This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Archeeta Pujari. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“I Love You, But This Is It”: Love Story Of An NRI Girl From An Orthodox Family

More from Archeeta Pujari

By Archeeta Pujari:

I love the way your blue eyes twinkle with emotions, and the freckles of your nose dance as you wrinkle it in delight at the sight of me. But you see, I am Indian, and you are not, and although the colour of my skin does not make the slightest difference to you, it is a different story for me. By virtue of the simple fact that I was born as a girl, to Indian parents, I carry upon my shoulders, the burden of centuries of expectations, traditions, rituals and responsibilities that every Indian girl must bear from birth till death.

NRI love

I was two years old when my parents left the shores of India forever and came here to build a new life for themselves. This was the land of dreams and opportunities; it offered them a future that India never could. The air was cool and temperate, not hot, damp and sweaty; the children were plump, fair and healthy, not weedy and malnourished; and the streets were clean and litter free, not writhing with the tangled limbs of the handicapped, destitute and starving.

I went to school with the white kids. We played together in the blissful lighthearted way that only very small children can. But I was always reminded that I was not one of them. Their kind was to be treated with suspicion, with their depraved concepts of single parenthood, divorce, boyfriends, pubs, gay rights and female bus drivers. We could live in their country, eat their food, ride their trains and occupy positions in their companies, but we remained apart from them, lest we be tempted by their sinful lifestyle and carefree ways. I was different, you see, I was an Indian girl.

I did not go for sleepovers with my friends, as their parents, however friendly, could not be trusted. As I grew up, I could no longer wear shorts or dresses on hot summer days. I was taught to cover up and not draw attention to myself, lest I provoke a lewd gesture or leer. And if I did, I was told to bury this shameful secret, hidden away from the world, but always lingering in my mind as a reminder of my indecency. When I was 10, and the topic of my conversations among friends began to veer away from TV shows and made-up games towards boys for the first time, I was withdrawn from sex education at school. While my peers learnt about puberty and growing up, I sat alone in the library and my mother’s sharp words that there was no need for me to be learning about such things rang in my head.

I was invited to discos and movie nights and parties, but of course I could not go. I was told that it should be my priority at all cost to stay away from boys, as they would bring nothing but shame and disrepute, and who could recover from that? If I argued that all my friends were allowed to go, I was reminded time and time again that it didn’t matter; the rules were different for Indian girls, even ones that had no living memory of India at all.

But you understand, of course, that this was all for my own good. My parents only wanted the best for me. They only wanted to give me the best education, the best career and the best shot at life in this foreign country of dreams, with no unnecessary distractions. So, I did my best for them. I made sure that their sleepless nights and tears and raised voices didn’t go to waste. As you know, I finished school with top grades and secured a place at an excellent university to read the subject deemed best for me by my parents. Despite finding it both unchallenging and uninteresting, I finished top of my year, and went on to be hired by one of the largest and most reputable firms in the world. I worked 14 hour days, often 7 days a week for 3 years and at the end of it received the promotion I had been working towards. I rang home, longing for my parents to share my hard earned happiness. But although they congratulated me heartily, I discerned a hint of something else in their voices.

For you see, although I had done all they had asked for and succeeded in the path they had chosen for me, it didn’t matter anymore. I was 24, and an Indian girl. What use was a high flying career or an attractive salary if they could not find a suitable Indian boy for me to marry and settle down with?

I see the confusion in your eyes, my love, and this was how I felt too. All my life I had been told to shun boys and focus on my education and career, and now that the fruits of my labour were at last beginning to peek out of the dense, leafy foliage, I was faced with this alarming u-turn, and told that in reality, none of this would bring my parents any satisfaction or happiness at all. My life and theirs would remain incomplete until they procured for me an Indian husband. They had to act now, before I grew too fond of my independence, before I began to test the boundaries of my Indian womanhood, set so painstakingly for me since childhood, before I met someone like you.

I love you but I must leave you. You can understand a daughter’s reluctance to inflict grief upon her parents by her choices. But how can I explain to you why their happiness hinges not on my own happiness and trust in my abilities, but on this meticulous desire to control every aspect of my life, to tie my destiny irrevocably with this man I do not know, and do not care for.

You have shown me nothing but respect and kindness in the years that I have known you, but know that he will always be preferable to you, even if he demands lavish gifts and all expenses for the wedding to be borne by my parents. For Indian men have such high standards, unlike men of your race, and he is doing me such a favour by agreeing to marry me. Who am I to be so ungrateful as to refuse?

