not try to be a happy single. Nonsense of course, above anything else, beyond the cultural pressure, I got the feeling that Huma just really wanted a person to share her life with and I, for one, cannot see anything wrong with that. Feminism is also the ability of a woman to choose a union with another person as part of her fulfilment. Yes, of course, we should also be able to be alone, but I think for many of us, sharing a life with someone who gets us, is just something we aspire to and I am glad that Huma found that person in Richard.
I also loved the display of faith and religion in the book. Faith that is interwoven in daily life, a religion that is part of you and you are part of it. We are often confronted with the extreme ends of religion and faith, so it was nice to see how it is so different for most believers of any faith: it’s just part of who you are.
Needless to say that I loved this book. I read it in one sitting. Interesting to think that the main reason I picked up this book is because Huma is from Walsall and I have this urge to pick up West Midlands authors to support them (and I am not even from here, let alone from this country), but I just do. I have seen that Huma has another book coming out later this year and you can bet that I will pick it up, too.