Nufel and I met in October of 2002 in our halls of residence at The University of Leicester. I remember the first day we met – I asked him to come and play football with me and my friend. Of course I could never have guessed that this man would eventually become my husband or that 10 years later I would be living with him in Bangladesh!
To this day I can recall how that first night we did not stop talking to one another – we just clicked. From then on I got to discover just how ‘foreign’ he was – living out of not much more than a couple of suitcases (ready to up and leave if the need arose!) and eating peculiar foods (endless 9p noodles with tins of fish!). He had already spent some time in the UK although his experiences and lifestyle were accustomed to multi-cultural London where he had a diverse mix of people to be with. I think Leicester and the white middle classes whilst not unheard of, were a live-in adjustment. He always did miss London.
Our friendship grew and eventually a loving relationship formed on the back of his imminent departure to a more prestigious university in the City. I was about to sit my first year exams and I recall spontaneously bursting into tears as he proudly announced that after summer he would be free from the constraints of the Midlands and its mediocrity. I remember that just after receiving the news Nufel marched a very teary Emma out of the library in his long-loved Che Guavara t-shirt and gave me a reassuring cuddle. I think it was then that we thought we might be more than just friends. As the exams finished (mine not his!) we became boyfriend and girlfriend and we remained an item. Despite secrets from families, long distance heartache, summers apart and personal hurdles our relationship reluctantly adjusted but survived.
From an early stage Nufel showed absolute commitment to our future together. It was me that was stubborn. In the western world we are encouraged to ‘test’ potential partners to see if they meet our expectations. I was waiting for some invisible signal that he was the ‘one’. Oblivious to the consequences I continued to nurture my belief that I was too young to settle and stubbornly refused to think what would happen when he finished his studies and his student visa came to an end. Despite the fact that we both were aware that he may have no choice but to return to his home in Bangladesh I thought that at the 11th hour we would find a way to keep him with me in England……