It wasn’t a traditional proposal. He didn’t get on his knees or anything. — Saira Khan

Faheem Khan: I proposed to her to marry me and she was like, ‘we just spoke?’

Saira Khan: It wasn’t a traditional proposal. He didn’t get on his knees or anything. We met November first and November second, the very next day, he asked me to marry him — over the phone. I said, ‘Wait a minute. What’s the hurry? Take it easy.’

Faheem Khan: ‘I don’t even know you,’ she said. I said, ‘Well, you have…

Saira Khan: …the rest of our lives to get to know each other.’ And on December 14, we were married.

Faheem Khan: It was my first time. I didn’t know. And, that’s what I told the judge, when the judge said, ‘Where’s the ring?’ I said, ‘Judge, I didn’t know that I was supposed to bring a ring. This is my first time.’ So, he smiled.  He laughed and then he said, ‘At least shake hands.’ So we have a picture shaking each other hands.

Saira Khan: I got a good ring now.

Faheem Khan: Oh, I put a big ring on her.

Saira Khan: When we first moved, everybody in Chicago was like, ‘Why would you want to move to Mississippi of all places? That’s the most prejudice, this and that.’ To be honest, I can say these people over here, they welcomed us. Very Friendly people…

Faheem Khan: I’m running for alderman at large for Como. It was brought to my attention and I was like, ‘you want me to run?’ and they said, ‘It’s a great idea.’ So, here I am. It was a great idea. So I put that idea to work.

Since I’m the only store in Como everybody shops over here. All the residents come in here and tell about issues —  they have water issues.  The roads are not fixed. The people have complaints. They cannot see the elected officials. It’s a small town of 1200, but people said, ‘you don’t see your elected official on a daily basis or even on a weekly basis, only when the election comes do you see them.’ So I said, ‘You get to see me every day. I’m here every day.’

Saira Khan: I say, it’s more on the issues or on the message rather than which party you belong to. As long as you’re trying to help them with their issues, it doesn’t really matter which party you represent. At first I wasn’t for it. I’m like, ‘why do you want the headache?’ It’s a headache, actually. Listening to somebody’s problem and then if you cannot help somebody, they’re going to be mad at you.  I was telling him, ‘you’re a businessman and I think you need to stay just a businessman.’ But, so far, listening to folks, I think it’s a great idea that he decided. Whatever he does, I am with him anyway.

What do you want people to know about you when they see your picture?

Faheem Khan: She’s from India. I’m from Pakistan. Two different countries fighting for the past 50- 60 years. We’re people from different countries, living together in harmony and peace and love. For the past 20 years.

Saira Khan: 23 year to be exact, yes.

Saira, 42, and Faheem Khan, 50, have lived in Como, Mississippi since 1997. She is a realtor and he runs the Como Quick Stop, a Citgo gas station in town. The Khans had been living in Chicago, but wanted to move to a warmer state and had Florida in mind. Then a friend suggested they buy this gas station in Mississippi, saying it would at least be half way to their final destination. The two have lived in Como ever since. They have two sons, 12 and 21. Faheem Khan is running for alderman at large for the town of Como. 

Note: This post story has been updated to correct the spelling of the Khan’s name.

In ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’ Nancy Andrews presents photographs depicting the diversity of voices across Appalachia. These portraits strive to show the varied faces, passions, issues and opinions from around the region. These interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity. If you have an idea for ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’ please contact Nancy Andrews on Twitter @NancyAndrews or email at nancy.andrews [at] Follow her on Instagram @NancyAndrews.

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