Your parents have welcomed me into their homes and hearts with open arms, simply because you chose to love me. Yet you will never be good enough for me, even though his parents treat me like an outsider, a performer of domestic tasks, nothing more than a bedroom companion for their adult son.

My parents say that your type cannot be trusted, that if one day we no longer see eye to eye, you will divorce me and leave me to live your life apart. But the Indian man will never do so. If our personalities are not compatible, I will be forever locked in the security and safety of the loveless marriage, and endless years of apathy, hatred and depression. Unlike you, he will never make me suffer the indignity of living as a divorced woman, with the freedom to live independently, travel the world or seek the love of another man.

And what of this baby in my tummy? Your face broke into peals of delight when I whispered the news to you in tremulous tones. You said that we would raise it together, love it unconditionally till our dying day. But you know this can never be. The penalty for illicit love like ours is severe, possibly even death, for there is no greater shame than this. And only an Indian parent has the strength, the unshakable mettle, to put honour, duty and tradition above all else, even an only daughter.

I love you, but this is it. I know you will understand. I am not like you, free to live and love as I please. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I will always be followed by a billion eyes, and a billion tongues, watching my every move, judging me at every turn, ready to shred me to pieces at the first sign of falter.

For I am an Indian girl, and this is the burden I have been raised to bear.

(Note: this is a work of fiction based on the author’s own experiences of growing up as an NRI in London).

You must be to comment.
  1. shabeeb

    Although am a boy, being brother to two sisters and cousin sisters, i can relate these…such powerful writing, may this be an inspiration to wake our sisters up and start living their life for themselves for a while!

  2. Archeeta Pujari

    I held my breath the whole way through reading this. Powerful to the extreme. Well done !

  3. Anubhav Shankar

    Eloquent beyond par. Hats off to the author/writer.

  4. Tinti

    For any such woman whose situation resembles this fiction:
    The easiest solution is to move out of your parent’s house and live the life you want. Your life is YOUR LIFE. Why sacrifice your happiness for some stupid values of some stupid people? And being an NRI makes it easier to follow your wishes. This is not India where khap panchayats will gangrape/behead you in the name of protecting your ‘family values’!

    1. Suvi

      Yet it’s not always possible ? Leaving your family is leaving the safety of your comfort zone, and we are taught to fear this.

    2. Tinti

      Yes I know its easier said than done. One also have to deal with all the emotional blackmails from the family. But one has to deal with all these things strongly, otherwise suffer lifelong, stuck in a male chauvinist family, sacrificing one’s aspirations and ambitions, a marriage with no love, becoming a baby-producing machine.
      It is important that sometimes people do move out of thier ‘comfort zone’. This idea of ‘safety’ is only a perception. If a girl has a bright career and a decent job. it will not be so difficult for her to move out and live her own life. Now-a-days so many people anyways stay away from their family for studies or job, in a different city/country, its not that difficult.

    3. SK

      oooo!! tried that also… you cant imagine the extents to which Indian parents can go to maintain their so called ‘sanity and honor’. I moved out of the country temporarily.. still they dont learn the lesson.. Indian Parents take it as their birthright to run our lives; the dialogues I am sure many of you have heard the same.. “beta, hum maa baap ne 50saal dekhe hain, duniya dekhi hai, we know wats best for you” .. “Beta we love you, we dont want to do anything that is eventually not good for you, humne bhi har cheez mei parents ki suni thi, parents know best”.
      To all these parents I ask.. well if parents know ‘best’ why are their some fathers in this country who rape their own daughters?? and why do their mothers assist them?? What kind of best decision is dat??
      As parents they certainly have a right to give us their opinions and warn with their insights, our generation would be more than happy to acknowledge advises… beyond that.. dont monitor us.. We girls are sick of it.. I know about 150 girls as random friends.. we all share the same (ok exaggeration… similar) damn story as narrated here.

    4. namita shah

      moving out is an option but the emotional trauma that make you suffer is unimaginable. I have been living away for 8 years now, it actually gets worse when you leave I think. Because then they start making you feel guilty that you have used them, you will never take care of them in their old age, your children wont even know their grand parents, they have sacrificed all their lives and now this is what they get, and ofcourse… you will go away but we have to stay here and suffer thee SOCIETY.. so..
      I have tried everything under the planet – introduced them to my boyfriend and in so many different ways tried to show that inspite of being French he is still very similar to Indian people because he is just human… I sometimes feel, the Indians are foremost in calling someone racist!! But I strongly feel that We are the most racist people around. Because atleast in countries like USA they recognize racism as a problem and work to minimize it. In India, we are proud to be racist… I never knew that a white skin racism also existed!!

