They met back to back at an Indian restaurant in Chicago. He had come from an Anti-Reagan demonstration that was to have ended with Thai food, but at the last-minute it became Indian. She, having arrived unexpectedly from Pakistan just two weeks earlier, had come from signing the lease of a new apartment north of the city. Between saag and naan, ignoring their respective dinner company, they began to talk and realized they had met earlier in the year.
He: A cute grad student at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, majoring in Applied Linguistics with a heart for the world. She: A young nurse, new to the field of nursing and trying to forge her way in a strange country with strange customs. In a week they were old friends. In a month they could not stop thinking about each other. In a year they were in Pakistan for an engagement ceremony that included Muslims – Sunnis, Shias, Ahmadiyyas, and Ismaili; Hindus, and Christians from ethnic groups and areas throughout Pakistan. 200 cups of tea were served along with sweets and savouries amidst the sweet scent of rose garlands and the sentiment of a thousand hearts.
Marriage, Five children, limited cash flow, sleep deprivation, hard work, hard lessons, airline trips, visas, more airline trips, crises, more crises, many moves, even more houses, grace, and humor seemed to follow them wherever they went. As did a thousand hearts.
They celebrated Valentine’s day with Iranian food because ethnic restaurants seem to always have plenty of space and far better service on this day. And because they love Iranian food. It was food fit for a king and queen – kebabs and rice, mast-o-khiar (cucumber yogurt salad) and special tea . Roses came earlier in the day along with the card “At one glance I love you with a thousand hearts”. Later in the evening came her gift to him: “Awkward Family Photos” – it was more than appropriate.
And one thing they knew and continually hold to is this: That every step, every breath, and every heart is a result of God’s love, God’s mercy, and God’s grace. They can love with a thousand hearts only because He loves with a million.