I Want What They Have: Riz Ahmed and Fatima Farheen Mirza

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Love is a many-splendored thing, especially when you’re gawking at it from the outside. In this new column, we’ll be examining the celebrity couples that give us hope for our own romantic futures and trying to learn what we can from their well-documented bonds.

It was the hair fix seen round the world: At the 2021 Oscars on Sunday, actor Riz Ahmed—who was nominated for his performance in Sound of Metal—stopped on the red carpet to fix his wife Fatima Farheen Mirza’s hair, joking, “I’m the official groomer.”

It should be said that I am fairly gay, and yet…I simply cannot stop thinking about Ahmed holding his finger up to the cameras and turning to his wife to floof her long, elegant mane over her shoulders. It’s so deeply sexy in a way I can’t entirely describe but think has something to do with the level of intimate care on display. It’s like they’re posing for a Huji Cam picture at home, except it’s the Oscars and everyone’s watching, and Ahmed doesn’t care because he just wants his wife’s hair to look good so she can be happy on his big night, and, yes, I am crying.

As if the hair-fixing moment weren’t swoony enough, Ahmed and Mirza have an equally adorable meet-cute story. The two met at the same table in a coffee shop; as Ahmed recalled on The Tonight Show, “We were both jostling over the same laptop plug points.” I find that interesting because the only thing my laptop-charger jostling has ever led to is a tense, silent standoff with a stranger whom I then felt too awkward to ask to watch my laptop when I went to buy a muffin.

The love story only gets better from there, with Ahmed and Mirza secretly getting married last winter. “Obviously, kept it super intimate and socially distanced. There was just, like, hardly anyone there, really,” said Ahmed at the time, adding, “We did it in a backyard, which is nice in lots of ways. And I think the nicest thing about it was you didn’t have 500 aunties hanging around you, pinching your cheeks.” Rude to aunties, but okay!

Selfishly, one of my favorite details about Ahmed’s marriage is the fact that he’s wed to a writer. (Mirza’s 2018 debut novel, A Place for Us, which focuses on an Indian Muslim family living in Northern California, made the New York Times best-seller list.) I wouldn’t flatter myself by comparing myself to Mirza—after all, novels and blogs are famously not the same—but their union still gives me hope that maybe, one day, I’ll catch the eye of an attractive celebrity while hard at work in a coffee shop. Of course, Mirza probably isn’t writing on a 2013 MacBook that’s perennially stained with jam, but I thank her for inspiring me all the same.



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