    5. Archeeta Pujari

      Well done for being so brave, sticking by what you see as right, and trying diplomatic means to get your parents to come around rather than being aggressive and storming out, or limply giving in to their demands. I hope things work out for you, I really do !

    6. Raushnee

      So true.
      ‘White-Skin’ racism. Haha!

  5. D Gill

    Understood that this is a work of fiction based on the writers personal experiences but still…. You call this crap you put up with love on a parents behalf? You have the right to live and think for yourself! You are an educated human being with a brain!

    And then this gem: “The penalty for illicit love like ours is severe, possibly even death, for there is no greater shame than this. And only an Indian parent has the strength, the unshakable mettle, to put honour, duty and tradition above all else, even an only daughter.”
    MURDERING ones child because they don’t agree with their childs actions? This is not a measure of a parents strength/duty as you wrote, it’s psychotic and criminal to murder ones children. Wow really? Duty to kills ones own child? So called “Illicit” love the greatest shame? More so than murdering another human being?

    You do realize that your writeup is somewhat condoning abuse and murder right?

    And pls don’t paint all Indian parents as such, they are not all savages such as described above.

    1. Archeeta Pujari

      I am trying to expose the hollowness and hyprocrisy that ‘Indian values’, ‘culture’, ‘tradition’, ‘honour’ and other such pointless notions impose upon our women and girls.

      Of course I don’t condone it ! The reaction to this article should be exactly yours ! How is MURDER in the name of honour something that can even be considered by a parent ? Yet it happens, all over the country, even abroad, doesn’t it ? Many women find themselves in this situation every day. WHY ?

      I thought stating that it was a work of fiction would make my intentions clear. Apparently not.

      Its a literary piece, meant to make us look inwardly at what we are as a society.

    2. D Gill

      I see your point, but the way you described certain things and used words such as duty and strength especially in describing so called honour killing leads the reader to think that this is your view on the matter.

      Trust me I feel very strongly about the subject and am well aware of what people go through, that’s why I was angered by the fact that you were describing evil activities with rosy words such as strength and duty.

      Thanks for clarifying your intentions with the write up. I applaud your efforts. Hopefully the beastly mentality of such people will change.

    3. Archeeta

      It’s irony. Many people justify beastly acts with words like ‘duty’, ‘honour’ and ‘religion’.

      I appreciate that you feel strongly about the issue. Thank you.

    4. Ila

      I am so sorry that you do not understand. My parents are not like this and I am an Indian from India. But I study abroad and have seen MANY NRI parents behave like this. I am not saying that Indian parents from India are more progressive because they really aren’t and I know of many girls who have faced such problems let alone marrying a person of another race, religion or culture – many girls are not allowed to marry a boy of their choice from the same community etc. Her write up is not promoting murder, psychopathy etc. Have you never heard of honor killings in India? I think you got it all wrong Mr. It is reflecting what the reality is. And sadly this is not only for girls, it is also true of many men who want to marry a girl of their choice in our country. They are forced to marry someone whom their parents chose for them even if they have nothing in common with her or don’t even find her attractive simply for forwarding family business, reputation, social standing etc. It is true and sad.

    5. Ila

      this is one of the saddest and the truest pieces i have ever read.

    6. SK

      Hey you are right.. our society is evolving continuously.. all Indian parents arent as described. You should also understand.. the writer is trying to add on an element of sarcasm by saying that her relationship is ‘illicit’ and calling murder to be her parents’ ‘honor’ read it in the spirit again.. I am sure you shall agree with the author. And no matter how forward our parents may call themselves in India, they may scream and shout that they have a progressive mindset, just not patriarchal… kabhi na kabhi.. kahin se koi baat aisi kar jaate hain, it automatically sets us back to remind that we are girls and should not have too many opinions and should stay limited. As soon as the girls turns 24 she is looked up to be married, settled in order to produce kids before she is 30 and old in the Indian sense. To hell with the career she wanted or the remaining of her lifestyle. It is a harsh truth that all Indian girls this age have to eventually face.

  6. Anchit Khanna

    Very nicely written… Each and every word – TRUE…

  7. Gaurav

    The article is as much applicable to men as to women. the reason I say this is very simple, all those men and women who had the courage to build their own relationships are today happily married to their love. those who could not are either stuck in an arranged marriage or still single and afraid to mingle. this is the second similar article I have seen in last few days and it shows that lot of women are unable to break the barrier just as many men are unable to break the mould in which in they are set. make more efforts just as we men do… results come when we make more efforts

    1. Archeeta Pujari

      I agree wholeheartedly ! Time to start taking control of our own futures.

