There was no scenic backdrop, no bending of the knee, no quartet of violinists serenading the object of Imran Khan's affections.
Imran proposed to Reham Khan in his container. And no, it wasn't cosy.
She revealed this and more in a heart-to-heart with Dawn News' Saira Kabeer on Yeh Hai Zindagi today, where she finally opened up about her life and work...
|The full interview|
...but what everyone really wanted to know about is her "life-changing" interview with Imran Khan, which led to his proposal of marriage!
Reham describes her interview with Imran as "an unpleasant experience".
"The only other container I had ever been in was Tahir-ul-Qadri's with my colleague Wasim Badami. His was square and air-conditioned, but Khan sahab's was very narrow. I was sick with tonsillitis and fever on the day of the interview, and the container was so hot! Khan sahab has an allergic reaction to air conditioning, so it wasn't switched on. It was an unpleasant experience," shared Reham of that fateful day.
|A victorious Imran atop his container|
But she doesn't believe it was the interview that drove him to propose. He had been "thinking about it", she feels, though he didn't know her well at all. Referring to herself as a private person, she said that she doesn't have many close friends, even in the journalists' circle, so no one really knew about her earlier marriage or kids.
|The proposal: not exactly the stuff of fairytales|
The question that IK popped was not the standard 'Will you marry me?'
The PTI Chairman instead asked for the full name of her parents.
"Na jaan, na pehchaan, and here he was asking for my parents' name!" she recalls, "I demanded to know why he was asking."
IK didn't beat about the bush in his answer: he plainly revealed that he wanted to have someone perform an istakhara (a special prayer for determining the best course of action before a decision)... to determine if she was the right woman for him.
"He didn't even ask if I'm interested," she exclaims. "So I gave him a lecture, which was contrary to what he's used to, so he was quite shocked. Among other things, I told him that an istakhara should be performed by oneself, not others!"
Khan sahab then resorted to praise of his to-be wife, which seems to have scored him some points.
"You don't have a price," he said, "I like you for your khuddari."
But then he went a tad overboard.
"I know your story, your first marriage and kids," he continued, and Reham had to shut him down. "That's none of your business," she said.
So as the banter between the two oscillated from hot to cool, what led up to her final acceptance of his proposal?
"I was, of course, shocked by his proposal. What struck me was when he spoke about Sulaiman, his eldest son. We see Imran as an aggressive, confident, macho kind of man, but when he talked about Sulaiman, there was a softness in his eyes that really appealed to me. Imran Khan is an exceptional father. And I realised that there is more to this man than what's on TV."
Being home in Pakistan
|Why Reham never returned to England|
We know Reham Khan enjoyed a great career in the UK, and her stay in Pakistan in 2013 was supposed to be only temporary. So what made her stay? A crippling car crash, she revealed.
In August 2013, as she was returning from Lahore to Islamabad, her Toyota HiAce encountered a near fatal accident on the motorway. Reham flew out from the van onto the road, the impact of which fractured the right side of her body, from her shoulder all the way to her feet. The woman who could barely sit still could no longer move. In retrospect, she describes the harrowing incident as a "blessing in disguise". "All painful events have a purpose, and mine has made my life what it is today, " she said.
After a month in the hospital, Reham resumed her TV show but in a wheelchair — a fact few knew at the time. It was then she realised who her real friends were.
"I received help from people I didn't even consider my friends. They were strangers or acquaintances, at best, but they went out of their way to make me comfortable. Crew members would lift my wheelchair up the stairs. That's what made me make Pakistan my permanent home," she revealed.
"If I hadn't stayed, I would have never met Khan sahab," she also said.
The man and his quirks
Describing her other half, Reham said that Imran is compassionate.
“He is very forgiving and even forgives those who are disloyal to him. He indeed has a heart of gold. He is an avid reader and a profound thinker.”
|A scan of the day's news together — Twitter|
But it's hard to watch a cricket match with him!
“He becomes very patronising during a cricket match and I choose to shift to another room to watch it alone,” Reham shared.
She also praised him for being a neat-freak and added that he is not fussy about food.
With her husband being the Chairman of PTI, Reham believed that the image of the party hasn’t changed.
“PTI is a young party; other parties have a long history behind them. It is very democratic and my own knowledge about KP and PTI has been strong from the grassroots level so the party is growing and has seen a boom after the sit-ins.”
No plans for politics
Following her marriage with Imran, the million dollar question that remains to be answered is this: Will Reham follow the steps of her husband?
Reham's response was a categorical refusal: “I don’t plan to join politics because becoming MNA or even PM doesn’t really help in changing lives. I am very impatient and get frustrated if results are not delivered in time. If I intend to help people and am unable to do so, then there is no point in becoming an MPA or MNA.”
She added that in the current setup only those who want to hoard money and lands should enter politics.
Politicians are 100% liars
When asked whether she believes that politicians are liars, Reham vehemently agreed. But she was quick to quip, “Politicians are 100 percent liars, but my husband is not a politician and he is a terrible liar. He gives himself away when he’s lying.”
I would describe myself as a mother: Reham
“Although people have different perceptions, I personally define myself as a mother. My life has been revolving around children since a young age. Before my marriage, I was involved with my siblings’ kids, so I can be called a mother figure in the family.”
|Birthday celebrations with the kids — Twitter|
“I can’t reveal my nickname because I hate it and have boycotted it as well. I have only responded to my name, Reham. But owing to my fidgety nature, I am called ‘Supersonic Hedgehog’ by my children and Khan sahab because I find it hard to sit still and am usually seen walking about.”
“Khan sahab says that he loves me the most but my children love me like parents dote on their offspring. They take a lot of interest in my work and offer criticism as well for my own improvement.”
Views on women
Reham stirred quite the controversy in her earlier interview with India Today when she said that women should not complain.
She continued in the same strain when asked about her views about women.
“In my opinion women are humans, individuals. I don’t think there is any greater or lesser concept when it comes to men and women. Women are undoubtedly different and possess more beauty than men do.”
Commenting on beauty, Reham shared that she believed in beauty. “Inner beauty is far more important as it is about being content and having that genuine smile. You can wear anything, plaster your face with make-up but only inner beauty is reflected and kindness shines through.”
She left the anchor's seat for a very public honeymoon, but is set to rule the airwaves once again. The Reham Khan show kicks off on Sunday at 11:05pm on Dawn News. Her first interviewee, in case you missed it, is Imran Khan himself on an episode titled 'Khan vs. Khan!'!
“Our talk-shows spread despondency among the viewers and focus on negativity instead of highlighting beautiful aspects. We also do not take on our heroes in different fields like sports, arts, music. My show will talk about their journey which can inspire others and we have an interesting line-up.”
“As a dutiful wife, he is my hero rather than just a nation’s hero.”