Not long after I met Mr. Right, I gave Mr. Ten a call to tell him that I had met someone and would like to give it a shot. He gushed the following expressions in approximate unison:
2. Respect and admiration that I had been honest at the outset
3. Full acknowledgement that we had never had "a conversation" about our relationship
4. "But my heart is melting a little."
5. "I guess it was only a matter of time"
6. A variety of praises on my virtues that he will always admire
7. Wishing me happiness
8. and, "Is he Muslim?"
The response was lovely and a little more.... heartfelt.... than I thought it would be, considering the relationship had seemed to be something more of the kind described by Sarah Vaughan when she sang "it was just... One Of Those Things", or in other words "too hot not to cool down". Response #8, however, made me laugh spontaneously.
It was the kind of classic question I should have expected from a militant atheist, but I couldn't decide whether the question was full of playfulness or full of bitterness. He knows that if I had a choice I wouldn't really care what religion I married into. He knows that I choose to comply with not having a choice.
He doesn't know that Mr. Right had a bitter fight with his parents over his ex-girlfriend's religion; and another bitter fight when his parents asked "is Stella a Muslim?". That he's read all the religious texts and decided they were all essentially leading to the same purpose; that he doesn't pray five times a day because he finds no peace in it and therefore no sense in doing it; that he believes faith is something sought and gained and experienced personally instead of swallowed from what preachers say and imposed on others; that he chose to be with me not because we are religiously compatible but because he thinks we are spiritually compatible; that he knows enough about himself to explain the above clearly, calmly, without frustration.
Mr. Ten didn't know these things and, really nobody would know or need know. But in this society of religious expectations and uniformity, on the surface of things I am doing it exactly by the book.
And so after I had finished laughing I answered, rather guiltily, "yes he is a Muslim."