  8. namita shah

    I’m going through exactly the same situation right now except for the baby. Both my boyfriend and I have been trying to convince my parents for 4 years now. I know I dont have much option but to get married in a court somewhere but still my heart hurts so much that my parents wont be there n my big day.. Their main problem is – what will happen if he divorces you, they are culture-less because they can wear bikinis and eat pork, they have no family values because they drink alcohol with their children, and the major major – WHAT WILL THE SOCIETY SAY???
    I have been trying to show them the we are just humans, all over the world, we are just the same. Just because a girl wears bikini doesn’t mean she has no culture and just because they drink alcohol doesn’t mean they are alcoholic!!!
    But now I realise, its like moving the himalayas.. Its just impossible. In India, we go to malls, watch bollywood where they epitomise LOVE and cry when love doesnt win, but when its our daughter.. the SOCIETY and HONOR is most imp…

    1. Tinti

      As if divorce never happens in India! And I think if a marriage does not work, it is better to get separated amicably than to stay together and fight everyday.
      And I dont give a damn to ‘society’, Its my life, I shall live as I want (without doing something illegal or immoral), I could not care less what the next-door-aunty thinks about my life. Rather she should be ashamed of what opinion I have of her for meddling into someone else’s life instead of minding her own business!!!
      Well, Indian families who eat only pure veg and drink lassi instead of alcohol can shamelessly ask for an exorbitant amount of dowry, torture their daughter-in-law and show male chauvinism at the worst level. Really these are GREAT family-values!

    2. Mamta

      The hypocrisy bleeds out of it like an open wound, but no one stops to staunch the flow. Do we, as a society choose to be oblivious, or do we walk with our eyes firmly shut, refusing to see ?

      I have heard all to many parents professing modern value, but only so long as they are practiced by others. Not in our own homes, not our own children. But others should be open minded !

    3. manasa

      Wow!!! Intriguing response

    4. RM

      Rise up and make your move. Parents will eventually accept it.If they are going to hold the grudge till they die..well..they aren’t really great parents. Indian parents will try their best not to make it happen but if you stand up and hold your ground and make your move they will eventually accept it..they wont be be the happiest parents in the world but they will stop hating it/you after sometime. Its when ppl like you who keep giving up,such problems still persist.If you want to change the system stand up & fight it instead of giving into it & cribbing on the internet.

      Also talk to those Indians who married foreigners or someone from another cast/creed/color ,at least 90% of them & their parents are living happily now.

    5. someone-who-has-not-the-luxury-of-using-his-name

      I just loved your line about Bollywood movies.
      When it’s poor choreography and easy tears, then “ooooh the TRUE LOVE THAT MOVES THE MOUNTAINS”.
      At home: “Log Kya Kahenge”. (I’m slowly learning, heh?)

  9. vartika

    excellent craft. true insights..!!

  10. D

    Beautifully written story.

  11. Ketki

    I think a lot of us faced these issues while growing up. I also left India when I was 2 years old and went abroad with my parents. I lived in Canada for most of my life. I led a similar weird 2 cultured life as a lot of other Indians who had migrated. Good thing was that a lot of my friends were also NRIs so that comforted me a little. It’s difficult living as an Indian abroad though…it always feels like you’re just working to achieve something…but then your whole life just goes by focusing on your career and studies…and all of a sudden you’re like “OMG, what have I done in the past 20 years of my life?”

  12. Shabnam

    This is too real. Too painful. Too beautiful. Respect to the author, what a piece. Do you have more I can consume somewhere?

  13. Zainab Khan

    I am a Pakistani, came across this through Facebook and further shared it with the tag: “Fits perfectly here too, had Indian been replaced by Pakistani. It’s the curse of the subcontinent.”
    Thank you for writing this. I know its not an uncommon situation and that thousands suffer through this but the fact that you wrote this was strangely cathartic for me as a reader. I laud your efforts and that of this initiative as a whole. Good luck! 🙂

  14. Tanmoy Chakraborty

    Hi,

    Whoever you are, you have just expressed it just with great stroke. Even for my 4 months stay in Europe and being a boy I felt many senses as expressed in you article. You must be awesome and you will get through all thick and thin.

