Recently, my friend asked me about my dating life, and whether I wanted to ultimately end up with an Indian man. I confessed that I wasn’t so sure. Why, you ask? My concern can perhaps be compared, to the dilemma one faces when on Amazon, you see that you can purchase a product you really want, but only as an ‘add-on item’ if you purchase other ‘qualifying items’.
You end up scouring Amazon to purchase unnecessary products, just so that you can purchase the only product you actually want. In my last relationship, my partner was the product I wanted, his parents were unnecessary qualifying items I never asked for.
It was a whirlwind romance; I had just ended my previous relationship before moving to Canada, and I was looking for something casual. Instead, I was swept off my feet by a kind, intelligent, and incredibly loving, young man.
We had a strong connection, which was partially rooted in common ground, such as hailing from the same state in India, speaking the same Indian regional language, and sharing a love for Tamil music and movies. He felt like home.
Right from the start, I was more anxious than he was, about breaking the news to my family – I was ready to face familial conflict if it was thrown my way, but I was nevertheless jittery.
He reassured me that his family would love me and that it wouldn’t be an issue that he was a Brahmin and I was [insert any caste that’s not Brahmin]. Turned out, my parents were overjoyed at the news and were eager to meet him, and all my imaginations of fighting them for the love of my life turned out to remain fictional. Most pitifully, the same couldn’t be said for my partner’s parents.
They took up the most well-executed job, of persuading my partner, that the match they had found for him back in India, was more suitable. I’d have been okay if they had an issue with my personality, I suppose, but nope.
Their sole rationale was based on a family astrologer’s teachings of marriage being a ‘divine combination spanning several eras’. Evidently, it meant Brahmins only marry Brahmins.
What followed would make Ekta Kapoor proud. Family tactics to persuade my partner to leave me, started out as daily phone calls, eventually evolving into emotional pleas, outright harassment, and emotional blackmail.
My partner fought back, initially. But his dear mum was so affected by her son’s ‘disobedience’, that her BP shot up and she was admitted to a hospital. When the prodigal son returned to speak with her face to face, it turned out his father had been admitted to a hospital for a serious procedure involving his heart.
Our daily Skype update ended with either him in tears, for the pressure that he was facing, or me in tears, afraid that he would give in to their tantrums. Don’t get me wrong, I was sorry they were unwell, but their reasoning was so off, it made me bitter and angry.
The nail in the coffin, though, was when our (horror) scopes were matched – my partner had thought it a hail Mary, but guess what, folks? Along with belonging to an unacceptable caste and community, I was ‘Manglik’ too. Three astrologers concluded that our match would end in a fatality; either he would die or I would. (yay, science!, yay Rahu and Ketu!).
My partner returned to Canada, feeling helpless, and looking like he had lost the will to live. He’d been taunted by his relatives for putting his parents under extreme stress and he was made to promise, in front of his father’s sickbed, that he would end things with me.
I tried throwing caution to the wind by getting on a call with his mother – a conversation I thought, would be between two civilised adults. Instead, I was greeted with an unnecessarily sharp voice, a declaration that she wouldn’t let our relationship go further, and some ‘comforting’ garbage about how we would soon recover from this ‘minor’ hiccup in our lives.
Oh, by the way, his parents themselves had eloped and married, against family approval. While I was prepared to follow their example, my partner wasn’t. He ended the relationship that night.
The incident has left me in a state of bewilderment, and I continue to wonder why I let myself be dragged along, to humour individuals who exhibited deeply problematic and hurtful behaviour towards me, and my partner.
I had been reduced to a mere horoscope and tossed aside – a move so Bollywood, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been directed by Sooraj Barjatya. Why are young Indians afraid to love? This is why.
*Feature image is representational.