She returned his engagement ring and blocked him on FB. It took a miracle 11,000km from home to reunite them
by Gemma Koh // March 17, 2023, 2:07 pm
Exactly nine years after he first proposed, Tim Weerasekera gave the engagement ring back to Nuraini Malik. They tied the knot 16 years after their love story began. Photos courtesy of Tim and Nuraini.
A text message meant for someone else brought them together in their teens.
They got engaged but broke each other’s hearts.
Then, miraculously, they ran into each other in a city capital 11,000km from Singapore.
Exactly nine years after he first proposed, he slipped the sapphire engagement ring back on her finger.
This is not a script out of a Hollywood movie, but the true love story of Timothy Anand Weerasekera and Nuraini Ariel Malik, who are now in their 30s.
In 2006, Tim ran into Nuraini when visiting his alma mater, Anglo-Chinese Junior College.
Nuraini was ending her first year of JC, while Tim was serving National Service.
They had met several months earlier on a school trip to South Africa, but Tim couldn’t recall her name.
He was surprised when Nuraini said to him: “Hey, all our plans on, ah? Next year you’re coming to crash orientation.”
It turned out that Tim had been texting Nuraini by mistake.
“The confusion arose because I had saved both her and someone else’s name under the same tongue-in-cheek nickname on my phone,” Tim said.
However, Tim did not let the case of mistaken identity scupper his plan.
He attended orientation with Nuraini – and they fell in love.
They dated for seven years, and at midnight on New Year’s Day 2013, Tim proposed.
“I used my first salary to buy her an engagement ring,” said Tim, who was then working in a department of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Nuraini said yes.
Around the same time, Nuraini was starting her career as a consultant. Her job took her to London and then to Shanghai for six months.
“I came to realise that I wanted to live outside Singapore,” she said.
Just before leaving on a business trip to India, Nuraini returned the engagement ring to Tim at the airport.
She didn’t really want to get married or have children, said Tim.
He, on the other hand, was a “hardcore Singapore boy” who wanted to stay and build a future here.
“We felt frustrated and hopeless about our future together,” Tim said. “Eventually, we came to the hard and painful decision to part ways.”
Just before leaving on a business trip to India in 2014, Nuraini returned the engagement ring to Tim at the airport.
“She said, ‘Keep for me.’ It was her way of giving it back, but not wanting to admit that she was returning it,” he said.
Blocking him on Facebook
Heartbroken, Tim surrendered the relationship to God, saying: “Lord, I leave this to You. If there’s ever a day You want to fix us, that will be up to You.”
“In an act of self-protection and self-preservation, I removed him digitally from my life.”
They tried to stay friends.
“But after some months, we realised that it was not healthy to stay connected out of sentimentality. There was too much emotional baggage,” said Tim.
They needed a clean cut. Which meant not being each other’s go-to person.
Shortly after, Nuraini saw social media posts of Tim travelling all over Europe and Africa.
“This guy had told me he wanted to stay in Singapore,” she said.
“I thought it was going to be incredibly difficult to be friendly. So in an act of self-protection and preservation, I removed him digitally from my life and blocked him on WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook … everything.”
She didn’t realise that Tim had made a radical career change.
A hunch and a flight delay
Three years after they broke off their engagement, Tim was due to fly to London for a work meeting en route to Northern Uganda.
“I was in a country I rarely visited. And yet, I was being told in my heart, ‘Go and find Nuraini.’”
As he packed his suitcase, he told his mum: “I feel in my heart that I am going to bump into you-know-who in London.”
Church friends had told him that Nuraini had recently moved there for work.
The chances of running into Nuraini in a city 2.2 times bigger than Singapore was next to nothing. And Tim had no intention of reaching out to her.
But, on the plane, Tim sensed again that he was going to run into Nuraini.
Tim’s flight was supposed to land in London at 5.55am. But it was delayed by three hours and scuttled his plans to attend early Sunday morning church service at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB).
So he headed straight to the mid-morning service instead.
The main church was packed by the time Tim arrived. He was ushered to the overflow room in the basement.
Tim listened to Stephen Foster, the speaker of the day, talk about forgiveness and reconciliation.
Foster said: “I have no right to be a friend of God. But because of Jesus, I know that is exactly what I am. If God can reconcile me to Himself, He is surely powerful enough to reconcile me to every single one of my enemies.”