  15. RM

    meh! there are many Indian women and men getting married to the ones of a different caste/color & nationality. pretty much every modern day girl does late night parties and consume alcohol and even wear “short clothes” .time has changed..India has changed..people are still holding on to stories from 10-15 years back..its not like that anymore..its changing by the minute..just look around you. Most of the women who end up like in this article are the one who dint fight at all of dint even attempt to..and the first few obstacles itself they give up and blame it on the community. Most of them are even ppl who never had true commitment..thats evident from their wedding pics and early married life where they are so happy and smiling when they were only forced out off their relationship with their boy friends 5-6 months back..All “move on” with a snap of the finger..its ppl like them that keep these stories alive -_-

  16. Aiswarya

    I dont know how it is with NRI Parents, but living in India I can vouch for the fact that most parents are not so orthodox, and they put their children before the society. Yes, There are parents who care more about the society but they are dwindling in numbers. The girls now a days have become independent and don’t bow down to such unreasonable demands any longer. Gone are the times when a woman was supposed to get married at 24 and have kids by 26, Women nowadays are willing to break through stereotypes and build a career of their own.

    I loved the line in the article which says ” Unlike you, he will never make me suffer the indignity of living as a divorced woman, with the freedom to live independently, travel the world or seek the love of another man”. But i think more than a woman a man is more scared of the society.

    1. Lost

      Believe me, most of the NRI parents are way more orthodox than the parents I’ve interacted with in India! It’s quite puzzling.

  17. Inayat Sood

    To whoever the writer is. This is amazing.
    It’s not just the story of an NRI girl, it’s the story of almost every Indian girl. Thankfully, I have parents with open minds when it comes to a lot of things, but I know, at the end of the day, what they want will be of more importance than what I’d want for myself.

    I hope that this mindset changes soon. I really do.

    This is lovely 🙂

  18. pradheep

    The story connects to the present lifestyle of every young Indian, does not limit to expats. A brilliant elaboration of a youth’s life. Cheers…!

  19. Ravi

    Hi,

    Great piece of work, however, hate the fact that the way you have typically stereotyped Indian men and parents to make Indian girls look like victims of parents and husbands wishes.

    Not all Indian men do a favour by marrying you, a lot of them marry women for what they are not what they are going to get as dowry and wedding celebrations.

    Not all Indian parents are orthodox and force their kids to marry an Indian man and force them to not hangout with other races. Those parents who do differentiate are a vice to our society and guess what vices exist in every society.

    Sorry to hear this fiction work is based on an Indian girl, however, lets not stereotype Indian parents and men. Let’s not forget that the Indian youth is one of the most successful in the whole world and the credit goes to our parents. Maybe we do get restricted in certain parts of our life, but, it’s good for us.

    Also, it’s not only the story of an Indian women, it can be the story of Indian men too.

    Thanks,

    Ravi

    1. Pinto

      Nowhere is it mentioned that ALL parents are like this.

      If anything, the author states that this account is based on personal experiences.

      It is fiction, it is meant to provoke and entice. You cannot deny that it happens, maybe not to this extent, but it does. I personally know of people from affluent backgrounds who have suffered from this, in varying degrees, and have been powerless to fight back.

      Yes, vices exist. But guess what, as long as they do, it is still our duty and right to speak up about them.

  20. Geet

    If this is a true story then for once you must talk to your parents. parents can be orthodox but they cant be a killer of their own doll, and if that guy really love you and you love him too then you cant leave each other just like that. I am not saying to hurt feelings of your parents obviously they have done a lot for you but you must tell them what you are thinking and proof that you haven’t chose wrong partner. The tradition of respect for our parent doesn’t resemble that we must keep quiet and make our own parents guilty. Your love for your parents will definitely help them to accept the correct life partner chosen by you. and remember you have only one life.

    1. someone-who-has-not-the-luxury-of-using-his-name

      and if they won’t listen but, instead, deprive the girl (of legal age by a broad margin) of pc and mobile phone?
      do you know that this exists?
      This is a personal fear that I, myself, am facing for her.

      Besides this, three girls were burned alive in northern India by their own family.
      Or are our western news all lies?

  21. Raushnee

    Archeeta, Truer words have never been spoken. An amazingly written fact following the life story of most, if not all, Indian girls.
    Great job!

  22. someone-who-has-not-the-luxury-of-using-his-name

    Interesting indeed.
    I am an European and my Indian love gave me this link.
    She somehow wishes me to understand why she remains silent towards the abuse
    she faces every day while she hides her phone conversations with me.
    Her mother constantly yelling at her, her terror to be discovered.
    The difficulty to keep faith in the fact that she will reach me out.

    I tell her how I can’t understand how her family cannot be any way approached through dialogue.
    I have no clue how to act, how to help her. It maybe isn’t my role.

    Her family is unaware that I even exist. She did live in Europe for some time
    but now is back to India.

    The difference is that -she is writing it to me right now, on Skype- she will not give up.
    She says that she will reach out.

