We started texting during the early months of the pandemic, going back and forth every day for hours. The stay-at-home order created a space for us to get to know each other because neither of us had any other plans.
We built a friendship founded on our love of music. I introduced him to the hopelessly romantic soundtrack of my life: Durand Jones & The Indications, Toro y Moi and the band Whitney. He introduced me to classic Bollywood soundtracks, Tinariwen and the bass-filled tracks of Khruangbin.
He was eccentrically passionate in a way that barely annoyed me and often inspired me. Our banter was only curtailed by bedtimes we grudgingly enforced at 3 a.m., after eight straight hours of texting.
We had met on a dating app for South Asians called Dil Mil. My filters went beyond age and height to exclude all non-Muslim and non-Pakistani men. As a 25-year-old woman who grew up in the Pakistani-Muslim community, I was all too aware of the prohibition on marrying outside of my faith and culture, but my filters were more safeguards against heartbreak than indications of my religious and ethnic preferences. I simply did not want to fall for someone I couldn’t marry (not again, anyway — I had already learned that lesson the hard way).
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How a passionate, quirky, ambitious, 30-year-old, Hindu Indian American made it through my filters — whether by technical glitch or an act of God — I’ll never know. All I know is that once he did, I fell deeply in love with him.
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