(Watch the talk below.)
“The message made me think of Nuraini,” he said. “And I wished that one day she would be friends with me again.”
Then Tim felt a nudging in his spirit for the third time. It said: “’Go and find Nuraini after the service.’
The chance of running into Nuraini in a city 2.2 times bigger than Singapore was next to nothing.
“It made no sense to me! I hadn’t seen this girl in three years. I was in a church I had never stepped into, in a country I rarely visited.
“And yet, I was being told in my heart, ‘Go and find Nuraini.’”
After the service, Tim walked around the basement looking for her.
But she was not there.
“I told myself, ‘Tim, come to your senses.’
“And so I climbed up the marble staircase leading to the main level of the church. And there, at the end of the corridor, was Nuraini.”
An insane moment of courage
Nuraini was looking down at her phone, searching for somewhere to go for lunch.
When she saw Tim standing before her, she exclaimed in bewilderment: “What are you doing here?”
“She didn’t sound happy,” he said.
Hyperventilating, Nuraini told Tim: “No, you cannot be here. London is my place!”
“Then I flung my arms around him and just cried and cried and cried and cried.”
Tim said: “Look, I see you’re getting upset. I didn’t come here to invade your space. I’m just passing through for work.
“I’m going to go,” he said.
But as he turned around and walked away, he remembered the sermon.
In an “insane moment of courage”, he turned back and told Nuraini: “Today’s message was about forgiveness and reconciliation.
“It made me think of you.”
It turned out that the sermon had also brought Tim to Nuraini’s mind. She had thought of emailing him. And miraculously he had appeared in front of her.
“Then I flung my arms around him and just cried and cried and cried and cried,” she said.
“That was a special moment for us,” said Tim, who still gets emotional at the memory.
“God undid years and years of pent-up emotion and frustration. He reconciled us across the continents, across the years,” he said.
“He’s a good Father who loves us and wants His children to reconnect.”
“We had a really honest heart-to-heart conversation over lunch,” said Tim.
“That’s when we realised there was a big misunderstanding. I wasn’t travelling the world for fun, as Nuraini had thought when she had seen my feed.”
After they broke off their engagement, Tim had felt a strong pull to attend The Bible College of Wales. Subsequently, the church he works at in Singapore sent him as a missionary to Uganda to audit three primary schools. Later, he also helped refugees in camps in Uganda and Kenya.
That day, God started healing their hurt hearts.
“Over lunch, we started being comfortable talking to each other again,” said Nuraini.
They met up when Tim passed through London again. And over the next three years or so, they WhatsApped each other from time to time, and would see each other in church when she moved back to Singapore in 2020.
“We were thankful that God had restored our friendship,” said Tim.
Nuraini had originally planned on staying on in London. But obstacles in her way wore her down. So she went to The Bible College of Wales for a sabbatical.
When she returned to Singapore, she felt that God had prepared her for a new season.
In 2021, Nuraini and Tim started spending more time together.
“We realised how we had matured in our time apart, and now got along better than before,” said Tim.
This grew into strong feelings for each other – again.
Exactly nine years after their first engagement, Tim slipped the sapphire ring back on Nuraini’s finger.
In November 2022, the couple finally became Mr and Mrs – 16 years after their story began.
Preferring the other over self
Today, Tim and Nuraini own a home in Singapore, and hope to have kids (and maybe a cat).
“God ordered our steps, reconnecting us halfway across the world,” said Nuraini.
“Reconnecting has allowed us to see the importance of communication, forgiveness and submitting to one another.”
“There’s really nothing God cannot do.
“If you have relationships you’re yearning to restore, trust that God can do the impossible,” she said.
“This won’t always look like reconnecting with an old flame. But we believe that God desires for all his children to love one another in Christ.”
The couple have also picked up valuable lessons on relationships.
“Reconnecting has allowed us to see the importance of communication, forgiveness and submitting to one another,” said Tim.
“We’re not perfect, but we’ve made huge strides since we were younger.
“Marriage is about preferring the other person over ourselves, giving more than taking.
“We hope our love story touches you and sparks a desire for healing in your lives,” said Tim.
This story was originally published on Stories of Hope.
Additional reporting by Gracia Chiang. Watch a video of Tim and Nuraini’s love story on Living Room.
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