    BUT I CAN’T EVEN USE MY USUAL NICKNAME HERE. I HAVE TO HIDE. WHY? TELL ME WHY THE COUNTRY WHERE SOME OF THE SWEETEST AND POETIC CONCEPTS OF THE ENTIRE PLANET WERE BORN (I am a scholar, interested in Theology, Philosophy and Literature…I used to LOVE and BE INSPIRED by India years before knowing that an Indian woman would have ever said the three magic words to me), TELL ME WHY THIS COUNTRY IS THE SAME THAT DOES THE ABOVE???

    Dear Indian brothers, please tell me. Enlighten me.
    Tell me what should I do and why do I even have to ask myself such questions.

    I imagine it already: my parents are divorced – divorced because my father did use to hit me until I bleeded. Since I was 7/8 to age 13/14.
    She will be told: “See? They are not to be trusted. This is how westerners are.”
    Because a family drowned in negative energies and demons is better than divorce.

    She promises that she will not give up and I can’t do anything but believe her. Because, this is the sadness, I am to be trusted. Because I do love her.

    Still, until she will be able to “flee” I, the man she says she loves, have NO POWER WHATSOEVER to avoid, in the meantime, while the months that will pass from now until the day she plans to land where I am are flowing, that the abuse perpetrated on her (“Useless woman!”; “You are all wronng!” etc. etc) continues.

    Tell my why and tell me what I should do.
    My heart is full of joy, for I have crossed the most special creature of my life.

    Still I am desperate. Because I have no doubts on her and trust her blindly.

    It is the rest of the world, that I don’t trust anymore.

    1. someone-who-has-not-the-luxury-of-using-his-name

      Let me add something.
      In truth it’s not about India itself, in my opinion.

      INJUSTICE HAS NO NATIONALITY

      and the more we westerners will generalize about you dear Indians,
      the more we will be considered untrustworthy.

      I just question contradictions.
      Contradictions so sad in their effect of being the womb of societies that become tainted by hypocrisy.

      This taint has as many infinite forms as the whole universe itself has.
      It’s not about India.
      It’s about mankind and chains of events where the first ring of the chains’ mail is lost and forgotten.

      It’s mankind’s misery that makes me sad.

    2. RM

      There are plenty Indian women who have married Americans or Europeans and are living happily. All they had to do was stand up and tell to their parents…. And give it some time for them to understand and digest. They eventually accept. So ask her to make a move. I personally know quite a lot of people who have succefully done all this.

    3. someone-who-has-not-the-luxury-of-using-his-name

      Thank you so much for your answer.

      What you said is exactly what I did.
      She needs, I’ll use her own words, to do baby steps, because else her family will strongly oppose.

    4. someone-who-has-not-the-luxury-of-using-his-name

      whoops, sorry, mis-click before finishing my post.
      ….
      So, for now, it appears that no move can be done. Her plan is to initially hide her intention to reach me behind some studies. Studies that, by the way, truly interest her.
      Still, imagine how a man feels while
      1) Being someone who, even if only momentarily, is someone who has to be hidden totally
      2) A voice call is a risk. We speak every day, but she lives in terror
      3) Webcam call is THE LUXURY one time a week… hidden, when no one is at her place 🙁

    5. RM

      Hey i understand you brother. Ive had my woman leave me coz she couldn’t disappoint her family marrying from another religion whereas my sister stood up for herself and is happily married to some one from another religion…our families are all happy too now 🙂 hence im a strong advocate of standing up & fighting! 🙂

    6. someone-who-has-not-the-luxury-of-using-his-name

      Hey man, I thank you for treating me like a brother. Your declaration strengthens a bit my faith. I have faith also in the words of my girl who says that “we will make it”, but you know… a family can be stronger than an individual and, due to this, being given a bit of courage and hope from a third person is important.

      Thank you man.

      I am sorry for your woman. So you lost her forever in spite that she loves you? 🙁

  23. Shruti

    The fact that she’s an NRI doesn’t make her story any different to anybody else who has conservative parents. Her story is not representative of NRI families… just conservative ones.

    1. Deepak

      I am an NRI and I have conservative parents. What’s your point? Do I have to live in India for my parents to be conservative?

    2. Shruti

      *Not all NRI families

      Happy now?

    3. Anu

      I think NRI families tend to be more conservative than average. NRI parents leave India and face culture shock in the west and try to cling stringently to old values. Also, their only memory of India is that of 30+ years ago and they don’t realise that India too has changes and is modern now. They impose these old fashioned ideals on modern kids.

  24. Neel

    Just wanted to add that this is the most beautiful article :’) This scenario may not be limited to NRIs but to people still living in India, loving across the so-called “castes” is still equally shunned 🙁 I know and I understand for I am an NRI but my parents are extremely conservative, I have been given the ultimatum to choose between them and my love.

  25. alreadykilled11

    I do agree with u becoz india has changed somuch leave d NRIZ,, d galz in India r wearing shorts.. this article should be lik 10 15years old.. N those who say they were nt allowed should learn to stand up fo wat they want, rather than saying we r strong women here in dis site..

  26. rohitha

    the best articles I hv eva read
    …… these scenarios role arround my mind……. Every Indian girl ends up with the same…….

  27. Shwetha

    What a bullshit!!!! Do we really need such articles? I don’t think that any Indian girl is helpless.. it is all about what you think and what you want… broaden your perspective!!!! Grow up!!

    1. Pala

      Troll ^

  28. Sanjana Agnihotri

    I am appalled to see such write ups are even posted on this site. Thank you for exaggerating and making the life of an Indian girl look so melodramatic. The story clearly shows you how you are trying to portray Indian girls as spineless and dependent. I wont be shocked if you tell me you are a Karan Johar fan, well that’s also an insult to him.
    You are conservative in your mind, thoughts and actions as well if you do not come out of such restrictive family environment. The fact that in the fiction piece the girl gets pregnant clearly shows the protagonist actually was not following the social custom she was apparently confined to .
    I urge the web editors of Youth Ki Awaaz to check upon the kind of content they post, such articles give a very impression about the Indian society and mentality which is constantly changing. Standing up for yourself does not mean you are disrespecting your parents, it means you are respecting yourself first.

    Lastly, Injustice or conservatism is not limited to any nationality.

    1. Archeeta Pujari

      Just because something doesn’t coincide with your views does not mean that it should not be ALLOWED to be published.

      Secondly, this is fiction, and fiction is meant to be an exaggerated version of reality. No one won the booker prize for copying out this mornings newspaper.

      However, this is based on the aggregated experiences of many many many friends, acquaintances and colleagues, who have suffered exactly this, albeit in varying degrees. How I wish they had reacted the way you have reacted to this article, by standing up for themselves and realising that it doesn’t mean disrespecting your parents. The sad truth is that most of them acted like the girl in this article. The reason why I wanted to publish this account, exaggerated as it may be, was to make people stop and think about the things we pass off in the name of ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’.

      Finally, I am no great fan of Bollywood movies at all, those of Mr Johar being no great exception, for the reasons stated, quite rightly, by you above 🙂

    2. someone-who-has-not-the-luxury-of-using-his-name

      My Indian love is in the situation above.
      Still, she is figuring out how to do. You are hereby calling her spineless and offending my woman.

      My dear strong, hard-boned WOMAN with triple capital letters, tell me, where did you grow your spine from?

      I wish for you, not for eternity since I’m not a bad guy – JUST FOR ONE DAY

      -To be dependent.
      -To have to hide your feelings.
      -To have to mask your voice at the phone and have a poker face while your heart is exploding.
      -To have to -besides the DAILY DIFFICULTIES OF INDIA even if you are more than average wealthy- worry about your plan on how to move and find a good reason to tell your parents about your man because YOU SOMEHOW STILL LOVE THEM, in spite of their daily abuse, and wish their benediction.
      -To have to justify yourself every day with the man you love for every IDIOCY that happens around you – and if he is not able to rationalize and understand?

      Shall I continue?
      No, I won’t. But before indirectly insulting my woman, live through all of the above and still manage to smile. Then come back and tell me in my face that the one I love is SPINELESS. After growing a backbone.

      Shame yourself.

    3. ankita jain

      @unnamed european: my best wishes for convincing her family… I pray you both have the strength to face the situation and life ahead whatever the outcome.. cos i can understand your pain. All that you are going through. I come from a similar orthodox family living in india and my boyfriend is also indian altough not of same caste or religion. Its very difficult to fight your own parents, I learnt this at a great cost. Infact now i am in the process of giving up our relationship for my parents happiness. Its tearing me apart from inside. Thw emotional trauma is just unbearable. Yes I have become a coward choosing the safety of my parents love then venturing out on my own.
      But i pray and hope everything goes alright for you. You people do not suffer what other indians like us suffer in the name of extended family and society.
      All the best.
      May god be with you

    4. ankita jain

      Some might disapprove but ask us who go through this. A lot of this does happen in india and abroad. In the name of society and the extended family what all sacrifices a girl is expected to make. The fact is only a percentage of the total population has managed to break away from the conservative society and its norms. But majority are still facing it when it comes to thay extra bit of freedom or independence to choose your own lifestyle and life partner.

  29. Logan is home

    What exactly are you trying to prove by writing this article?

  30. salini

    Looks like the NRI parents are more conservative! I am an Indian girl.My parents belong to different religions and different cultures. When I chose to study what I wanted they let me do it. When they came to know that the college I choose was BITS Pilani, Goa they did not throw tantrums quoting the notorious liquor-drugs stories about Goa. When I chose to marry a man who doesn’t belong to my religion or culture, they let me do it. Not as a sacrifice, but as a willful act – the act of respecting my freedom. I am quite sure if tomorrow, I am fed up with the married life and wanted a divorce they would let me do it. The case is not so different from many of my friends. Indian parents have come a long way, they understand, appreciate and respect the freedom of their children. I guess the news has not yet reached abroad!

  31. Shomir Dutt

    Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story with us.

  32. nandini

    This post makes me sad and irritated at the same time. Sad for the unfortunate non-indian person trapped in such a harrowing situation for no fault of his. Irritated at the girl who can write an elaborate letter but lacks the spine to stand up for basic human values such as love between two adults. It is utter nonsense and a cowardly excuse to use family as a reason to not stand up for the one you love. If the girl was so concerned about that then she would have not led him on and started a relationship in the first place. Finally the ability to think for ones own self and making ones own decisions is not in contradiction with love for ones parents. It is the mark of ones own ability to live a life of dignity as an independent adult person. Establishing this might be a struggle at first but it is mandatory or else there is no way one can claim to be an adult human. It is difficult but never impossible and absolutely non negotiable – to claim ones own individuality, to make ones own decisions, to take a stand and stick to it, to fight for it if need be. Anything less that that is a pathetic excuse and an abomination.

  33. AnimaYoung

    “Be the change you want to see in the world” “Voice for voiceless” I am a divorced 30 year old single mom of two beautiful girls, half Caucasion, half Gujarati. Married for 10 years, and we still remain good friends. Grew up around the same dynamics listed above, but I only live for myself and what serves humanity. Surround yourself with successful and simple people with moral and values, everything else will fall into place.

  34. Vedika

    Being a 17 year old Indian girl living in India, I can relate to every statement stated here. Though I’ve never been in any sort of relationship before like friends my age do, the reason is mostly my parents. Because I know if I get into a relationship with anyone (even if he’s the same religion as I am) my parents would never accept it and I would have to keep lying to them in order to keep the relationship going. Something which I don’t want to do. I don’t want to betray my parents in any way because I want them to be happier than me for the choices I make. Though relationship is in no way the priority of my life, it still hurts to know that your parents, despite being such educated doctors, don’t steer away from the age old beliefs. I am not allowed to wear the clothes I want to. Not that I’d roam around wearing a bikini if given a choice but it’s nice to know that you can wear sleeveless clothes and knee length dresses without having to think too much about what your parents might say if they see you wearing something that does not fit their so called modern mindset. Even my 12 year old sister is not allowed to wear capris when she goes for her tuition or in public. I do admit that I get more liberties than others when it comes to choosing my profession and my dad has done much more than what any dad would have done for his daughter’s career. He used take me for the entire period of two months to meet different people of the profession I’m interested in to know their views, despite knowing nothing about the profession I’m about to venture in. They never forced their choice of profession upon me. And they were a lot more understanding when it came to low marks than any other parents. But sadly, I am still subjected to follow their age old customs as they expect me to learn cooking and their so called ‘women oriented’ domestic jobs because of course, what will I do when I go to my in-laws place! And what if they throw me out of their house because I haven’t mastered any of these. I aspire to be a fashion designer, and it scares me to think how I would go about with my career freely, when my parents follow such mindsets about fashion and clothes. Once I venture into that profession, I would be subjected to wear clothes according to the need. I am EXPECTED to look stylish, trendy and presentable if I open up my own business and start working to search for clients. Because who will come to me with their contracts if I’m myself not wearing something pretty? Sadly, I would be judged not on my ability or creativity, but on my appearance and dressing style. I’m stuck in between a shaky bridge of my interests and career, and my parent’s age old beliefs and mentality. And I’m scared if I give in to any one of these completely, I would end up losing one of them. A risk that I’m not ready to take as yet.

  35. ItsJustMe

    I have never read such a powerful piece in YKA. The truth when told so boldly echoes in your minds for ever. Much better aurges you to be different, urges you to challenge the norms and fight for that change. Thanks for the article, it is what YKA and its readers like me needed.

  36. ramesh

    what a bunch of egoistic losers ?!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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